A question: Pompeii or Ostia Antica?
Tai and I talked an hour on the phone tonight--we are getting so excited about returning to Italy and it is still seven months away! We will probably be intolerable by then.
I love the anticipation before a trip---poring over maps and books, discussing the pros and cons of this place over that, deciphering train schedules via the internet, mumbling aloud as I read from an Italian phrase-book in the bathtub. I like to think I'm getting my money's worth before I even leave for the airport.
As the four of us travelling have a scant three weeks in Italy, we are trying to not spread ourselves too thin. There is SO much to see and we can't see it all. We are trying to limit ourselves to five or six stops, so we can really have a good look at the places we visit. It's hard.
So, we are questioning ourselves: What do Tai and I want to revisit? Three nights in Venice? More? What does our friend Pol (who has never travelled before) want to see most? And how long before we three girls drive poor Jeff loony?
Pol told me tonight when asked what she wanted to see most: "I want to see old things. No, not just old things. I want to see things so ancient it's hard to believe how old they are. And I want to see mosaics. Definitely."
Heh, I'm practically positive we can accomodate this wish. Old mosaics? What better place than Rome?
Tonight one of our topics was whether it is better to travel further down south to see the ruins of Pompeii (most of our travels will be in northern and central Italy) or to instead explore the ancient excavated Roman port city of Ostia Antica, which is located less than an hour by metro/train from Rome?
I visited Pompeii in 2002 and thought it was amazing. Walking along ancient streets of a city buried intact under tonnes of volcanic ash appealed to the morbid historian in me. And there is nothing quite like sitting all by yourself in the ruins of a stone villa by the remains of a once-beautiful ornamental pool, looking at the crumbling mosaics and imagining the family that once lived there. It is a recommended experience.
But I have also heard that the sights of the much lesser-known Ostia Antica actually rival Pompeii in some ways, and it is a place I would like to visit too. What I knew of it was so far mostly taken from guidebooks and the highly entertaining and historical novels of Lindsey Davis (have you read the adventures of ancient Roman detective Marcus Didius Falco?) and I was still intrigued.
I was curious what it might look like so I went online to have a look at articles and photos from Ostia Antica tonight. I have to say I'm impressed. It may indeed have just as much to offer as Pompeii and it's easy to get there from Rome .
The photos in this post are all from Ostia Antica.
What do you think Pol? Tai? Jeff?