Wandering around the ancient city

Aitza hangs my essentials.

Aitza hangs my essentials.

We finally did it. Out of the apartment by 10:30 a.m. No easy feat with 9 people, including 2 kids and a wheelchair. Aitza was actually up at 7:30 a.m. doing washing and hanging it on the lines outside. The Roman population now knows what my skivvies look like.

IMG_2479Our journey took us to Ostia Antica, an ancient city that thrived in the 2nd and 3rd centuries as the premier port along the Tiber for people and goods traveling into Rome. That pack of hyenas you saw mauling Christians in the Coliseum games yesterday probably came through Ostia. So did your Moroccan bangles, those Judean figs you had for breakfast, and the Croatian marble bidet you used after eating all those figs. The port silted up after a few centuries, the Tiber changed course and Ostia was abandoned. I’m always amazed that a city can just fade away. I guess this is how Detroit feels.

Hopping on the train

Hopping on the train

After filling Shade’s Freewheel with air from the local gas station (nearly flat from so many cobblestone obstacles … cobbstacles?), we hopped on the 3B bus to Piramide train station. On our first day in Rome, Aitza bought travel cards for the Fam 4, but we have yet to have one person ask us for tickets. I’m fairly certain, if you were in a jam (wallet stolen or just plain broke), you could ride the entire length of the country for free.

Piramide is so named for the 125-foot-high, steep-sided pyramid right outside the train station. Built in 18 B.C, it’s the only one in the Rome area. It’s currently being cleaned, so the façade was covered in scaffolding, but it was still visible beneath. Such a wonder should have tourists flabbergasted and eager to learn more, or so you’d think. Aitza and Brett’s sister Andrea found stopping here for 10 minutes to admire a unique artifact simply annoying. The lesson: if you want to soak up the history of Rome, don’t travel in a group of 9 because every time you stop to read a plaque, you’re holding up the group. History is for lone travelers, I guess.

I finally got my ball.

I finally got my ball.

From the time we stepped on the plane in Orlando, Mayan has been hounding us to buy a soccer ball. Aitza got him a grapefruit-sized bouncy ball, which we’ve been using for indoor hallway tourneys, but at Pyramide train station, he finally found a real ball. You’d think a nation of soccer fanatics would have soccer balls on sale at every kiosk, café and curbside, but this is the first one we had found in all Italy. That ball was well broken in during our exploration of Ostia.

Pasta. Imagine that.

Pasta. Imagine that.

a bit hot

a bit hot

Playing soccer in the courtyard

Playing soccer in the courtyard

Our first stop was lunch. The restaurant outside the ancient city was a bit cheesy. The waiter was wearing a silly mock up of a bright red Roman tunic, his hairy bare legs poking out from beneath. It was reminiscent of a tacky International Drive tourist trap. We decided on a restaurant up the street where we could sit under umbrellas and Mayan and I could kick the ball against the stone walls in the nearby courtyard.

Lemoncello

Lemoncello

The meal here was average at best, but after the meal, the manager brought out some lemoncello and biscotti, on the house. Lemoncello is syrupy sweet, a bit much for the ladies in our party, but Edwin, Brett and I managed to finish the bottle. Dedication to consumption.

A note on Italian helpfulness: it can be painful. Shade needed to use the facilities inside, and as I prepared to lift his wheelchair backward up the stairs, the waiter rushed over to give a hand. He grabbed the front and yanked up, I nearly lost my footing and twisted my knee. No permanent damage, but I was limping for a bit.

Mayan does parcour

Mayan does parcour

IMG_2531With full bellies, we waddled into Ostia Antica. Because much of the city was buried in silt, the stones didn’t get cannibalized for other constructions, which was the fate of many ancient wonders in Rome. Thus, the Crampton Clan had a well-preserved playground to explore. Mayan practiced his parcour on the walls of old houses. Shade scaled steps to second story overviews. Aitza got her exercise pushing the wheelchair over broken terrain. After about an hour, Andrea got antsy to hit the beach (too much history!), so she and Brett took the train to Ostia de Lido and left us to explore. IMG_2578 IMG_2583Tombs, baths, statues, city blocks, amphitheaters, major thoroughfares, nooks and crannies, all in a beautiful park setting of fragrant flower beds, grassy knolls on which to kick the ball around, and umbrella pines shading us. We never saw the end of the city; it just kept going and going.

Eventually, we decided to head to the beach as well.  Two train stops down. By the way, the trains (and nearly every stationary surface in Rome) are covered in graffiti. I thought the tagging culture had kicked, but it’s alive and well in Rome.

The beach was the least impressive spot we’ve experienced so far. Grey sand and freezing water. Shade, Mayan and I spent most of our time playing soccer and wrestling on the beach. An improvised dinner of cheeses, dried meats, olives, and for me, Birra Moretti, helped tie us over until we got home.

By the time we arrived at the apartment, it was dark. The sand in our shorts nearly clogged the shower drains. We showered up, the kids dragged their mattresses into our room for a slumber party, and we watched Gladiator (again!) on the TV. Guess what? Maximus’s army was waiting for him in Ostia. I knew I’d heard about that place before.

IMG_2618 IMG_2584 IMG_2613 IMG_2611 IMG_2607 IMG_2600 IMG_2598 IMG_2591

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Michelle
    Jun 14, 2013 @ 20:48:17

    Love seeing your familia enjoying time together! Can’t wait for the boys to come to BLAST and tell us all about it, well at least from their point of view!

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: