We had enough of the dead so the following day we decided to visit Anzio. Again, we turned to the train to deliver us safely to this quiet fishing village south of Rome. Terminii is a large modern station with restaurants and bars on the first floor overlooking the trains parked and picking up passengers pulling in and departing across 28 plus lines. We had breakfast and watched the trains until our train was due to depart.
The train station at Anzio is approximately 500 metres from the water front. The downhill stroll was relatively easy however the same cannot be said for the return trip. Anzio has been established since ancient times.
Anzio occupies a part of the ancient Antium territory. In ancient times, Antium was the capital of the Volsci people until it was conquered by the Romans. Leading Romans built magnificent seaside villas there and when Cicero returned from exile, it was at Antium that he reassembled the battered remains of his libraries, where the scrolls would be secure. Remains of Roman villas are conspicuous all along the shore, both to the east and to the north-west of the town. Many ancient masterpieces of sculpture have been found there: the Fanciulla d’Anzio, the Borghese Gladiator (in the Louvre) and the Apollo Belvedere (in the Vatican) were all discovered in the ruins of villas at Antium.
Of the villas, the most famous was the imperial villa, known as the Villa of Nero, which was used by each Emperor in turn, up to the Severans and which extended some 800 metres (2,600 ft) along the seafront of the Capo d’Anzio. Augustus received a delegation from Rome there to acclaim him Pater patriae (“Father of his Country”). The Julian and Claudian emperors frequently visited it; both Emperor Caligula and Nero were born in Antium. Nero razed the villa on the site to rebuild it on a more massive and imperial scale including a theatre. Nero also founded a colony of veterans and built a new harbour, the projecting moles of which still exist.
In the Middle Ages Antium was deserted in favour of Nettuno, which maintained the legacy of the ancient city. Pope Pius IX founded the modern municipality of Anzio, with the boundaries of Nettuno being redrawn to accommodate the new town.
Anzio and Nettuno are also notable as sites of an Allied forces landing and the ensuing Battle of Anzio during World War II. The Commonwealth Anzio War Cemetery and Beach Head War Cemetery are located here.
Strolling down from the station we entered the village at the edge of the market square. The square was bustling all the way to the waterfront where you can still see evidence of the refurbishment of the harbour ordered by Emperor Nero. We walked through the square and along the water front past a Jewish synagogue with middle eastern architecture past beaches lined with umbrellas the colours indicating the different business owners of the beach, a lighthouse standing over caverns in the sea wall delineated as though they were once part of the harbour which lead us up to the ridge running along the sea shore. Scores of ruins lay around between beaches and across the ridge.
A fence prevented us from walking amongst the ruins. We walked about 1000 metres and came upon a visitor centre where we watched a video explaining the ancient ruins all around. We then followed the path taking us on a journey through time and the ruins. We were standing where Emperors like Caligula and Nero had once stood in their holiday villas.
It was hot and the walking was taking a toll. We still had to get back to the train station and we had come such a long way out of the old village. We made our way back attempting a short cut, but it was now the middle of the afternoon and the ocean breeze was not helping much. Mixed in with this was we had only a light lunch and the expectation that we would pick something up before the train proved illusory. Back on the train we journeyed to Terminii and our apartment for the last time. Tomorrow we would catch the train/underground to Leonardo da Vinci – Fumucino airport and home to Brissie.
As I am writing this 6 months after the events (not my usual practice but time did not permit) I cannot be sure that the next event happened on the way to Fumicino or another day we caught the lift at Terminii. Waiting for passengers to alight for the lift carriage two women came from behind me pushing me forward rather than waiting for the passengers in the lift to leave. Then I felt a hand in my pocket so I turned and using my forearm against the throat of the culprit I pushed her back against the wall with her feet off the ground. I screamed at her to remove her hand. She quickly got her hand out of my pocket and so I removed my forearm and then backed into the lift carriage.
Quite a bit of excitement but it reaffirmed for me that you cannot let your guard down in Rome particularly the underground. Kerry who had no idea what was going on, was quite shocked that I would attack this woman and accused me of being impatient and losing my temper.
Very interesting – what the witness saw – not a pickpocket at work but an impatient angry man attacking an innocent woman. Fortunately she accepted that the woman was a pick pocket and did not hand me over to the Carabinieri.