Rome is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world and cruises from Rome are in high demand – and for good reason: in addition to having ancient ruins, delicious cuisine, and awe-inspiring art, Rome is also simply a beautiful city in which to walk around.
Cruise ships that make a port of call in Rome actually pull into port in the city of Civitavecchia, which is located on Italy’s western coast about 50 miles from Rome. Visiting Rome during a Mediterranean cruise itinerary is typically a highlight for cruisers, though narrowing down what to do while in the port of Rome can be a tough decision. (Celebrity Cruises offers a variety of in-depth and cultural shore excursions that will maximize your time in Rome.) A Mediterranean cruise from Rome is also a common embarkation port in Europe and will also depart from the Civitavecchia cruise terminal.
Whether you decide to see the top sights of Rome or venture off the beaten path because you’ve been to Rome before, you’re sure to have a memorable day in port or before you embark on one of the many cruises from Rome.
The Colosseum is considered by many to be Rome’s greatest attraction, and if you haven’t been to Rome before, you’d be remiss not to see it. Even if you find the blood and gore of its gladiator past unsettling, it’s still hard not to be wowed by the grandeur of its construction and the fact that this ancient amphitheater is still standing 2,000 years later. A shore excursion with a guided tour of the Colosseum is an excellent way to see the site as you’ll get to hear detailed stories of its history and the spectacles that were once held in the ring of the vast amphitheater. The Colosseum is also one of the new Seven Wonders of the Modern World.
If the Colosseum impresses you, then the Roman Forum will also excite you with its structures and history. The Roman Forum was the center of religious and public life during the Roman Empire. You can still see a number of the buildings, arches, and temples that were built in the 2nd and 3rd centuries. Walk down the road where past emperors and philosophers strolled and marvel at the city center they created. You can even see the burial place of Rome’s first emperor, Julius Caesar, located within the stately looking Temple of Caesar.
Trevi Fountain is the largest fountain in Rome and is also often considered to be the most beautiful. It gets its name from Tre Vie, which stand for “three ways,” since it was built at the meeting point of three streets. The fountain is constructed in the Baroque style and features Oceanus riding a chariot pulled by two seahorses being led by Tritons.
If you want to increase your chances of visiting Rome again, legend has it that if you throw a coin in the water with your right hand over your left shoulder you’ll return to Rome someday.
Piazza Navona is another place with Baroque flair in Rome. The lovely square has many aspects dating back to the 15th century and is built on the site where the ancient Stadium of Domitian once stood.
Piazza Navona is known for its lively atmosphere that it gets from street performers as well as the many restaurants bordering the square. It makes for a fun place to get a glass of wine, appetizer, or cup of gelato, before continuing on your tour of Rome.
The State of Vatican City is the smallest state in Europe in terms of both population and expanse. It is completely surrounded by the city of Rome on all sides, but has been independent of Italy since 1929 after the signing of Lateran Treaty by Pope Pius XI and Mussolini. Vatican City is ruled by the Pope and serves as the center of authority for the Roman Catholic Church. The Vatican’s best-known sites are St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel.
St. Peter’s Basilica is located in the beautiful St. Peter’s Square and is one of the largest churches in the world. St. Peter’s Basilica can fit 20,000 people inside and is also home to famous works of art. One such piece of art is Michelangelo’s Pieta, which is the only artwork to carry his signature. You also don’t want to miss seeing the statue of St. Peter, the bronze baldachin designed by Bernini, and looking up to take in the majestic splendor of the large dome. You can also go up to the edge of the dome for a view overlooking St.Peter’s Square and the skyline of Rome.
A short walk away from the Trevi Fountain is Piazza di Spagna, a lovely square most famous for its one side that extends up into the Spanish Steps that lead to the Church of Trinità dei Monti. This square is an excellent example of the Italian Baroque style, and the steps are usually full of tourists sitting and soaking up the ambiance – and hopefully some sunshine. Piazza di Spagna and its steps were named after Palazzo di Spagna, which is the seat of the Spanish Embassy for the Vatican that has been located on the square since the 17th century.
