Cathedral of St. Lawrence – Genoa

Genoa - Duomo - Facade
Genoa - Duomo - CeilingGenoa - Duomo - InteriorGenoa - Duomo - Particular

The Cathedral of St Lawrence was founded in the 5th century AD. Excavations under the Duomo have brought to light Roman’s Walls and pre-Christian tombs; probably the site was used as a cemetery since long before.

Many churches were built on the spot before in 1155 the actual Romanesque Duomo was erected. It became very quickly the center of the medieval city. At the end of the 13th century a terrible fire damaged the church; when it was restored the original style was kept, however various frescoes were added.

Since then the Duomo went through several renovations. During the 14th and 15th centuries were added several chapels and altars; in 1550 an architect was hired in order to rebuild the Duomo di San Lorenzo completely. Luckily the project was never completed and only few changes went through.

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At the end of the 17th century the Duomo was finally completed.

Many beautiful artworks are conserved in the interior of the Cathedral: frescoes, statues and paintings from different periods and styles.

The Genoa’s Cathedral is also famous for a “miracle” that took place in 1941. During the Second World War the city was being badly bombed by the allied. By mistake a British vessel launched a shell that felt right in the center of the church. Luckily only the walls were damaged while the bomb never exploded. The shell is still inside the Duomo along with an inscription where the people of Genoa thank the Virgin Mary for this “miracle”.

La Collegiata – San Gimignano

San Gimignano - La Collegiata - Fresco
San Gimignano - La Collegiata - InteriorSan Gimignano - view from the topSan Gimignano - day view

The Collegiate Church of Santa Maria Assunta, simply called the Collegiata, is the most important church of San Gimignano. Located in Piazza Duomo it is mostly famous for its stunning frescoes’ cycles by Ghirlandaio, Gozzoli, Di Bartolo and many other important artists. In 1990 it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in particular the frescoes were described as “works of outstanding beauty”.

The original church was built around the 10th century and dedicated to San Gimignano, its remains are buried here. However in less the two centuries the importance of the city had grown so much that a new church was needed. In the following centuries many statues and frescoes were added.

The Collegiate was built in Romanesque style, except the two chapels added later in the Renaissance style. The façade is very simple, there are two doors on the side and no central portal.

The interior is characterized by the use of colors: the nave colonnades are decorated with black and white marble, the volt is painted with lapis lazuli and gold stars.

The famous frescoes were added mostly during the 14th century. They are divided in cycles: Old Testament, New Testament, Last Judgement, Annunciation, San Sebastian and the one dedicated to the local Saint Fina. The different artists, all coming from the Sienese School, were deeply influenced by the Byzantine style and the Giotto’s renaissance style.

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Also one of the Collegiata’s Chapel was dedicated to the local Saint Fina. The legend says that when this young girls passed many miracles occurred. The chapel is considered a stunning example of the Renaissance style.

During the Second World War the church was seriously damaged, luckily a restoration in 1951 bring it back to its original splendor.

Private Underground Rome Tour

Rome - Case Celio - fresco
Rome - St Clement - mithreumRome - St Clement - mosaicRome - St Clement - frescoRome - St Clement - facadeRome - Cripta Cappuccini - interiorRome - Case Celio - confessionale

From: $136.99

 

TOUR DURATION

4 Hours

START TIME

09:00 AM

02:15 PM

MON, Thu, Fri, Sat, SUN

MEETING POINT

Pick-up at your hotel, more details at booking

Tour
Itinerary
Tour
Inclusions
Tour
Information

 

TOUR ITINERARY

Your private guide and driver will meet you at your hotel to take you on your intriguing tour of the underground Rome. The four hour tour will start after getting picked up at your hotel by your guide and driver, and will guide you through the exploration of the treasures hidden below the road surface.

 

The first stop will be in the elegant Via Veneto, near the beautiful Piazza Barberini. Here concealed under the 17th century church of Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappucini there is the Capuchin Crypt. The Crypt is decorated with bones of 4000 Capuchin friars. The bones are shown in order to make people reflect on subjects like life and death.

