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Ostia, Province of Roma, Lazio

Though not a Comune, being part of the large Comune of Rome, Ostia is quite a large city today, a seaside resort and residential area for thousands of commuters to the capital. The seaside town lies a little distance from the ancient harbour of Rome, perhaps the first Roman colony, at the mouth of the River Tiber.

Info

  • Population: about 250,000 inhabitants
  • Zip/postal code: 00121 or 00122
  • Dialing Area Code: +39 06
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Provinces of Lazio

History - Antiquity

Ostia was said to have been founded by Ancus Marcius, one of the kings of Rome, in the 7th century BC. Although probably founded for the sole purpose of military defence -- since through the Tiber's mouths armies could eventually reach Rome by water -- the port became an important commercial harbour. Many of the goods that Rome received from its colonias and provinces passed through Ostia.

In 87 BC, the town was razed by Marius, and again in 67 BC it was sacked by pirates. After this second attack, the town was re-built and provided with protective walls by Cicero. The town was then further developed during the 1st century AD, mainly under the influence of Tiberius, who ordered the building of the first Forum, and also soon enriched by the construction of a new harbour on the northern mouths of the Tiber (which reaches the sea with a larger mouth in Ostia, Fiumara Grande, and a narrower one near to the current Fiumicino international airport).

The town was provided with all the services a town of the time could require; in particular, a famous lighthouse, the public latrinas organised for collective use as a series of seats, a large theatre, public baths and a firefighting service.

Ostia grew to 50,000 inhabitants in the 2nd century AD, but with the end of the Roman Empire, fell slowly into decay, and was finally abandoned in the 9th century due to repeated invasions and sackings by Arab pirates; the inhabitants moved to Gregoriopolis.

History - the Renaissance

Baroque architects used the remains as a sort of marble store for the palazzi they were building in Rome. Soon after, foreign explorers came in search of ancient statues and objects. The Papacy started organising its own investigations with Pope Pius VII and the research still continues today. It has been estimated that two thirds of the ancient town have currently been found.

History - the Modern Age

Ostia lived a new life during fascism, when it was renamed Lido di Ostia, or Ostia Lido, and a comfortable road was built to connect it with the seaside (dedicated to Christopher Columbus); it became the beach resort of Rome, and was connected by a railway, while the first projects for the Fiumicino airport were drafted out. The town was re-organised in a pure "fascist architecture" and divided into a coastal side, distributed in small villas used as second houses by the Romans, and a hinterland area for workers. In the 1960s Ostia began to be used as a beach and a holiday site and is still part of the territory of the "città metropolitana" of Rome.

[the text above is derived from Wikipedia and is subject to the GNU licence]

Where to stay in Lido di Ostia