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Hustling, bustling Rome lies in Italy’s Lazio region. From ancient times on through the present day, wealthy Romans have built country villas and weekend homes in the countryside outside of Rome, away from the chaos and pollution of the city. For this reason, much of Lazio is easily accessed by public transportation, making it easy for tourists to make day trips to interesting places.

One of these places is the ancient port city of Ostia Antica, at the mouth of the Tevere River. Founded in the 4th century BC, it was a center of trade and commerce for centuries. Today, its ruins offer a fascinating glimpse of Rome’s early days.

To reach Ostia Antica, take the Metro Linea B (subway line B) to Piramide station. Exit the subway and cross the street to the Ostiense rail station. Catch the train labeled Ostia Lido (this is a surface train). If you have a weekly or monthly Metro pass, it will also be good for this railway line. Exit the train at Ostia Antica’s station.

The ruins are open daily from 9 am until sunset. Admission is approximately $5.00 in U.S. funds. The gateway to the city is known as the Porta Romana (Roman door). It will lead you to the main road, the Decumanus Maximus. The ruins of the city are quite spread out, so leave yourself several hours to wander through them. An ancient theatre, restored in 1927, now houses concerts and symphonies. A museum displays statues, mosaics and frescoes, which were recovered from the site.

If you get an early start from Rome, it is possible to browse through Ostia Antica in the morning, have lunch, and then head on to the beach. Back at the train station, catch a train continuing on in the same direction (away from Rome; toward the coast). Exit the train at Ostia Lido station and either walk the several blocks to the shoreline or catch a taxi. Much of the coast is lined with private beaches belonging to hotels and resorts; bypass those and continue on to the public beach. Due to its proximity to Rome, the Lido di Ostia is not the nicest beach, at least by American standards, but it offers a refreshing respite from the dusty city streets. To find cleaner, sandier beaches, it’s necessary to travel further south to Sperlonga or Sabaudia.