Civitavecchia & Rome, Italy
Rome wasn’t built in a day, but if you just have a day and are a first time visitor to the eternal city the must-see places are the Colosseum, the Forum, the Vatican, the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon and Piazza Navona. From Rome’s cruise port, Civitavecchia, take the fast train to the main station Rome City Centre, Termini Station. From there, either take the metro or cab it to your starting point. Taxis are extremely expensive, but worth the cost if your time in Rome is limited. View the ride as part of your tour since the cab will drive past many iconic sites.
Tip: Reservations for everything from museums to restaurants is a must and the more you arrange in advance the better.
If adrenaline-pumping adventure is on your list — and you already know how to ride a motorbike — rent a scooter and explore the city. If you have never maneuvered a motorbike, Rome, with its chaotic traffic and sometimes aggressive drivers, is not the place to start. OnRoad is one of the companies that allows you to reserve a motorbike online. Be sure to bring your driver’s license and passport with you when arrive for your scooter.
You don’t need any experience to glide by the Eternal City’s sites on a Segway. The three-hour tours start with instruction and continue with a follow-the-leader, single-file sightseeing past the Roman Forum, Colosseum, Orange and Rose Gardens as well as other sites. Companies include Italy Segway Tours; book ahead.
If intrigue excites you, see the Castel Sant’ Angelo. This towering cylindrical building, initially commissioned by Roman Emperor Hadrian as a mausoleum, now serves as a museum. It was also used by popes as a fortress and castle. The Castel connects to Vatican City via the Passetto di Borgo, an elevated passage that on several occasions served as an escape route for popes in danger.
Every night is a party in Rome, especially in Trastevere, home to myriad bars and restaurants and streets filled with twentysomethings. Start in Piazza Trilussa at Enoteca Ferrara, a wine bar, café and restaurant. The wines are excellent as is the selection, but items are pricey. If Italian opera, ballet and concerts are more your style, check out Teatro Dell’Opera Di Roma for a selection of options such as the ballet Giselle and the opera Samson and Delilah.
History comes alive at Palazzo Valentini, a museum housed in two patrician villas. Using multimedia technology, the facility recreates an ancient Roman home. Through clever light shows the bare stones morph into mosaics, baths, furnishings and even a kitchen. Buy tickets prior to arrival as the English tour sells out days in advance.
Villa Borghese, one of the largest public parks in Rome, has museums, a theatre, a lake as well as numerous fountains. From both the garden and the Borghese Gallery, noted for its works by Bernini, Caravaggio, Titian and Raphael, offer splendid views. For another great city view, climb the 320-steps in the cupola of St. Peter’s Basilica. (Children must be at least 8-years-old). As you hike higher, the walls narrow, slanting downwards, so that you must walk single-file and hold onto a rope. The reward, is the breathtaking, literally, panorama of Rome.
When in Rome, taste some of the bites locals enjoy. From Aroma, located on the rooftop terrace of the Hotel Palazzo Manfredi, indulge with both a view of the Colosseum and the culinary creations of Chef Giuseppe Di Iorio. Good bets include the homemade fusilli pasta, Kobe beef and medallions of monk fish. Meals are pricey.
For a midrange palate pleaser, dine at La Taverna del Ghetto located in the Ghetto. Try the carciofi alla giudia, or fried artichokes and the meat-filled ravioli. Save room for the delicious desserts. For cheap eats, especially with children, Roma Sparita, a kid-friendly restaurant in Trastevere, attracts locals and tourists. The place is best known for the tasty cacio e pepe, noodles with cheese and pepper.
If money is no object, there are plenty of ways to spend it in Rome. For fabulous shopping, go to the Spanish Steps and replenish your closet with everything from gorgeous leather shoes to stunning suits and dresses. Prada, Fendi, Louis Vuitton, Dior, and Hermes are among the luxury brands sold in the area.
By booking private tours of popular sites, you skip ahead of even those waiting in priority lines, a prime way to maximize shore time and pick the focus that interests you. Among the possibilities are personalized tours of the Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica; a tour of the Borghese Gallery and gardens with an expert in Baroque art; a sightseeing drive through Rome in a vintage Fiat 500 manned by your chauffeur/guide. Viatour is among the companies offering private tours. For a pre- or post-cruise treat, the Palazzo Manfredi hotel offers guests Lamborghini rentals.
There are countless opportunities to take those quintessential photos of streets lined with cafés, windows filled with flowers and lovers walking hand-in-hand. Stroll the Piazza Navone, known for its three fountains, including Quattro Fiumi (Four Rivers) for which Bernini was commissioned on the occasion of the Jubilee of 1650. Today artists display and sell their work in the Piazza where you can enjoy an authentic Italian coffee, gelato or glass of bubbly at one of the many outdoor cafés. In Trastevere, pause at 34 Vicolo del Cedro to meet artist Mohssen Kasirossafar, often seen with his cat on his shoulder. His musical instrument shop carries lutes, guitars and harps. Then find your way to Piazza Santa Maria Trastevere and see the church. For a romantic lunch, cross the bridge by Piazza Trilussa and go to Beppe e I Suoi Formaggi, Via Santa Maria del Pianto 9A/11, a wine and cheese shop that is also a restaurant. Share a cheese platter, salad and bottle of wine and discuss your favorite Rome moments.
In this walking city, the best way to explore is to wander. Arm yourself with a map and start on the cobblestone streets of the Ghetto. Grab a slice of pizza while you walk towards Campo de Fiori, a piazza in the historic center of Rome with an open-air market filled with flowers, fruits, pasta and olive oils.
From there, stroll to the stunning Piazza Navona, which is surrounded by kid- friendly ice cream shops and on sunny days filled with artists selling paintings and prints. Find your way to the Pantheon where the entrance is free and the view priceless.
Then look for the signs that guide visitors to the Trevi Fountain where if you like what you see in Rome, toss a penny over your shoulder into the fountain to ensure you will come back.
–Masada Siegel is a freelance journalist and author of “Window Dressings” which can be found at masadasiegelauthor.com.