What to See and Do
- In the Vatican City, St. Peter's Basilica (Piazza San Pietro, daily, 7 a.m. - 7 p.m.), the earthly locus of the Roman Catholic Church, and the extensive Vatican Museums (where you'll find the Sistine Chapel) are grouped together just across the Tiber River from central Rome. In recent years visitors to St. Peter's have had to clear a security line, which can be found to the right of the main entrance. Expect to wait in line for hours if you want to visit the Vatican Museums on your own (one advantage to booking a cruise line tour is you might not have to wait quite that long). Be aware that tank tops and shorts are not acceptable attire within St. Peter's.
- The Colosseum (Piazza del Colosseo, Tuesday - Sunday, 9 a.m. - 7:1205 p.m.) is a shell of an ancient stadium -- first inaugurated in 80 A.D. -- where gladiators engaged in bloodbaths. The Pantheon (Piazza della Rotunda, Monday - Saturday 8:30 a.m. - 7:30 p.m., Sunday 9 a.m. - 6 p.m.) dates back to 27 B.C. and is considered the ancient world's most complete monument. Even better, the Pantheon is more than a museum; it still holds concerts and other special events.
- Near the Colosseum, we always drop our jaws at the sight of the Vittorio Emanuele Monument (Piazza Venezia), an extravagant white marble monument (its nickname is "the wedding cake") with giant horse sculptures, constructed in the 1800's to honor Italy's first king. You can't go inside, but it's a great photo opp.
- The Trevi Fountain (Piazza Trevi, 24 hours), was made famous by the classic flick "Three Coins in a Fountain"; legend has it if you want to come back to Rome, you must throw in a coin.
- For art lovers, Galleria Borghese (Villa Borghese, Tuesday - Saturday, 9 a.m. - 7 p.m.) has Rome's premier collection of masterpieces, including works by Titian, Caravaggio and Raphael.
- Rome's most magnificent shops are clustered on streets branching off from the elegant Piazza d'Spagna (the Spanish Steps). The chic-est of chic stores are found on Via Veneto and Via Condotti; more mainstream (and affordable) stores are on the long Via del Corso. Take a coffee break at Antico Caffe Greco (Via Condotti 84), a place to see and be seen since it opened in 1760. Antique stores are clustered on Via del Babuino.
Staying in Touch
easyInternetCafe (via Barbarini 2, not far from Rome's central rail station) is a really neat concept: The rate you pay is based on how busy it is. The no-nonsense -- albeit charming, with coffee bar -- cafe has rows and rows of terminals. You buy a ticket at an automated machine (minimum: one euro) and it tells you how many minutes you get.
Where to Eat and Drink
A meal at an outdoor cafe is a must-do Roman experience. We like to avoid the crowds on Piazza Navona and follow the locals instead to Piazza del Popolo, where you'll find cafes serving excellent pasta and fine people-watching, not far from the Via del Corso shopping area. It's a little more out of the way, but locals also hang out in the Trastevere neighborhood. One of the best spots there is Sabatini (Piazza Santa Maria, lunch served daily, 12:30 - 2:30 p.m.).
For something you can't get anywhere else, head to the Jewish Ghetto and try the famous fried artichokes, especially at Piperno, Via Monte de' Cenci 9 (lunch served Tuesday - Sunday, 1 - 2:30 p.m.).
From Civitavecchia: The bus trip or taxi ride to Rome takes 1 1/2 to 2 hours. The other option: Take the train, which leaves every half-hour from Civitavecchia (it takes about 1 1/4 hours) and lands right in the heart of Rome at Termini Station. For more info, go to www.civitavecchia.com
Most cruise lines offer both a motorcoach transfer option and organized tours. If you're not a tour type, one advantage here to the cruise line motorcoach option is that if the motorcoach is late coming back, the cruise ship will wait. Taxis line up at the port; play to pay about $12050 each way to Rome and back.
In Rome: Rome is a great walking city, and within the center area most of the major historic attractions, shopping areas and fabulous piazzas are easy to get to on foot. However, Rome's bus system is also efficient and simple to navigate, particularly from Termini Station; individual tickets are about $1.30 per ride, or you can buy an unlimited daily pass for about $4.2050. The Metropolitana or Metro (marked by a big red M) is the city's subway system; tickets are about $1.2050 per ride.
Where You're Docked
Civitavecchia has been the port of Rome since Emperor Trajan's time in A.D. 108. It is about 1 1/2 to 2 hours by taxi or bus from Rome (depending on traffic). Free shuttles typically ferry passengers from the ship to downtown Civitavecchia.
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