 

Your journey will then bring you close to the Colosseum in Via Labicana. Here the 12th century Basilica of San Clemente will show you how the Eternal City was built, layer after layer. The Basilica was constructed above a 4th-century church that was built out of a Roman nobleman’s home, which, previously, was developed on top of first-century Roman buildings.

 

Also the beautiful Basilica of Santi Giovanni e Paolo hides a major archeological site: the stunning residential buildings famous as Case Romane del Celio. Explore one of the best conserved Roman complexes is a unique experience!

 

At the end of the tour you will be returned to your hotel.

TOUR INCLUSIONS

– Round trip transportation with private car

– Expert English speaking guide and driver

– Entrance Fees at Capuchin Crypt, Basilica of San Clemente, Case Romane al Celio

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

– Visit of Capuchin Crypt

– Visit of Basilica of San Clemente

– Visit of Case Romane al Celio

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
– Confirmation will be received at time of booking

– Voucher and detailed operator information, including local emergency numbers will be received three weeks before the date of your tour.

– Adult pricing applies to all travelers

– The dress code for men and women is strictly enforced in churches. No shorts, bare shoulders or miniskirts. You may risk refused entry if you fail to comply with these dress requirements.

Departure point:
Pick-up at your accommodation

Duration:
4 hours

Return details:
Drop-off at your accommodation

Private Ostia Antica Tour

Ostia Antica - Bath
Ostia Antica - MosaicOstia Antica - MacineOstia Antica - Diana HouseOstia Antica - BassorilievoOstia Antica - ThermopoliumOstia Antica - Palm view

From: $131.03

 

TOUR DURATION

4 Hours

START TIME

09:00 AM

01:30 PM

Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat, SUN

MEETING POINT

Pick-up at your hotel, more details at booking

Tour
Itinerary
Tour
Inclusions
Tour
Information

 

TOUR ITINERARY

Your private driver and guide will pick you up from your accommodation in Rome to take you on an exciting 4 hour tour dedicated to Ostia Antica.

 

During the short drive from Rome, only 30 kilometers, your guide will give you some background historical information preparing you for your visit of this town which is believed to be one of Rome’s first colonies.

 

This ancient town is so well preserved that as you walk around you will be able to see what would have been the daily life of a roman. This large archaeological site has an amazing collection of well-preserved frescoes, buildings and gorgeous mosaics.

 

Your guided tour will including the oldest buildings discovered, the military camp and the Temple of Jupiter Juno and Minerva, dated around the 3 century BC. Enjoy the gorgeous mosaics and frescoes, as you sit for few minutes on the stairs of the elegant theater.

 

You will be able to see the many transformations of the city unveiled before your eyes. Ostia was a major port for the Roman Empire; the beautiful city then, during the late Roman era, turned into a country retreat for the Roman aristocracy; while after the fall of the empire sadly it became an unstable town constantly attacked by pirates.

 

At the end of your guided tour meet your driver again for your return to Rome.

TOUR INCLUSIONS

– Round trip transportation with private car

– Expert English speaking local guide at disposal

– Entrance Fees at Ostia Antica Archaeological Park

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

– Visit of Ostia Antica Archaeological Park

– Visit of Military Camp

– Visit of Temple of Jupiter Juno and Minerva

– Visit of the Ancient Theater

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
– Confirmation will be received at time of booking

– Voucher and detailed operator information, including local emergency numbers will be received three weeks before the date of your tour.

– Adult pricing applies to all travelers

– We suggest wearing comfortable shoes and clothes as Ostia Antica has uneven terrain.  During summer we suggest to bring a hat, sunscreen and a bottle of water.

Departure point:
Pick-up at your accommodation

Duration:
4 hours

Return details:
Drop-off at your accommodation

Private Pompeii Tour from Sorrento

Pompeii - View
Pompeii - ParticularPompeii - ColumnsPompeii - detailPompeii - columnsPompeii - vasesPompeii - Archeological Park

From: $86.96

 

TOUR DURATION

4 Hours

START TIME

08:30 AM

01:30 pm

Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat, Sun

MEETING POINT

Pick-up at your hotel, more details at booking

Tour
Itinerary
Tour
Inclusions
Tour
Information

 

TOUR ITINERARY

Your private driver will pick you up in the morning to take you on a fascinating half day excursion to Pompeii.

