Rome is a special city and more often than not would feature on the majority of cruise passengers bucket lists if they’ve never visited this magnificent destination before. There is just so much to see and do here that the choices are endless no matter how you wish to spend your day. There really is something for everyone in Rome, which is what makes the port of call so exciting. The city itself is wonderful to just take a walk around, soaking up the atmosphere and marvelling at the incredible architecture. There is an aura about Rome that in truth is unexplainable and extremely difficult to define, you will feel it from the moment you arrive, almost a feeling of utter privilege to be experiencing all that the city possesses.
Your adventure into Rome will begin at the port of Civitavecchia and transfers from here into the city centre of Rome take approximately 60-90 minutes depending on traffic. The choice of excursions here, no matter what cruise line you are sailing with is always exceptional. Excursions are extremely well organised from the moment you arrive. Civitavecchia acts as an ideal gateway to this magical city. Upon arrival to the city, each cruise line has their own way of doing things but many opt for the same location for their meeting point. The location the majority of cruise lines like to use is the Piazza Del Popolo. This location is often used as the meeting point for both commencing and finishing the day as it is in close proximity to your transport. Piazza Del Popolo is a stunning setting in its own right, the name itself translates into the “people’s square”. Not only is this a convenient location for a meeting point but it is also a great opening scene to begin exploring the city. Piazza Del Popolo sets the perfect tone for the day to begin. P&O Cruises are just one example of a cruise line that use this area as a key meeting point along with Cunard Line.
Steeped in history, Rome is an unforgettable city, but the city also possesses a modern, bustling city centre vibe with designer shops and chic boutique stores with some of the world’s leading designers lining the streets. If you’re looking for extravagant retail therapy, this is the place! Rome is also fantastic for its many restaurants and cafes offering traditional and contemporary takes on authentic Italian dishes, not forgetting great selection of ice cream, ideal for cooling down in the sunshine. Aside from the main sightseeing opportunities, there is plenty to explore throughout the city but in this article we’ll focus on the top 5 things to do when visiting this spectacular city for the first time.
Explore The Colloseum
The Colosseum is a once in a lifetime experience and a must see when visiting this city. There are many wonderful ecclesiastical sightseeing opportunities here but if this is not for you, then perhaps re-trace the footsteps of the gladiators and marvel at this captivating creation. You’ll see the many rows of marble seats that once accommodated as many as 55,000 spectators inside the audacious amphitheatre. You’ll also see the subterranean passageways of the Colosseum where competitors where held in chambers till they were called to action along with many animals and the 76 different entrance points for spectators to take their seats. A tour of the Colosseum is a brilliant way to discover more about this world renowned attraction but if you do wish to do your own thing and are exploring the city independently, make sure you leave enough time as queues to get into the Colosseum can often be long and time consuming, especially during peak travel periods.
With some cruise lines, you can even enjoy an excursion opportunity to take part in a Gladiator day, where you will be trained in the art of Gladiator combat.
Visit Vatican City
Next on the list of must see sights is Vatican City. The experience of St Peter’s Square alone is a momentous occasion for any cruise passenger visiting this city. The vibrant nature of the square and its enchanting atmosphere never fail to send a shiver down your spine. St Peter’s Basilica required more than 100 years to finish and boasts both Baroque and Renaissance architectural styles. The Basilica rests on more than 800 pillars and is adorned with a total of 44 altars. This is by a great margin the largest and most dramatic church in the world. By opting for an excursion with your cruise line, most Vatican tours will include privileged access, meaning a queue jump that will save you a lot of time.
See The Trevi Fountain
Leading up to the fountains location you can feel the atmosphere building, especially during peak tourist periods. Capture the magic of the city’s grandest fountain and follow the tradition of tossing a coin into the water, which as legend has it, will ensure you will once again return to Rome in the future. Make a wish to capture the moment. The Trevi Fountain is one of the most romantic locations Rome possesses. The entire city has a unique romantic essence but this location is one of the best. It’s not uncommon to see someone getting down on one knee here.
The fountain is the largest and most famous Baroque creation in the city. Measuring approximately 26 metres in height and 20 metres in width, the fountain is an incredible sight to behold. The history of the Trevi Fountain is also intriguing. The fountain we all know and see today was designed by Nicola Salvi in 1732 but took until 1762 to reach its completion. Originally however, Pope Urban VIII entrusted Bernini with the task of creating designs for renovation works of the fountain to take place. It is believed that Pope Urban III found the fountain insufficiently theatrical in its current state at the time. Unfortunately, the death of the Pope prompted plans for the renovation works designed by Bernini to be abandoned but Bernini did make one final, lasting contribution. The fountain was re-situated from one side of the square to the other, facing the Quirinal Palace. It is understood that the reasoning behind the change in position was so that the late Pope could see the fountain and enjoy it even after his death.
