Standing in the Colosseum, visiting Vatican City and tossing a coin in the Trevi Fountain are all unique experiences of a lifetime to be had in the Eternal City of Rome, reached from your Italian cruise port Civitavecchia.
Rome’s breath-taking monuments, palaces, churches and classical features are quite unlike anything you will find in any other European city. They will always leave you wanting to come back for more – hence the coin-tossing, which is said to guarantee your return.
The city’s other must-sees include the Spanish Steps, the Pantheon (probably the most complete ancient Roman building in the city) and the Sistine Chapel, home to Michelangelo’s masterpieces.
While steeped in history, Rome is also a modern, bustling city with designer shops and chic boutiques at every turn. Reasonably priced department stores selling all the latest fashions can be found in the many pedestrianised shopping streets, while restaurants and cafés spill out onto piazzas offering authentic Italian dishes and sensational ice cream.
First trick, all the trips start early, so order breakfast to be delivered to your room for the Rome day, 6:30 – 7 am, it is only a continental breakfast, but enough. That gives you time to get ready at your pace,
Go prepared. Rome is great! So old and so much ancient remains. It is a big city and very hot in the summer, so dress cool, with a hat etc and make sure you take lots of water with you.
If lunch is not included then beware the cafes/restaurants in the main areas are very expensive, try one of the side streets, there are lovely little restaurants just off the Piazza Navona where a small lunch consisting of brochette with fresh tomato and basil, Margarita Pizza with a side salad and a small bottle of water, at €12 each, by contrast, an ice cream outside the coliseum costs €6+
If you are the DIY person then the train station in Civitavecchia is just outside the port on the right about a 10 minute walk. There’s a tourist information kiosk at the port entrance where the port shuttle drops you and they speak good English. The cost is €4.60 each way per adult from/to any station in Rome except Termini (5 € just for this station), Toddlers go free. There is a day pass available in the station, called the BIRG ticket costing €12, which covers travel to and from Rome, and also gives you unlimited use of buses, metro, and trams (streetcars) for the entire day in Rome. You need to validate your ticket by date-stamping it in the little yellow machine on the wall before you get on the train. The journey to Rome takes just over an hour. There are two or three direct local trains each hour between Civitavecchia and Rome. Keep in mind that these are commuter trains, so in the rush hours they can be very crowded.
There are 2 train stops in Rome. First one is the Vatican (Recommended) and the second (Termini) is the centre of the city, it is about an hour to the first stop and 1h30 to Stazione Termini, second stop. You can reach all the points of interest on foot, it is an easy walk from the Vatican over the Tiber to the Pantheon, Piazza Navona, Trevi, Spanish steps, Forum, Colosseum and anything else that takes your fancy. . Or just jump on an open top bus.
On your return journey if you leave Rome at about 3.30pm you will make it back to the ship with loads of time to spare. Trains to Civitavecchia usually leave from a platform (Binario) on the right which has a separate side entrance otherwise it is several minutes’ walk inside the station from the main entrance. Remember, if late the ship will not wait.
If you decide to visit Rome either as a DIY or on the Rome On Your Own tour, then go with a specific site/route to see, Vatican, Trevi Fountain, Coliseum, whatever you choose decide before you go. Rome is big and the sites are quite well spread out. It is impossible to see Rome in a day.
Now a word of warning, watch your purse especially around the Trevi Fountain, tradition has it that you will return to Rome if you throw coins in, of course THEY are watching where you store your purse to get your money out, jostle you and yep it’s gone.
If on an excursion then the journey takes about 1 ½ hrs by coach with a comfort stop on route, if you have forgotten to bring water the price is €2.30 here. (2010 prices) On the coach you will be given maps of Rome.
Watch out for the so called gladiators wandering about, they ask if you want a photo with them and charge you far too much, normally in excess of €10.
If you do decide on a tour then it is worth knowing that all tours are at a brisk pace.
Some Cruise Line Tours That Cruise Members Have Taken:
‘Glories of the Gladiators’ Coliseum, Roman Forum, Piazza Navona. This tour is at a brisk pace. Entrance fee to Coliseum and Roman Forum is included. On reaching the Piazza Navona you have free time to do our own thing until 3:45pm. From here, both the Pantheon and Trevi Fountain are a short walk down some side streets. St Peters is a good walk, about 20 min. £50pp (2010)
‘Introduction to Rome’ A guided full day tour of the city with a “light lunch” included. And takes you to all the major sites inside the Vatican, Coliseum, Spanish Steps. Completed at a brisk pace.
‘Rome on your own’ DIY. You are dropped off at the top of the Via de Coursa at the Piazza de Popolo. Vatican car park. You then make your own way to all the sites. £45pp (2016)
The ‘Essence of Rome’ guided full day tour of the city with a “light lunch” included. And takes you to all the major sites inside the Vatican, Coliseum, Spanish Steps. It’s a long day but you get to see so much. We had a bit of free time but not much, maybe half an hour or so.
‘Roam around Rome’ This one involves quite a bit of walking. You start off near the Spanish steps then walked around for quite a bit, ending up at the Piazza Navona where we had about 1.5 to 2 hours free time for lunch etc. The tour ended at St Peters where we picked up the coach back to the ship.
‘3 of the best’ It takes you to the Coliseum, a lovely large park at the top where you could walk easily to the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain, and then to St Peter’s. At each area you are left to our own devices basically with 1 hour at the Coliseum and St Peter’s and 2 hours at the Park area which was more than enough time to see the Steps, the Fountain and have lunch.
If you want something different then try the ‘Taste of Tuscany’ trip, it is a very pleasant tour, lovely village visit and the local lunch with wine at the olive farm is absolutely lovely. Cruisers have said ‘one of the best ship’s tours that we have done in many years.’
By Peter Dagnall
See our holiday photos click here.