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A spur-of-the-moment day trip took a friend and I to Ostia Antica for the afternoon. A suburb of Rome, Ostia used to be the city’s major port. Over the centuries, the city was abandoned, though, miraculously, much of the ancient city center still stands and is relatively well-preserved.

I went to the better-known Pompeii as an 11-year-old, and remember the ruins, frescoes, and human remains catching my interest and imagination in a way that no other historical site ever had. While Ostia Antica lacks the macabre history of Pompeii, it was still fascinating and absolutely worth the trip.

Among the ruins are a cemetery, several baths, an amphitheater, temples, markets, and apartment buildings. When you are lost among the ruins, no other tourists seen or heard, it’s not too difficult to imagine the city as it once was.

1. Remains of the Roman Gate | 2. Ruins | 3. Details of a carving in Piazzale della Minerva | 4. Mosaic detail | 5. Remains found across from the amphitheater | 6. The countryside beyond the archeological site

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