Fulvio Risuleo and Antonio Pronostico
Archaeological site of Ostia Antica

Passatempo is a comic-strip story Fulvio Risuleo and Antonio Pronostico have set in the Ostia Antica Archeological Park.

It’s a lovely, sunny day, perfect for visiting the excavations at Ostia Antica. There’s so much to see, only… up in the sky, two young little clouds are feeling a little bored, so they decide to set off a summer storm to remember. What a sight! It rains cats and dogs, they even hurl a thunderbolt onto a column at the Forum Spa. It looks like Zeus’s own revenge… Until Mamma Cloud comes along and sorts things out. The sun returns, and the little clouds get their ears tweaked. But it was worth it: it was such great fun!

Archaeological site of Ostia Antica

Ostia was the most important port of the Roman Empire, the place where goods arrived from all over the known world. The remains of this large commercial city, the population of which reached 50,000, include huge warehouses for goods, temples dedicated to a host of different divinities, luxurious mansions of the rich decorated with marble and wall paintings, and multi-storey insulae, similar to modern apartment blocks. In short, a vast archaeological site offering visitors glimpses of the everyday life of an ancient city, the gigantic outlet of nearby Rome.

A Skyful of an Idea
On the first day of our visit, we had to stop because a heavy spring storm prevented us from going on. Although it delayed the start of our walk, it did give us the idea that our story was coming down - liter-ally - from the sky. Wandering the streets at the Ostia Antica Archeological Park zings your imagina-tion off on flights of fancy. You are catapulted three-dimensionally into Ancient Rome. It’s such fun to get lost in your thoughts, to try and imagine how our ancestors used to live. The idea of telling the story of this park from a cloud’s point of view made us think about an interesting visual issue: whether or not it’s true the city has changed that much with the passing millennia... After all, the sky and its clouds are still here, still the same, unchanging over time.
Fulvio Risuleo and Antonio Pronostico
Risuleo is a director and comic-strip artist who was born in Rome in 1991. He has made two short films (Lievito Madre and Varicella), which were shown at the Cannes Film Festival, and two feature films, Guarda in Alto and Il colpo del cane. He has published comic books Pixel (Ultra Edizioni) and L’Idra indecisa (001 Edizioni). Pronostico is an illustrator and comic-strip artist who was born in 1987 in the Tricaro hills, near Matera. He is a co-founder of the self-published Collettivomensa magazine. His work has appeared in Frigidaire, Il Nuovo Male, Il Male di Vauro e Vincino, Left, L’Espresso and Jacobine Italia. In 2019, the two authors worked together on a comic book entitled Sniff (Coconino Press - Fandango).
The Theatre
Seating up to 4,000 spectators, the theatre offered various kinds of entertainment, especially plays and mime. Moreover, it was decided at the end of the Roman era to enlarge the lower section of the building so as to host aquatic events similar to today's synchronized swimming competitions. The theatre still presents a summer programme with actors, musicians and dancers today just as it did two thousand years ago.
The city's most important temple stood in the rectangular forum in the centre of Ostia. The structure of brick was covered with slabs of marble, which have all been stolen over the centuries. A large staircase on the façade provides access to the cella or inner chamber, which held the statues of Jupiter, Juno and Minerva, the most important gods of the Roman religion.
Piazzale delle Corporazioni
A constant bustle of merchants, ship owners and simple passers-by is what we would have seen in ancient Roman times in the square of guilds, where traders had their offices and meetings were held to negotiate deals. Every room looking onto the portico had a black and white mosaic indicating the merchant's place of origin, for example Sardinia or Africa, and the inscriptions were embellished with images of ships, beacons and sea creatures.
The Baths of Neptune
The baths of the Roman world were not only for personal hygiene but also for socializing, taking physical exercise, reading books and doing important business. These authentic wellness centres were used by all the citizens. The Baths of Neptune, one of the town's largest establishments, takes its name from a large black and white mosaic of the god in triumph on a chariot drawn by four Tritons and surrounded by other sea creatures.