The Pantheon is an ancient monument that Michelangelo once defined as the work of angels and not of humans -- and when you consider that the Pantheon was built around 25 BC and is the world’s oldest unreinforced concrete dome, it may not be hard to see why. The name Pantheon comes from the Greek words pan (all) and theon (god) and it is believed the structure was used as a temple devoted to the gods.
This is a popular neighborhood in Rome to wander around and take it in its pretty streets. Located right by the River Tiber, it is home to lively squares, an assortment of shops and artisan boutiques, delicious trattorias, and lively bars.
The catacombs were used as burial grounds for Christian, and pagan citizens from the second century through the fifth century AD. The underground catacombs were created to find more burial space and consist of subterranean passageways, that visitors to Rome can take a tour of in present day.
If you’ve seen all the sights of Rome before, consider using your day in port or time before your cruise from Rome departs to visit Bracciano, which is a picturesque town located atop a hill overlooking Lake Bracciano. It makes for a great day trip to wander around the pretty streets and visit its main tourist attraction, Castello Odescalchi, a formidable castle built in the Renaissance military style.
Rome is famous for its espresso and frothy cappuccinos. To drink like a local, only order a cappuccino at breakfast. Later on in the day order an un caffè (a shot of espresso) or un caffè macchiato (a shot of espresso with a dollop of steamed milk). You can find espresso and cappuccino at pretty much any café and restaurant, though Tazza d’Oro and Caffè Sant’Eustachio are particularly famous; both are located near the Pantheon.
Take an Early Evening Break for Aperitivo
If you’re in port long enough, don’t miss out on enjoying aperitivo, the Italian happy hour. Most bars offer an array of snacks during this time that are included in the cost of your drink. For a traditional Roman aperitif, order an Aperol Spritz or a sweet Fragolino sparkling wine.
Indulge in La Cucina Romana
Cuisine around Italy differs depending what region you’re in. If you want to try traditional Roman dishes, try bucatini all’amatriciana or spaghetti alla carbonara. Roman cuisine is often simple, but delicious, using just a few ingredients that are fresh and prepared using traditional methods.
Eat Gelato at Giolitti
Gelato is famous in Rome, and it’s not hard to find a scoop of it no matter what neighborhood you’re exploring. To experience a traditional gelateria, visit Giolitti, a family-run gelato shop that is located a short distance from the Pantheon. This gelato shop is over 120 years old and has dozens of flavors.
Even as other parts of Italy become more well known, the draw of Rome doesn’t wane. It entices people with its beauty and culture, but mostly for the history you can find around seemingly every corner. Cruises from Rome will give you the opportunity to learn about it.
Rome is Italy’s capital city, but long before then, the land on which Rome lies served many other purposes over the past 2,700 years. As far back as the Ice Age saw settlers on the land of Rome, followed by Etruscans who were soon ousted by the Roman Empire. Then began Rome’s long and famous Roman rule, which saw many of the incredible structures being built that are still marveled at today.
The Christianity mecca in Rome was growing during the rule of the Roman Empire, but it wasn’t until 313 A.D. that Emperor Constantinople gave Christians the protection they needed to flourish and become the center of Christianity that would one day become Vatican City.
Long before that occurred, the Roman Empire fell, Rome lost its power, the papacy of the Catholic Church moved to Avignon, and Rome was mostly in squalor for several centuries.
The 15th century changed all that as the papacy returned to Rome and the dawn of the Renaissance was on the horizon. Rome soon became famous for the arts and the works of Michelangelo and Raphael.
This rich history provides a varied feel to the city as you can see ancient Roman architecture among the ruins of the Colosseum and the Forum, while Baroque and Romanesque fountains and churches are located a short stroll away. In addition, Vatican City is located within the center of Rome and features the beautiful architecture of the Vatican and St. Peter’s Basilica.