Located near present-day Naples, Pompeii was an ancient Roman city at the foot of the infamous Mount Vesuvius. The volcano erupted in 79 AD, killing the inhabitants and burying the city in ash but, on the other hand, perfectly preserving their way of life. Get ready to travel back in time as your guide takes you through the archeological park, walking you along the same streets that were once frequented by Romans thousands of years ago. During your visit you will discover the public baths, forums, and villas built and used by the inhabitants of Pompeii, as well as a collection of artifacts – from household items to jewelry – recovered from the ashes. You will marvel at the incredibly well-preserved frescoes which still adorn the walls and floors of the villas, and which have allowed visitors and researchers alike to glimpse into what life was like at the time.

Even if your interests do not lie in history, this is an archaeological site that cannot fail to impress you.

At the end of your tour, meet with your driver again to return to your accommodations.

TOUR INCLUSIONS

– Round trip transportation with private car

– Expert English speaking driver coordinator

– Tour of Pompeii Archeological park with local guide (2 hours)

– Pompeii archaeological park entrance fees and reservation (skip the line)

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

– Pompeii Archaeological Park

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
– Confirmation will be received at time of booking

– Voucher and detailed operator information, including local emergency numbers will be received three weeks before the date of your tour.

– Adult pricing applies to all travelers.

– We suggest wearing comfortable shoes and clothes as Pompeii Archaeological Park has uneven terrain. During summer we suggest to bring a hat, sunscreen and a bottle of water.

Departure point:

Pick-up at your accommodation

Duration:
4 hours

Return details:
Drop-off at your Accommodation

San Carlo Opera House – Naples

Naples - Teatro san Carlo - View from the top
Naples - Teatro San Carlo - View from Via San CarloNaples - Teatro San Carlo - View from the Royal BoxNaples - teatro San Carlo - Ceiling

Also known as Royal Theater of Saint Charles, the Teatro di San Carlo is an opera house connected to the Royal Palace in Piazza del Plebiscito, at the center of Naples. Considered to be the oldest continuously active theatre in Europe, it was opened to the public in 1737, well before other famed opera houses such as the Teatro alla Scala in Milan or the Teatro La Fenice in Venice.

Originally commissioned by King Charles VII of Naples in the early 18th century, the theater was designed by architects Giovanni Antonio Medrano and Angelo Carasale, and was inaugurated in 1737. The grandiose theater can hold over 3000 people, plus a royal box overlooking the floor that can contain an additional ten spectators. Over the years, the opera house hosted some of the most renowned musicians, singers and composers of their time.

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Although somewhat plain from the outside, the interior of the theater is richly decorated with gold decorations, statues of important figures, and an impressive fresco on the ceiling depicting Apollo and Athena as patrons of the arts. The Teatro di San Carlo was renovated and improved a number of times, most notably after it sustained damage from bombings during World War II.

While it is no longer the center of the classical music scene of Italy today, the Teatro di San Carlo remains one of the most important opera houses in Europe.

Royal Palace – Naples

Naples - Royal Palace - Main Stairs
Naples - Royal Palace - Side ViewNaples - Royal Palace - InteriorNaples - Royal Palace - Front View

Located in the heart of Naples is the Royal Palace, a grand structure that was once the residence of the Bourbon Kings. It faces the Piazza del Plebiscito and shares the space with two other palaces, Palazzo della Prefettura and Palazzo Salerno, as well as the impressive Basilica di san Francesco di Paola.

Built in the early 17th century by the architect Domenico Fontana, it was intended to host King Philip III of Spain on his visit of the kingdom but he never arrived in Naples so instead, it became the residence of Viceroy Fernando Ruiz de Castro. Over the years, the interior was lavishly decorated with frescoes by various masters then, following the arrival of Charles III of Spain to Naples in 1734, several artists remodeled and expanded the palace. A small theatre and a new wing were added in the later 18th century, while a belvedere and an additional wing were added during the mid 19thcentury.

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In the 1920s, it was decreed that the collection of the National Library be transferred to the palace. Unfortunately, the palace suffered considerable damage from bombs during World War II, requiring extensive renovations to the structure and interiors. Today, the Royal Palace hosts the famed Royal Theatre of Saint Charles, the National Library collection, a museum, and several offices.

