This February (2014) I took my mum to Rome for 6 nights while my dad and brother went hiking in Germany. I learnt so much and visited a good number of places that I felt my experience may be helpful to others so here is a blog-advice-guide. I’ll cover the most popular sites in Rome, as well as taking the Italian railway to Pompeii and the metro system within the Rome vicinity.
Trip to Ostia Antica (with Metro advice), Terme di Caracalla, Porte de San Sebastian.
We had always planned to go to Ostia Antica on the best weather day to enjoy the ruins in glorious bright light. You can reach it very easily at a very affordable price via the Metro system. You can Metro tickets from newsagents or from the stations themselves. One journey used within 100 minutes of buying will cost you €1.50. Yes that’s right. €1.50. That will take you all the way out to the site. If you wanted an unlimited number of journeys in one day, for instance if you were going to go on to the Lido (beach) afterwards then get the €6 ticket.
We went from Termini station (as it was closest took our hotel) and took the B line to Piramide. Head for the exit but do not exit the station. At the top of the stairs turn left to the Porte San Paolo platforms. The Rome-Lido line runs from here and counts within your €1.50 Metro ticket journey as you aren’t exiting a station.
Once you disembark at the Ostia Antica station, go over the blue footbridge and follow signs for the site. Unfortunately for us we made it out all this way and the site was closed due to the bad weather all of Europe was experiencing at the time. Very very disappointed! Check out their website for entry details: http://www.ostia-antica.org.
So we made our way back to Rome (another €1.50) and decided to get off at Circo Massimo to admire the old chariot track. It’s now an open expanse of grass with some excavation at one end but was the inspiration for films such as Ben Hurr. Our bad luck earlier in the day was made up for as we found the Terme di Caracalla on the hill behind the Colosseum (Parco Egerio). This was always marked on the map but is lesser known. This huge Roman leisure facility is really worth their entry fee at €3 reduced entry (18-25 again), €6 full price. There is an audio guide option but we only noticed the signs part way round and wished we’d taken the option as we went in. These are stunningly huge and a fantastic example of Roman architecture, design and living.
Continuing on through the park we walked to Porte de San Sebastián. This huge entry gate to Rome in the Aurelian wall marks the start of the Appian Way- one of Rome’s oldest roads full of history.
You can’t really walk down the road straight from here as the path stops after a few hundred metres. The whole road is closed to traffic on Sundays though, so give it a go then. You can hire bikes to cycle the length of it and end up at the catacombs. I visited some catacombs on a previous visit and they’re incredibly creepy but fascinating so go if you can.