Central Italy and Rome, Handbook for Travellers

By Karl Baedeker | Go to book overview

5. The Sea Coast of Latium.

Communication with the sea was of far greater importance to ancient than to modern Rome, and its former facility was one of the chief factors in the attainment of the proud rank held by the mistress of the world. Vast harbours and other structures were accordingly founded at the estuary of the Tiber. The coast was a favourite resort of the wealthy as the numerous villas testify; but the deposits of mud and sand left by the Tiber, especially when in flood, have thrown forward the coast line and entirely altered its appearance. It is now desolate, and is skirted by a broad belt of forest (macchia), where the malaria in summer is endemic. Lofty sand-hills (tumoleti), extending to the S. beyond the Pontine Marshes, bound the whole coast.


Porto. Fiumicino. Ostia.

From Rometo Fiumioino, 21 M., railway in 1½ hr. (3 fr. 95, 2 fr. 80, 1 fr. 80 c.; there and back 5 fr. 95, 4 fr. 20, 2 fr. 70 c.). Express trains do not stop at Ponte Galera (see below). — The excursion from Fiumicino to Ostia and Castel Fusano takes about 6 hrs. there and back, on foot. By carriage or motor-car (p. 157) it is most conveniently made direct from Rome (13 M.; one horse earr. 20-25, two horse 30-40 fr., and driver's fee). This is also a good cycling excursion (comp. p. 157); the Via Ostiensis (p. 493), beginning at the Porta San Paolo (p. 329), gradually descends (except for the Decima Hills) almost all the way from Rome to (1 ½ hr.) Ostia. In the spring of 1908 a motor-omnibus ran from the Piazza di Spagna to Ostia. Luncheon should be brought, and the beautiful cella of the temple at Ostia or the woods at Castel Fusano may be chosen as a resting-place. There is no inn at Castel Fusano.

The railway describes a circuit round the town (comp. p. 10). 6 M. Roma San Paolo (p. 10), the junction for the line from Trastevere (p. 118). — 9 ½ M. Magliana. Close to the station, on the hill to the right, is the Vigna Jacobini, the site of the sacred Grove of the Arvales, a brotherhood ('fratres Arvales') of. very ancient Latin origin, founded, according to tradition, by the sons of Acca Larentia, the foster-mother of Romulus.

The ancient foundations on which the Casino of the vigna rests belong either to the circular temple of the Dea Dia, or to an imperial. temple (Cæsareum). Fragments of the records of the society during the imperial period, engraved on stone, have been discovered (p. 197). In the plain below the grove (on the other side of the road) there are remains of a rectangular building, with a hall enclosed by rows of columns. — Higher up the hill lay an ancient Christian burial-place, where remains of an oratory of Pope Damasus I. have been discovered. Adjacent is the entrance (closed) to the small Catacombs of St. Generosa, which are interesting for their primitive construction and excellent preservation.

About ½ M. farther on, to the left of the railway, is situated the ruinous hunting-château of La Magliana, with pleasing Renaissance details, once a favourite retreat of Innocent VIII., Julius II., and Leo X., and now the property of the convent of Santa Cecilia (frescoes' in the Palazzo dei Conservatori, p. 285).

14 ½ M. Ponte Galera, see p. 10. Carriages are changed here. The branch-line to Fiumicino continues to run towards the S.W.

18 ½ M. Porto (no inn) was founded in A.D. 103 by the Emp. Trajan (Portus Traiani), as the harbour constructed by Claudius as a substitute for that of Ostia (set p. 490), which had become

-489-

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