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Rome, one of the oldest named cities in the world, dazzles the eyes at every turn with glorious architecture and lively piazzas adorned with elaborate fountains and sculpture. Innumerable sidewalk cafes serve as places to perch while art- or people-watching. Truly the Eternal City, it’s a blend of ancient empire, Renaissance treasures and up-to-the-minute fashion and energy.
Civitavecchia, also referred to as “Port of Rome,” is about 45 miles (70 kilometers) northwest of the city. Civitavecchia (pronounced shi-va-sha-VECK-i-a) is a major ferry and cruise port, connecting central Italy to the other destinations in the Mediterranean, including Barcelona, Sardinia and Malta.
Millions of visitors make the pilgrimage each year to visit Vatican City and St. Peter’s Basilica, where you’ll find such masterpieces as Michelangelo’s Pieta and Bernini’s papal altar. The Sistine Chapel is just one of many marvels showcased within the Vatican Museums complex.
Many of Rome’s ancient wonders are clustered within walking distance of each other. The Colosseum, where gladiators once thrilled spectators, is across the street from the Roman Forum, whose ancient streets and ruins recall the days of Caesar. Built as temple to honor the pagan gods and later consecrated as a Catholic church, the Pantheon is one of the best preserved examples of ancient architecture in the world.
Ostia Antica, about 45 minutes outside of the city, holds the ruins of an ancient port city dating to the 4th century B.C.
Galleria Borghese, Rome’s premier art museum, displays masterpieces by Titian, Bernini, Raphael and Caravaggio in a splendid setting of frescoed ceilings and marble walls.
Trevi Fountain played a central role in "La Dolce Vita," "Three Coins in the Fountain" and other movies. Legend holds that if you toss a coin in the waters, you’ll come back to Rome. The largest and most beautiful Baroque fountain in town was completed in 1762.
Beautifully crafted leather goods, including handbags, shoes and jackets, are among top merchandise to search for in Rome. The city’s smartest shops are clustered along the Via Veneto and Via Condotti. Smaller boutiques and art galleries abound in Trasteverre, a hip neighborhood across the Tiber River. Morning flea markets beckon at Campo dei Fiori, a lively plaza lined with sidewalk cafes.
Piazza Navona: This lively square lined with wrought-iron balconies and filled with street artists is a delightful spot to linger at a sidewalk café and admire Bernini’s spectacular Fountain of the Four Rivers.
Countryside & Catacombs: These tours take participants beneath the streets of Rome through a maze of tunnels where early Christians worshipped in secret. The tours also head along the Appian Way, where you can enjoy villages and wineries outside the city.
It’s a Roman ritual to enjoy a coffee, glass of wine or heavenly dish of pasta at a sidewalk cafe. The most classic of them all is Antico Caffe Greco on the chic Via dei Condotti. Another landmark is Tre Scalini, which serves savory pizzas and pasta dishes on Piazza Navona.
Spring and fall are the best seasons to visit, with plenty of mild, sunny days. Summers are hot and the visitor attractions are at their most crowded. Winters are fairly mild but with rainy spells.
Cruise ships dock in Civitavecchia, an hour and a half taxi or bus ride from Rome. Most cruise lines offer a motorcoach transfer option. Free shuttle buses bring guests from the ship to the exit of the port and vice versa. Taxi service into Rome cost about $150 each way, so beware! There is also frequent train service from Civitavecchia into Rome.
The RCT (Roma Cruise Terminal) shuttle from the ship to the port exit is free and leaves every five minutes in the morning and evening; look for the stop directly in front of the ship. Walking distance to the train station is 500 meters (a quarter of a mile). Train tickets cost 2.5 euros (about $3.15) per adult one direction. Kids age nine and younger under don’t need a ticket. Tickets can be purchased at the train station with an English-speaking agent or at a machine; the machine takes major credit cards. The destination is “Roma termini” (regular train takes an hour to an hour and 45 minutes; that’s the final destination of the train) or “San Pieto” (which takes about an hour). Trains depart about every 20 minutes. No change of trains is necessary. Ticket needs to be stamped before the start of the journey in a yellow machine of the size of a shoebox. The sequence of stations is: Chivitaveccia, Roma Aurelia, Roma San Pietro (exit possibility), Roma Trastvere, Roma Ostiense, Roma Tuscolana, Roma Termini.
Many of the major historic attractions and shopping areas in central Rome are within walking distance of each other. The city offers an efficient bus system as well as the Metro, a subway system. The train system, alas, has poor signage — in Italian.
Trains leave from tracks 25 to 29, five to seven minutes walking distance from the entry to the main station. Civitavecchia is the final destination for this train.
Public free Wi-Fi is available in the Civitavecchia downtown area. In Rome, few cafes have wi-fi, but two that do are Chiostro del Bramante, Via Arco della Pace 5, and Circus, Via della Vetrina 5. Most guests in Rome have Wi-Fi in their hotels.
Documents: U.S. and Canadian citizens will need a valid passport.
Language: Italian is the official language, but many people speak at least some English.
Store hours: Opening times differ a lot around Italy, but are generally from Monday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and again from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Shops are closed on Sundays.
Tipping: As in most of Europe, tipping isn’t expected in Italy. A service charge is sometimes added to the bill.
Currency: The euro
Safety: Civitaveccia is not a dangerous city. Take the usual caution. Rome is famous for its pickpockets and purse snatchers. Carry with you only what you need for the day, leaving the rest on the ship. It is recommended to keep money and credit cards concealed beneath your clothing. See our safety tips for cruise travelers.
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“Connecting the ritzy shops at the bottom with the ritzy hotels at the top, this (the Spanish Steps) is one of Rome’s liveliest spots, with tourists and locals congregating on the steps and around the fountain at their base. The steps face west, so sunsets offer great photo ops.”
“The lines to get into the Colosseum and especially the Vatican and Sistine Chapel can be hours long. Luckily, we were able to bypass everyone waiting in line and walk in right away. It will cost you a few extra euros, but buying a ticket online and printing it out before your trip can save you hours of vacation time. ”
“Guides of varying quality linger outside the Colosseum, offering tours that allow you to skip the line.”
“Lined with 16th- and 17th-century noble palaces and divided by an ivy-covered arch designed by Michelangelo, Via Giulia passes through the ancient districts of Ponte and Regola. It is tranquil, beautiful, and seriously posh."
“Choose a couple of major sites and give yourself permission to enjoy some lesser-known monuments as well. Case Romane del Celio, for example, is just a couple of minutes' walk from the Colosseum.”