Ostia, the port of ancient Rome, now lying 5km/3mi inland from the Tyrrhenian Sea and close to Fiumicino Airport, is the largest excavation site in Italy after Pompeii.
The excavated remains of Ostia give a vivid picture of life in the port which supplied Rome. Ancient Ostia was founded about the fourth century B.C. in an area of salt-pans at the mouth (ostia) of the Tiber. From about 300 B.C. it was the principal Roman naval base, and under the Empire developed into a considerable town of 50,000 inhabitants and was Rome's largest suburb and commercial port, through which the city's supplies of corn were brought in. After the fall of the Roman Empire Ostia fell a victim to decay and the ravages of malaria. The harbor silted up, and in 1558 the Tiber changed its course.