You will notice three central figures on the fountain. The most prominent of the three is Neptune (God of the Sea) who is situated between two other figures. The other figures show two Tritons, one struggling to master a disobedient sea horse and the other controlling a far more tame and submissive animal. These figures were designed to emphasise the two contrasting moods of the sea.
Walk The Spanish Steps
The Spanish Steps are a highly popular attraction when visiting Rome. The steps are one of the most sought after locations for photographers. The monumental Spanish Steps took three years to build, finally reaching completion in 1726. The steps were designed by Francesco de Sanctis. The graceful elegance of the steps never ceases to amaze. Known as Piazza di Spagna, the steps boast the site of Rome’s most charming and beautiful stairway. The Roman Baroque style aids in the emphasis of the unique butterfly design but it is not just the steps themselves that make this location so special. It is the purpose of the steps and history of their creation that also embodies a fascinating history. At the foot of the steps you will find the XVIII masterpiece square renowned for its irregular shape. At the top of Pincio hill you will find Trinita dei Monti, a French Church completed in 1502. The Spanish steps connect the two city features making for a wonderful experience and many outstanding photo opportunities. The square at the foot of the steps is home to the Barcaccia Fountain commemorating the flood caused by the Tevere River in 1598. The flood was disastrous at the time to the city and the fountain was created by order of Pope Urbano VIII.
The Piazza di Spagna is also a famous site for its relationship to the world of fashion. Once a year the Spanish steps play host to a world renowned Rome fashion show. The steps themselves are used as the centre piece of the show and provide the catwalk for models to showcase each designer’s creations. This event takes place in the summer under the glistening sunshine of the Mediterranean. There is no wonder the Spanish steps are used as such a focal point for the yearly fashion show considering that many of Rome’s most glamorous streets lead to Piazza di Spagna. The area surrounding the steps plays host to many prestigious boutiques including the likes of Prada, Gucci and Valentino. If you’re into fashion, this is a must see location.
Experience The Pantheon
The Pantheon is an incredible sight to see. The Roman Pantheon is the most preserved monument in the Eternal City and perhaps the most influential building of ancient Rome. It’s cylindrical design with 16 towering columns exudes grace and the fact that this stunning creation was built more than 1800 years ago is truly astonishing. The Pantheon is a temple that has the purpose of dedication to the gods of pagan Rome. You will notice on the side of the building there are brick stamps that reveal the creation and dedication date to be between A.D 118 and 125.
As you walk up to the front of the Pantheon you will see an inscription that reads: M. Agrippa.L.F.Costertium.Fecit” This is a Latin inscription that translates to “Marcus Agrippa son of Lucius, having been consul three times made it”. It was the emperor Hadrian that had the Pantheon built. This was to replace Marcus Agrippa’s Pantheon of 27 B.C. which suffered the fate of burning to the ground in 80 A.D. It is a fact that Hadrian ordered the creation of many fascinating buildings during his reign but never inscribed his own name into any of them apart from the temple of his father. It is for this reason that the inscription of Marcus Agrippa still remains today.
The Pantheon has always been in use from the moment of its completion and was classified as a temple. The structural design of the Pantheon however is vastly different to many other traditional Roman temples.
The Pantheon is a magnificent reminder of the great Roman Empire. Its large marble columns are impressive but the real sight to behold is the high dome. The dome is over 43 metres in height and was once the largest dome throughout the world until the construction of the Florence Cathedral took over the title in 1436.
Enjoy The Day!
As mentioned before, excursions here are always amazing, there is just so much choice but they are also extremely popular. Most cruise lines now offer the ability to pre-book excursions online and if not then certainly over the phone. Some passengers do this, some don’t, the decision is yours but if there is something specific you really have your heart set on doing then our advice would always be to book it and avoid disappointment.
Another common question about Rome is “can I go ashore independently?” The answer is a resounding yes. You definitely can. Nobody will force you to book an excursion here, the options are there but they are exactly that; options. If you wish to explore independently then do so. If you are intending on doing this however, we often recommend looking at what’s often known as a ‘Rome on your own” option. This is not a full excursion but just offers transfers to and from the city centre with dedicated meeting points for the start and finish of the day. You can head into Rome from Civitavecchia via taxi or public transport such as the train but this can be expensive and Italian public transport is not always the most reliable way of getting around. Therefore the cruise lines transfer option can often be a reassuring way of doing this.
However you choose to spend your time in Rome, you are certain to love this wonderful port of call. The Eternal City awaits you, be sure to take in the attractions we have recommended and experience the magic of this Italian gem on board a Mediterranean cruise.
For more information on Rome and to see example of cruises visiting this port of call – click here.