Spoleto

Spoleto - Roman Theatre
Spoleto - Rocca Albornoziana - viewSpoleto - Ponte delle TorriSpoleto - Village - view

Spoleto is part of the province of Perugia; it is one of the oldest cities in Umbria. The city is located between Rome and Assisi on a low hill at the base of the Apennines.

Spoleto is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Thanks to its strategic geographical location Spoleto have been very important since the Umbri tribes’ time. They fortified the town in the 5th century BCE; it is still possible to see part of the walls.

During the Roman period it was a flourishing city, its wine was already very popular.

Under the Lombards domination Spoleto became the capital of the Duchy of Spoleto; in 774 it was annexed to the Holy Roman Empire. Almost four centuries later the city was destroyed by Frederick Barbarossa. In 1213 the town became part of the Papal States.

At the beginning of the 19th century when Napoleon’s troops conquered part of the Italian territory Spoleto became the capital of the Trasimene Department. Not even five years later the city went back under the Papal command. In 1860 it became part of the Italian Reign.

Spoleto is dominated by the Albornoz fortress; the fort is considered the symbol of the city. The building was constructed at the end of the 14th century by the architect Matteo Gattapone of Gubbio for Cardinal Albornoz. The Fortress is formed by six towers that divided the structure in two separated spaces: the Cortile delle Armi and the Cortile d’onore. The first one was used by the army while the second one by the Spoleto’s governor.

Very famous is the Camera Pinta (Painted Room) with its stunning frescoes.

The fortress protected the city from many attacks for centuries. At the beginning of the 19th century however it was converted in a jail. Only in 2007 was opened to the public as a museum.

Walking around Spoleto its history will unfold in front of your eyes. In particular the roman presence is still strong; many roman buildings survived the centuries: the Ponte Sanguinario (Bloody Bridge) dated 1st century BCE; a gorgeous house with stunning mosaics floors (probably the house of the Emperor Vespasian’s mother); a theatre and an amphitheater. The last two were heavily rebuilt many times. On the theatre’s stage it was built the former Church of St. Agatha that today houses the National Archeological Museum, however part of the ancient theatre is still used to host various performances. The amphitheatre was converted many times: it became a fortress, later it was used for storage and divided in many shops, and finally when the Albornoz fortress was erected many of its stones were used as building material.

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Notable are also the numerous churches of Spoleto. The Duomo of S. Maria Assunta (Assumption of Mary) is a beautiful example of Romanesque style. The construction started at the end of the 12th century and it was completed in 1227. The Cathedral houses the tomb of the famous artist Filippo Lippi and an original letter wrote by Saint Francis of Assisi.

The Church of San Pietro extra Moenia is considered together with the Church of San Rufino in Assisi the best representation of Umbrian Romanesque architecture. The first church was built on top of a necropolis in 419 to store the chains of Saint Peter; however there are many doubts about their authenticity. Many renovations have interested the building; the most important it was the one that added the Romanesque façade with stunning relief decoration. During the baroque period the interior was restyled.

The Basilica of San Salvatore is considered a very important example of Early Christian Architecture. Originally built during the 4th century it was renovated during the Lombards dominations. In 2011 the UNESCO nominated it a World Heritage Site.

Duomo di Orvieto

Orvieto - Duomo - side view
Orvieto - DuomoOrvieto - Duomo - ParticularOrvieto - Duomo - Fresco

Pope Urban IV ordered the erection of the Duomo di Orvieto, a Roman Catholic Cathedral dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta (Assumption of Mary). The construction lasted three centuries: the result  is a unique blend of Romanesque and Gothic styles.

The Duomo was built to commemorate the miracle of the Corporal of Bolsena. The legend says that in 1263 a priest who doubted about the truth of transubstantiation found his Host bleeding on the altar cloth. The miracle happened in Bolsena, a small town very close to Orvieto. A chapel was built to house the cloth: the Chapel of the Corporal.

The Duomo dominates the city.

