The Eternal city of Rome is ever-popular as an all year round city break destination. There are so many sights to see in this incredible city – the Colosseum, the Pantheon, the Spanish Steps, the Trevi Fountain, to name but a few. Many visitors simply run out of time and vow to return another day to complete their explorations. Those who have taken a longer break or those seeking an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, particularly in the searing heat of high summer, can look a little further afield and find some architectural jewels on the outskirts of the city.
The long-buried city of Ostia Antica is the former seaport and naval base of ancient Rome. It stands at the mouth of the Tiber, 14 miles south west of the capital. In its heyday Ostia had 100,000 residents and boasted splendid baths, a theatre, temples and imposing houses. These ruins, which have been incredibly well preserved, are set among groves of cypresses and pines. They probably reveal more about daily life and the building methods of ancient Rome than do those of the capital. You can wander at will amongst the ruins and imagine life in this bustling port city. Ostia Antica can be reached by local train: from Termini Station, you’ll have to take the Metro B( Blue Line) direction Eur Laurentina. You change at Piramide and take the Ostia Lido train and to Ostia Lido Centro.
Another very worthwhile day out is to the picturesque town of Tivoli (about 36 miles from the centre of Rome) and in particular to the Villa d’Este with its famous gardens, a masterpiece of the Italian gardening style. Dark cypresses, fountains, grottoes, pools and statues cannot fail to delight the visitor. Tivoli can be reached by train from Rome Tiburtina station. The train ride takes about one hour, but Tivoli’s train station is about three-quarters of a mile out of town, so you’ll need to catch the special shuttle bus into the town centre.
Villa Adriana, or “Hadrian’s Villa” lies a further 5 miles from Tivoli and can be reached by bus. These haunting ruins of Emperor Hadrian’s summer residence are tucked into a wooded hillside. Much of the villa was designed by Hadrian himself to recapture some of the marvels of his empire. It combines the best elements of the architectural heritage of Egypt, Greece and Rome in the form of an ‘ideal city’.