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BLOG OF A TOUR GUIDE IN ROME

THE OLD FAST FOOD OF ANCIENT ROME AND OSTIA

05/10/2020 13:10

Gianluca Pica

Archaeology, Roman Empire, Rome, Archeological Park of Ostia Antica, #roma, #rome, #romeisus, #archeologia, #unaguidaturisticaroma, #archeology, #atourguiderome,

THE OLD FAST FOOD OF ANCIENT ROME AND OSTIA

In the magnificent Archaeological Park of Ostia Antica we also have a perfect example of a "thermopolium", a sort of fast-food...

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What you are looking at in this picture is maybe one of the most characteristics and pictoresques areas of the amazing Archeological Park of Ostia Antica, that I suggest you to visit. I'm talking about the thermopolium, a perfect example of how in the ancient times the ordinary people used to live exactly as we do today. Ready?


Thermopolium is a Greek word literally meaning for "sell hot things". Why? Simply because this shop was a real...ancient fast food! The cities under the control of Rome, and Rome itself of course, used to give to people and customers whatever they wanted, providing them hot food. As happened in this case at the ancient city of Ostia, where today there is the wonderful and gorgeous archeological park where you can really travel in time. And in a big city like this one a thermopolium was just one of the numerous activities that the inhabitants could do. Not only that, because like in other examples this fast food was located inside an apartment block full of rooms used for different things. This block had a central and opened courtyard, following the architectonical styles of that time. To complete this description imagine how this building had at least other two floors and the ground one, where the thermopolium is located. 


Then do you see the amphora at the background? There there was a counter having circular holes on the top. They were the openings of the so called dolia, huge terracotta vases which were insert in the marble counter where the food was conserved. From the openings the innkeeper used to take the food serving it to the people which were sat down just in front of them.


I love very much the past things (and for a local tour guide it is something normal) so I simply adore this wonderful place, a building where impressed me also for the marble counter that basically is the original one. Moreover many tools, which were usually used inside an inn, where found by the archeologists during the excavations (like a mortar, for example). And then don't forget how the ancient Romans used to think about each single detail. That's the reason why on the right you can find some frescos which depict some food. Why? You are simply observing a real menu, better that that one of McDonald's! In this way we can understand how a thermopolium used to serve meat, fish, beans or vegetables. Last curiosity: more than the Greek therm the ancient Romans used to us the Latin version of thermopoliumpopina, which literally means pub.

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