Ristorante Orazio, an Oasis Among the Ruins of Rome

Porta Latina
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The delicate white arch of the Porta Latina cut into the ancient Aurelian Wall, resembling the entrance to a sepulcher. All appeared shady and quiet within, contrasting sharply with the sounds and activities of modern life. Late morning sunlight played on the treetops, warming the earth and casting shade over the road ahead. I stepped forward and passed under the archway to begin my walk down the Via Latina. I discovered the world from another time, far different from the one I knew.

The long narrow road was lined with large shade trees. No sidewalks existed. The only sounds were the flutter and chirp of birds in the trees and an occasional car passing by. Known as the “archaeological walk,” the Via Latina was a popular place for villas and funerary monuments in early Rome. Its beginnings go back to the 8th century BC. It served as a trading route between Rome and the ports of Brindisi on the Adriatic and Pozzuoli on the Tyrrhenian Sea.

My stroll took me past the 5th century Church of S. Giovanni and the Tomb of the Scipios. Toward the end of the road, it touched the Via Sebastiano, which is actually a section of the Via Appia, renamed because of the S. Sebastiano catacombs.

As I came almost to the end of Via Latina, I noticed a stunning villa set up from the road. It looked stately and inviting. Over the entry threshold were the words, Ristorante Orazio. I had found one of Rome’s oldest restaurants.

Standing on Via Latina in front of Ristorante Orazio
Ristorante Orazio on Via Latina 

I was hungry and eager to explore, so I stepped up through the threshold and onto the graveled garden area. I admired the neatly trimmed shrubs and clay pots of flowers and palms. My steps made a soft crunch across the gravel as I made my way toward the restaurant entrance.

Pleasant gardens outside the Ristorante Orazio

The waiter had not discovered me yet as I approached him. I was soon warmly greeted and taken to a seat on the covered terrace.

As I looked the menu over, I noticed a plate of appetizers that had just arrived at the neighboring table. Cured meats, cheeses, tomatoes, bruschetta, fresh figs, and a carafe of great looking wine.

My waiter returned with a bottle of Frascati Cantina Villafranca 2013 DOC. As he poured a glass for me, I noticed the pale yellow wine shimmer and pick up prisms of color from my surroundings. Smooth and refreshing, it was the perfect summer wine

When I first arrived, I was the only one on the patio. After fifteen minutes, a rush of diners began to fill the empty tables. The tablecloths were neat and crisp, with vases of fresh cut flowers.


I ordered a seafood salad and fresh Sea Bass. It was a hard decision. I almost chose the Veal Scallopini Limone, but the Sea Bass won. I was not disappointed. The salad was a tasty cool mixture of clams, muscles, fish and octopus with a touch of lemon. The sea bass soon arrived at my table in one whole fish. I watched as my waiter expertly discarded the head and bones, laying it open and dousing it with a good amount of extra virgin olive oil.

My fresh Sea Bass arrives
The fresh Sea Bass arrived and my attentive waiter did a superb job of fixing my dish.
Sea Bass cooked to perfection

Tender, flaky and flavorful, I consumed the entire fish. The liberal splash of olive oil was the perfect touch, enhancing the fragrance and texture.

Sunday lunch is when the locals fill the restaurant. Three to four generation families come to enjoy a long and leisurely meal together. Groups of sharply dressed elderly ladies and priests with relatives are a common sight as well. Authentic Roman cuisine and professional service are what brings them to Ristorante Orazio. The waiters are from the old school, exhibiting sharp manners and a keen focus.


Only a 15 to 20-minute walk from the Colosseum, the Ristorante Orazio is a great place to relax and escape the pace of the city center for a time. The large green expanse of lawn and gardens surrounding the restaurant is cool and refreshing. From the antipasti all the way to the digestive, it is a place to take your time and enjoy the quality and elegance of old Rome.


Soaring Views from the Temple of Jupiter

Terracina and the Tyrhenean Sea from the Temple of Jupiter Anxur
Terracina and the Tyrrhenian Sea from the Temple of Jupiter Anxur

We stood transfixed at the majestic panoramic view of Terracina below and further points unknown from the Temple of Jupiter Anxur on Mount St. Angelo. I had previously gazed up at the temple from below and noticed the large terraced platform with a long row of support arches running underneath. It was then that my thoughts recalled a Bible verse I once read about putting your light on a hill for all to see. This was certainly a place to display ones most highly prized possession. Its beauty and importance could be seen by everyone for miles around.