Civitavecchia cruise port is located about an hour from Rome. Shore excursions are an easy way to get to the city center of Rome after disembarking your cruise from Rome since it takes the hassle out of it as you don’t need to figure out public transportation.
Shore excursions aren’t the only way to get into the city center, though. Civitavecchia also has a bus and train station that is about a 15-minute walk from the cruise terminal entrance. Depending where your cruise ship docks you can take a shuttle bus to the entrance. From there you can start the walk or wait for a city bus to come by on the route that goes to the train station.
The Civitavecchia cruise port terminal also has information desks and several bars and restaurants.
Rome’s metro system is easy to use since it only has two lines, referred to as line A and B, which cross each other at Rome’s main rail terminal: Termini. Metro stops are located close to most of the major sights, though you may still have a bit of a hike depending on the location since the metro isn’t as extensive as other major cities. The lines run regularly and you can get single journey tickets or day passes.
Just like the metro, the city’s bus system also has two lines that cross at Termini. Buses generally run from 6:00 am to midnight, with some routes running all night. A couple things to note when boarding are that you get on the bus from the rear and you can’t buy tickets on day buses; you must already have one to board, which you can get from the station ticket dispenser. Similar to the metro, the bus will get you close to most of the attractions, but you may still have to walk a bit to get to the entrance, particularly for those located within the historic center of the city since the buses don’t travel down the narrow streets located there.
If you have a Mediterranean cruise from Rome, you’ll likely become acquainted with Rome’s airports. Rome has two international airports: Leonardo da Vinci International Airport, which is also referred to as Fiumicino, and is located 18 miles southwest of Rome; and Ciampino International Airport, which is located nine miles southeast of Rome.
Official taxis in Rome are yellow in color and have a taxi sign atop the roof. Be aware that taxis often charge extra for baggage and you may find increased fare rates on holidays, Sundays, and late at night. If you call for a taxi, the fare may begin from the telephone request, not from the point of origin, so it’s good to double check before reserving.
One more thing to note
Rome is notorious for its transportation strikes so if you are setting off into the city on your own, make sure you have a backup transportation method planned in case your first falls through and give yourself plenty of time to get back to your ship on time. (Shore excursions through Celebrity Cruises offer a guarantee to get you back to the ship in time!) For cruises from Rome, plan on getting to the Civitavecchia cruise port early on embarkation day so you have spare time if anything goes wrong with transportation.
If you find yourself back in Civitavecchia after your time in Rome and need some more souvenirs, you’re in luck. There is plenty of shopping located near the cruise port. Just cross Via Garibaldi, which runs parallel to the sea promenade, and you’ll find several shops to browse through.
Head a little bit farther into town and you’ll come to Corso Centocelle, which has even more stores and is a pleasant area to shop since it is a pedestrian-only zone. If you have lots of time to spare and don’t mind a longer walk or short taxi drive, you can find over two dozen specialty shops at La Scaglia, a shopping center located about a 25 minute walk from the port.
Bargain shoppers can also opt to join a shore excursion that takes cruisers to the nearby Castel Romano premium outlets.
For cruises from Rome, travelers should have euros on hand as that is the accepted currency in Italy. Most places in Rome take credit cards, though cash is often preferred. If visiting a street market or small mom-and-pop style restaurant, it’s especially important to double check if a card is accepted if you’re not planning on paying with cash.
To exchange cash for Euros, look for cash exchange offices. You may end up wasting time if you try a bank first since banks in Italy don’t keep every foreign currency on hand. When visiting Italy, it’s usually wise to exchange funds before leaving home or plan to take it out at an ATM, in which case you’ll probably want to check what your bank charges to do so. An ATM is called a bancomat in Rome.
Tipping in Italy often isn’t necessary. A service charge is usually already included in the bill, so double check if that’s the case; feel free to tip more for stellar service, though know it’s not expected. It’s also recommended to tip in cash as opposed to on a credit card if you want to make sure it’s the server who gets the tip.