If you get a metro to Piramide station on Line B, you can cross over to a platform for frequent trains heading to Porta San Paolo. A half hour or so journey brings you to Ostia Antica station. Head over a footbridge next to the station and you’ll arrive at the edges of the ancient port town of Ostia.
The remains of the once bustling port are astounding and judging from the two occasions I’ve visited, rarely uncomfortably crowded. The site is sprawling and it is easy to wander the ruins in peace.
The town was founded at the mouth of the river Tiber, ideally placed to serve as a trade hub. Ships from all over the ancient world would head to Ostia and the town boasted huge warehouses to store imported goods from the far corners of the empire. Smaller boats would then take their cargoes upriver to Rome.
I could spend days in Ostia, but my time is limited and I have a lot left in Rome to see, so I head back. I arrive back at Piramide and almost sprint down to the British Military Cemetery but I am ten minutes too late to catch the gardener who could have let me in. Coming from a military family I find it important to visit Commonwealth cemeteries whenever I can. Much is visible from the gates, so I can honour the fallen from a distance at least. There are 426 burials here from the Second World War, four of whom were never identified.
I then circumnavigate Monte Testaccio, but don’t find a path to the top. It is a vast man made hill, entirely created out of the shards of 53 million amphorae. It is, literally, a giant rubbish dump.
Not to be discouraged, I head south towards Centrale Montemartini.
This breathtaking museum is housed in an old power plant. In the nineties parts of the Capitoline Museums had to close for renovation and some of the artwork was to be displayed temporarily elsewhere and the disused plant was chosen as a suitable location. The stunning juxtaposition of ancient sculpture against a backdrop of 20th century generators proved so popular that Centrale Montemartini became a permanent outpost of the Capitoline Museums.
When I visited, towards the end of the day in October, it was practically deserted. I was in my absolute element. Not yet a must-visit attraction for most visitors to Rome, Centrale Montemartini has that delightful feeling of being a well kept secret that you’ve been let in on. I almost don’t want to rave about this gem of a museum just in case it’s unbearably jam packed with tourists when I return.
As with the Capitoline Museums, every single exhibit is beautifully lit, allowing even an amateur such as myself to get some beautiful shots.
In the evening I had a mini tweetup with the wonderful Agnes AKA UnderstandingRome. A fellow Brit and tour guide, we’ve chatted through various social media platforms for a few years and I’ve always been rather envious of Agnes getting to guide people around Rome for a living, it makes London look rather sorry in comparison. If anyone needs a guide whilst in Rome I can thoroughly recommend Agnes, she’s hilarious and ridiculously knowledgeable!