Temple of Jupiter Anxur (photo credit Creative Commons)

Terracina is located 47 miles southeast of Rome on the Tyrrhenian coastline. My blog tour group, This Is Your Time, had just arrived at the Temple of Jupiter Anxur with Danilo Mastracco from Slow Food Terracina, and Laura Marano from Terracina Live, the local newspaper. We entered through the ticket office which is run by the organization Munus. This association also manages the Tempio di Giove by working to support the communications and promotional aspect of the site.

We enjoyed frothy cappuccino outside the Piano Bar Tempio di Giove while conversing with Professor Vencenslao (Lavio) Grossi about the history of the Temple of Jupiter Anxur while taking in the views.

This Is Your Time travel blog team with Slow Food Terraccina
This Is Your Time travel blog team with Slow Food Terraccina ~ Laura Marano, Helena Norrman, Claudia Moreschi, Avary Sassaman, Amy Gulick, Federico Michieletto, Linnea Malmberg,Daniela Nasteska Olsson, Nando Campi and Danilo Mastracco.
Piano Bar Tempio di Giove (Temple of Jupiter)
Piano Bar Tempio di Giove (Temple of Jupiter)

Inside the Piano Bar Tempio di Giove are guidebooks for sale as well as a selection of drinks.


After coffee, we passed through the Piano Bar to the back room where we saw a large model of the Temple of Jupiter Anxur. The Roman Sanctuary, a large complex of several buildings, dates back to the 4th century B.C., although most of the development is believed to have happened over a period of time up to the 1st century. The spectacular position of the large temple mounted high on the terrace, accessed by twelve steps, would have dominated the skyline . Although now merely foundations, a vaulted gallery and a cryptoportico, it is still commanding.

The Temple of Jupiter Anxur is mentioned by Livy, Virgil and Servius. Livy records lightning striking the temple twice. A passage in Virgil’s writings indicate that the worship of Jupiter Anxur extended to neighboring towns and that the Temple complex was highly visible all around. Servius wrote that the infant Jupiter was worshipped under the title of Anxur.

Model of the Temple of Jupiter Anxur
Model of the Temple of Jupiter Anxur as seen inside the Piano Bar Tempio di Giove

In the photo above, you can see the arcades and vaults of the substructure that supported the large terrace above where the Temple of Jupiter Anxur stood. The vaulting at the base of the temple area are the most impressive remains of the complex. Below is how they look today.

During the first century it was also used for military purposes. At the decline of the Roman empire in the 5th century, the site caught fire and burned. Afterward, a Benedictine monastery was built in its place. It was later abandoned in the 16th century.


The arches of the subterranean support system are regarded as one of the best examples of “opus incertum,” which was a Roman construction technique using concrete. As I walked through them, I was very impressed by the strength and precision of the structure. The Roman complex was built to last.

Twelve arches give the impression of a single corridor. The figure at the end below increases the effect of one single line of arches. The construction of the rock and brick walls was fascinating. It all fit tightly together like a puzzle.

Arcades and vault of the substructure that supported the terrace and the temple
Arcades and vault of the substructure that supported the terrace and the temple

A large covered gallery behind the portico is believed to have been used for processions.

The vaulted gallery underneath the temple
The covered portico underneath the temple

In the past, a cave connected with the oracle’s rock podium, which had a hole that winds passed through and made eerie sounds. Because of this, the cave was chosen as a holy site associated with the god Jupiter’s voice.

A priest stood in the cave and gave answers to the questions of the devoted by deciphering the voice of Jupiter.

Cave of the Oracle
Cave of the Oracle with our tour guide Professor Vencenslao (Lavio) Grossi

Professor Vencenslao (Lavio) Grossi was a wealth of information concerning the historical facts and timeline of the Temple. He is a researcher, author of numerous scientific papers on archaeological Terracina, and a very engaging speaker during his guided tours. He is associated with the Archeoclub of Terracina.

The word Anxur is a Volscian name for Jupiter as a youth. The Volsci were an early Italic tribe that lived in the hills and marshes of the area. Although they fought against the Romans, they eventually succumbed to domination.

Mount St. Angelo, at 227 m high, stood directly in the way of Rome’s most important road. The Via Appia, built in 312 BC as a major road between Rome and Capua, ran up the steep slope of the mountain. It was Trajan who had the rock face cut below the complex along the coast to enable travel at sea level. The completed bypass was not finished until the early 2nd century AD.

The Port of Terracina 

The area of the complex is grassy and inviting for an outdoor lunch. There is no charge to enter from the generous sized parking lot. A small bar (cafe pictured above) sits inside the walls on the sun-splashed terrace with outdoor dining tables where you can also purchase a guidebook. Cats lounge about soaking up the warmth of the stonework.

For those more energetic, walk up to the temple complex from Piazza del Municipio in Terracina and soak in the flower strewn olive groves along the way.