The Gothic façade’s design includes elements from the 14th to the 20th century however it is considered one of the masterpieces of the late medieval period. The design is credited to the Sienese architect Lorenzo Maitani. The artist and his collaborators created the stunning bas-reliefs and statues with the Evangelists’ symbols that are considered between the most celebrated sculptures of the period. During the second half of the 14th century Matteo di Ugolino da Bologna added the Bronze Lamb of God and statue of Saint Michael. The Artist Cesare Nebbia designed the mosaics that were realized between 1350 and 1390. Unfortunately the mosaics were replaced several times in the centuries since. The Cathedral’s five bells were added during the renaissance period. The three bronze doors that give access to the church are the latest addition to the façade décor. The doors were completed only in 1970 by Emilio Greco, a Sicilian sculptor.

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The Duomo’s side walls are simply decorated with local basalt stone and white travertine.

The interior of the Cathedral is very spacious and neat. Its walls are like the exterior one adorned with travertine and alabaster. During the 19th century the top part of the walls were painted in black and white.

Throughout the 16th century many frescoes were covered with stucco.

The Chapel of the Corporal was built between 1350 and 1356; it houses the corporal of the miracle of Bolsena and the tomb of Pietro Parenzo a city’s major who was murdered in 1199.

Villa Lante – Viterbo

Viterbo - Villa - Lante - water
Viterbo - Villa - Lante - viewViterbo  - Villa Lante - Side viewViterbo - Villa - Lante - garden

Located in Bagnaia, near Viterbo, is the stunning Villa Lante.

Two Casini (houses) built in a severe Mannerist style form the villa; they are very similar but they were built in different periods by diverse owners.

The oldest bulding (on the right side) was commissioned by Cardinal Gianfrancesco Gambara. The design is attributed to Vignola, the great 16th century architect.

The construction started in 1566. The first Casino and garden were quickly finished but than the work was suspended until the death of Gambara.

In 1587 Cardinal Alessandro Peretti became the new Apostolic Administrator of Viterbo. He was only 17-years-old when he decided to complete the Bagnaia’s villa.

The main differences between the two casini are the frescoes: landscapes for the Gambara’s casino and more classical themes for the Peretti’s one.

Villa Lante is mainly famous for its stunning gardens. The gorgeous fountains were perfected by Tommaso Ghinucci, a hydraulic engineer from Siena. Today it is still possible to enjoy the perfect flow of the water thanks to him.

Villa Lante took its name after Ippolito Lante Montefeltro della Rovere, Duke of Bomarzo, 100 years after its construction.

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The Lante family maintained the ownership of the villa for centuries.

During the Second World War both the gardens and Casini were half destroyed by Allied Bombs.

In the late 20th century the villa was completely restored.

Today the stunning Villa Lante is included in the Grandi Giardini Italiani, the Italian garden’s association.

Church of St. Ignazio – Rome

Rome - St Ignazio - exterior
Rome - St Ignazio - interiorRome - St Ignazio - frescoRome - St Ignazio - dome

The colossal Baroque Church of St. Ignazio is dedicated to the founder of the Society of Jesus: Ignatius of Loyola.

In 1560 the Marchesa della Valle donated an entire city’s block to the Jesuit Order. The Church construction struggled with money shortage since the beginning. Named the Church of the Annunciation was built by Giovanni Tristano, a Jesuit himself, only with Jesuit labour. It became immediately the Chapel of the Roman College. Soon the number of students that attended the College grew and Pope Gregory XV, inspired by the canonization of St. Ignatius, ordered the erection of a new church dedicated to the Saint. The construction started in 1626; the church was opened to the public in 1650 for the Jubilee but the final consecration was celebrated only in 1722.

Things to see

The Church of the Gesu’, the Jesuit mother church, was the model for this building.

A unique feature characterizes this church: as a result of the money shortage the Jesuit hired a painter, Andrea Pozzo, to depict the dome. The artist was able to recreate a perspectival projection in order to give visitors the illusion of a cupola that doesn’t exist. Standing on a marvel disk positioned into the middle of the nave floor it is possible to be fooled and actually believe in the existence of the dome.

Pozzo’s frescoes represent the work of St. Ignatius and his Order.

