Civitavecchia (Rome), ItalyLocation: Europe
Civitavecchia, Italy is one of the ports of call on a Disney Cruise Line European Cruise vacation and a major point of departure and arrival for travelers en route to central Italy, Sardinia, Sicily, Tunis and Barcelona. With its modern transportation systems, the town is a convenient gateway to "The Eternal City," otherwise known as Rome. A host of transportation options to be found at the dock allow for convenient direct passage. A 90-minute trip will take you from the Mediterranean coast into this, one of the most celebrated cities in the world.
Rome is famously regarded with awe and curiosity for its rich and glorious history, and for the architectural marvels that stand proudly intact to this day. Once there, you'll find plenty of relics that remain from the days when Rome represented a paragon of power and modern civilization.
Things to See and Do
Civitavecchia bustles with foot traffic that spills from the hundreds of vessels docking there each year. It is a major cruise ship and ferry port, with quaint towns around its immediate vicinity. There are a number of notable sites to be explored in Civitavecchia and neighboring Rome.
Within Civitavecchia, a prime destination for families is the Forte Michelangelo an iconic building that was commissioned by Pope Julius II to defend Rome, and features a tower designed by the famed artist Michelangelo. While treasures such as these are in great supply in Civitavecchia, most visitors elect to continue directly into the city of Rome.
Today, Rome presents a dizzying array of major tourist attractions. Stand dwarfed in the belly of the Colosseum, an ancient amphitheater and a testament to the engineering prowess of the Romans at the time of its construction. Here, elaborate gladiatorial games were held amidst the thunderous cheers of over 60,000 spectators. The stone walls of this landmark date back over 2,000 years.
From the Colosseum you can trek on foot to the Roman Forum, where senators and emperors once delivered powerful oratory and made legislative decisions that would have echoes throughout the known world.
Enter the magnificent Pantheon; now a Christian church, its colossal domed ceiling once sheltered patrons visiting to pay homage to the Roman gods.
Still more memorable experiences await in the tiny sovereign nation of the Vatican. There, you can give yourself over to the grandeur of the Sistine Chapel or Saint Peter's Basilica. Inside the latter, you can examine the detail with which Michelangelo sculpted his masterpiece, "The Pieta," which depicts Mary holding the body of her son, Jesus. A treasure trove of remarkable artwork from the likes of such masters as Pietro Perugino, Sandro Botticelli, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Cosimo Rosselli and Luca Signorelli is housed in the Vatican Museums.
Local Culture and Flavor
Aside from the most iconic of Rome's monuments, the city holds numerous other breathtaking sights to see—sights that, though common to the average Roman citizen who may encounter them daily or weekly, are a true delight for a visitor. These include the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, Santa Maria del Popolo, San Clemente Basilica, the Arch of Constantine and Venice Square.
In a city where local culture is still very much influenced by its ancient culture, you may find many of the city's citizens spending their time at novel, lesser-known sites. The more courageous of tourists will venture below ground into the labyrinthine Catacombs, where early Christians buried their dead. A more open-air experience can be had in the Roman countryside, where you can tour the fetching medieval town of Castelgandolfo, the location of the Papal Palace and Gardens where popes have summered for centuries.
Past and Present
Civitavecchia's harbor—what would eventually become an important international gateway into Italy—was constructed in the 2nd century by Emperor Trajan. In 1696, the city was established as a free port by declaration of Pope Innocent XII and became the main port into Rome in the modern era.
Rome's illustrious history, meanwhile, extends over 2,500 years into the past. Growing from collected pastoral settlements, it is most known for the glorious empire that arose from the period of conquest by Julius Caesar. For over 1,000 years, Rome was the largest, wealthiest and most influential city in the Western world, and even after its decline remained a major force in shaping European and Mediterranean culture. In the 15th century, Rome was the seat of the Italian Renaissance—a period that produced much of the grandiose artwork and architecture that draws tourists to the city today.
The glory of Rome is alive and well. The experience of a lifetime there begins as soon as your ship docks in Civitavecchia.