For my 27th birthday, brilliant friends Roberta and Jasmin decided we should all head out of Rome to go see some ruins. As we were all awaiting the arrival of our respective stipends, my birthday cake came in the form of a 1€ train station donut. But hey, the donut was strawberry-flavored and poverty is nothing new to any PhD student.
Ostia Antica is the ancient port of Rome, and used to be the mouth of the Tiber River. It’s a sprawling ancient metropolis which is surprisingly accessible by public transportation and yet quite under-appreciated by locals and tourists alike. It was a simple matter to get there: we took the Lido-bound train from Piramide. got out at the Ostia Antica station, and crossed the blue bridge. No new train ticket required, luckily the Lido train is under the ATAC system otherwise we probably couldn’t have afforded an out-of-town birthday treat.
As we went on the day of my 27th birthday, this made me just a touch too old to qualify for the student discount— only for students 26 and below, until your 27th birthday! But the nice men in the booth acquiesced to a compleanno discount so I only paid half the rate. A comment on my TripAdvisor post said that they used to not charge on your birthday, but this has obviously changed. In any case, the normal rate was 10€ per person, free for students and teachers of archeology as well as the disabled (though it is quite impossible to get around on a wheelchair inside). Half rate for students below 26 years old.
We spent a good three hours climbing in and out of the ruins and a good long while just sitting in the amphitheater, watching other tourists shout “essere o non essere” in various languages from the bottom stage. And there was cat! At that point, with my boy, good friends, and a remarkably Asian-looking cat, my birthday was complete.
When we visited there was also a simultaneous modern art exhibit placed in random spots around Ostia Antica, which made for a jarring experience as we’d see ruin ruin ruin SURPRISE MODERN ART! But I suppose that’s one way for the artist to get their sculptures seen. It wasn’t bad art, just… weird to see it in such an old place.
Post-ruins, we had a lovely lunch by the seashore, watched a man in a wetsuit dive into the water with a harpoon, and sampled local gelato. All in all, a lovely escape.