The chapel located at the south-east corner accommodates the funeral memorial of Pope Gregory XV and Cardinal Ludovisi, st. Ignazio church’s founder.

Case Romane del Celio – Rome

Rome - Case Celio - confessionale
Rome- Ss Giovanni e Paolo - FacadeRome - Case Celio - interiorRome - Case Celio - fresco

Hidden under the beautiful Basilica of Santi Giovanni e Paolo lays a major archaeological site: the stunning buildings famous as Case Romane del Celio. The complex is considered one of the best examples of Roman residential buildings.

In 1887 the Rector of the Basilica, Father Germano da San Stanislao, while looking for the tombs of the martyrs John and Paul discovered this amazing site. Twenty well conserved and decorated rooms were found. At least five different buildings are part of this complex, all dated between the 1st and 4th century AD.

Only in 1951 the architect Prandi brought to the light the entire complex.

In 2002 the site was completely open to the public.

Today is possible to enter the site through Via Clivio di Scauro one of Rome’s oldest street.

Things to see

Visitors can admire original frescoes, partly representing pagan themes, like the Proserpine myth; while the “newer” ones are dedicated to the Christian cult.  In one room are also present traces of mosaics dated 3rd century AD.

Some of the rooms were transformed by Christians into an oratory and a beautifully decorated confessional was built during the 4th century.

A visit to this amazingly well conserved site will deepen your understanding of how Ancient Rome was built.

 

Basilica of San Clement – Rome

Rome - St Clement - mosaic
Rome - St Clement - mithreumRome - St Clement - frescoRome - St Clement - facade

Close to the Colosseum in Via Labicana the 12th century Basilica of San Clemente dedicated to Pope Clement I demonstrates how the Eternal City was built, layer after layer.

The history of this church is very fascinating. The actual Basilica was built during the Middle Ages (1100) on top of a 4th-century church that was constructed out of a Roman nobleman’s home, which, previously, was developed on top of first-century Roman buildings destroyed in the Great Fire of 64 AD.

The ancient church was used since the 1st century as a clandestine Christian place of worship. After the Catholic Church grew in power and popularity it was transformed in a Basilica.

At the end of the 17th century when England outlawed the Irish Catholic Church Pope Urban VII granted refuge here to the Irish Dominicans.

Things to see

The Basilica of San Clement is amongst the most opulently decorated churches in Rome.

The main entrance is across a beautiful atrium today used as a cloister.

The Façade designed by Fontana in 1719 is supported by antique columns. Many marble pieces of the antique basilica were used during the restoration of the church.

The richly decorated ceiling, stucco décor, Ionic capitals and frescoes that are possible to admire today were also added by Fontana. The amazing mosaics of the apse are otherwise an example of Roman 12th century mosaics.

In the lower levels some of the most impressive fragments of ancient Roman houses can be clearly seen.

Ostia Antica

Ostia Antica - Mithraeum
Ostia Antica - ForumOstia Antica - Ruin viewOstia Antica - Mosaic

Ostia was probably Roman Empires first colony.

The city, situated at the mouth of the Tiber River, was Rome’s seaport. Thanks to years of silting the site is now located 3 kilometers from the sea.

In 68 BC Ostia was attacked by pirates and partly destroyed. When it was reconstructed protective walls were added.

When Constantine I became Emperor Ostia started a slow decline. Other ports were built and the city turned into a country retreat for rich people. With the end of the Empire Ostia was abandoned.

During the Baroque period many architects used the site as a marble’s warehouse; several of the Baroque palaces present in Rome were built with Ostia’s marble. Also ancient objects and statues were “sacked” during this period.

The Popes started to gain interest in the site, but only under Mussolini the site was explored by archeologists. The excavations, interrupted by the Second World War, helped to rediscover many buildings from the republican period.

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A Synagogue was also discovered around the second half of the 20th century. The Ostia Synagogue is the oldest one found in Europe.

Extremely interesting is the visit of the public latrinas literally latrines. It seems very strange to us now but in the times of the Romans, public latrines were places to socialize. This area of Ostia reveals the importance of this custom.

The amazing theatre of Ostia is also a must see.  This well preserved site offers a wonderful view of the ancient streets.  A wonderful spot from which to cast yourself back in time!