I just learnt today how incredibly cool Rome’s Fiumicino airport, where we landed and took up last week during a short visit to the city, looked about 2 millennia ago. The area was already a port, but a sea one, and apparently it was a complete little Venice.
Portus, the settlement depicted on the above painting, which is derived from a 16th c. fresco of Trajan’s Lake (the modern name of what was once the hexagonal harbour) was a man-made harbour built by the emperor Claudius in 46 A.D. and expanded by Trajan a hundred or so years later.
Silt has long since blocked access to the Tyrrhenian Sea – the site is fully 2 miles away from the river now – but on Google Maps view of the lake you can still see the awesome hexagonal lake that used to be the protected inner harbour built by Trajan inside Claudius’ original harbour. The Tiber and its Fiumicino offshoot are pretty much where they used to be. The sea is way west.
via The History Blog