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Cruise Diva Goes Ashore in Europe:
The Mediterranean
Sights to see & things to do

Rome, Italy

The Eternal City wasn’t built in a day and visitors would typically want to spend far more time exploring it than a cruise allows. Rome is a city of contrasts and excesses, from the splendor and majesty of the Vatican to the quiet piazzas that are an oasis of calm in a sea of confusing streets and noise.


Civitavecchia was proclaimed the port of Rome by Emperor Trajan in AD 108 and is where cruise ships dock to this day. Most passengers completely ignore most of its uninteresting modern architecture and head straight for motor coaches or trains to Rome. Drive time to the city is one hour. Once in Roman traffic, it can take another half-hour before you begin to explore, either independently, on a combination of independent and guided tour, or fully guided tour. From where most busses stop, the Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, Spanish Steps, and Piazza Navona where Bernini’s “Fountain of the Four Rivers” dominates the center, are all within walking distance. Cross the Tiber River and head for the Castel Sant'Angelo, Emperor Hadrian’s tomb, which contains exhibits displayed in a maze of rooms. The terrace, with its memorable views, was the setting of the last act of Puccini's Tosca.

Busses generally pass through Rome’s largest park—the Villa Borghese, past the Victor Emmanuel Monument on the Piazza Venezia, and the ruins of the Roman Forum, with a stop to tour the Colosseum and Arch of Constantine.  To many visitors, St. Peter's is the day’s highlight. The serenity and grandeur of Vatican City and St. Peter's is unsurpassed. Inside, the church contains some of the world’s most priceless works of art—the dome was designed by Michelangelo, the bronze altar canopy by Bernini, and the nave of the first chapel on the right contains Michelangelo’s incomparable Pieta. The Sistine Chapel is where Michelangelo worked for four years on the extraordinary ceiling frescoes that describe the story of Genesis in nine scenes and his Last Judgment is behind the high altar. Small binoculars are helpful to view the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and the dome in St. Peter’s. 

Inside the 1,400 rooms of the Vatican Museums are an abundance of treasures including Greek, Roman, and Etruscan sculptures, Renaissance paintings, maps, tapestries, and the Raphael Rooms containing his magnificent frescoes. In the Gallery of Modern Religious Art are masterpieces by Gauguin, Picasso, and Dali.


Via Condotti is at the heart of Rome’s fashionable district where stores boast the names of designers such as Versace, Gucci, Bulgari, and Armani. Shop here for luxury fashions, accessories, shoes, and jewelry with the best buys in leather and silk. Gold jewelry is a necessary part of a Roman woman’s wardrobe and it is still fashioned in small artisans’ studios in the Jewish Ghetto. Shops adjacent to the Vatican’s Piazza San Pietro contain religious medals, statues, and artwork.

Civitavecchia has limited shopping in the area including Piazza Vittorio Emanuele and Corso Centocelle.

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