Casone rinascimentale del Sale (Renaissance salt storehouse)

In Ostia Antica village, near the ruins of the Tiber banks, and along via delle Saline, via Ducati, via Gamurrini, and via Morcelli, some structures identified as “horrea” (Lat. for warehouses) were discovered. Their purpose was for the storage of goods coming from the harbour’s docks and also as salt deposits. These buildings – and especially those adjacent to the area of the ancient salt pan – were used from ancient times to the Middle Ages, and throughout the Renaissance, showing an extraordinary continuity of use over time.

The Casalone in via Morcelli is part of this horrea and its façade bears signs of ancient and modern renovations.

On the east façade Pope Gregory XIII’s coat of arms (1572-1585) can be seen, even though the date of its placement is unknown.

In the interior, both on the ground floor and in the courtyard and in the basement, there are some traces of ancient masonry, probable remains of Roman-imperial age warehouses incorporated in the Renaissance into a large building for storing salt (precisely the “Casone” or “Casalone”).

Rectangular in plan, it was divided into two naves by large brick pillars, on which a wooden ceiling rested. It is a typical typology for this type of warehouses, which can also be found in the seventeeth-century Casone del sale di Cervia.

After the flood of 1557 and the consequent deviation of the Tiber to the west, the harbour and the warehouses were relocated to the new course of the river. The functions of the Casalone were then taken up by the new Capannone di Tor de Specchi, again built on ancient remains. Commissioned and built by Pope Pius V (1566-1572) it was later turned into a museum by Pope Pius IX (1846-1870). Today it still hosts the Museum of Ostia Antica and the office of Director of the Archaeological Park, in the center of the Park.