Rome, ‘the eternal city’ that continues to captivate and ignite the imagination of its visitors. Bursting with history and impressive monuments, it's easy to visualise how vast and significant the Ancient Empire was hundreds of years ago when you walk along the cobbled streets towards the Colosseum.
They say all roads lead to Rome and that's almost the case for Mediterranean cruises thanks to its central location in mainland Europe. Rome is accessed from the port of Civitavecchia, around one hour away from the coast by road. It's an ideal starting/ending point to a cruise holiday as you'll likely want to spend more than just an afternoon here soaking up the culture. If, however, you don't have the time or you’re taking a cruise that stops for the day in Rome, it's worth getting a feel for this fascinating city with some sightseeing on foot.
As mentioned you'll often call into Civitavecchia for your day in Rome and the cruise line you’re travelling with will likely have a variety of itineraries to make the most of your day here. A benefit of taking up one of the cruise line tours is that everything is organised for you and they guarantee that the ship will not depart without you. The downside is this can be costly, particularly if you're travelling in a large group (although out of all the stops on your cruise this may be the one where you’ll want to splash out a bit).
On my first cruise trip to Rome with family, we pre-booked a return train journey to Roma San Pietro with the cruise line we were travelling with. The journey time is less than an hour and the station is only a few minutes on foot to Vatican City and the main attractions of Rome (worth taking a city map or guide book with you).
We strolled into the city heading towards the city's iconic landmark, the Colosseum, and enjoyed whatever monument or ruin we passed en route. We first stopped off at the Piazza Navona square, filled with market stalls and restaurants around the grand Fiumi Fountain. Following this, near the Colosseum is the Roman Forum, the beating heart of Ancient Rome where the ruins of important government buildings and temples can be viewed from Via dei Fori Imperiali. The Colosseum itself needs no introduction, as the largest amphitheatre in the world it's a mighty impressive site to see - be sure to take your camera!
Another iconic landmark to check off your list is the Trevi fountain where visitors traditionally make a wish and toss a coin into the fountain. From here you can take a short walk west along the Via delle Muratte to Piazza della Rotonda to see the Pantheon. You'll be blown away by the temples ancient architecture both outside and inside, where the daylight streams through a gaping hole in the doomed roof. Surrounding the Pantheon is a variety of pizzerias and gelato parlours where you can try some of Italy's famous cuisine. After fuelling up, it's a good idea to head back towards the train station, stopping once more to enjoy panoramic views of the Saint Peter's Basilica in Vatican City.
I’d highly recommend wearing comfortable shoes as you're likely to do a lot of walking in Rome; however there is a good bus and metro service to shuttle you between the sites if preferred.
For those who'd like to fly to Rome to join their cruise, I found this to be a surprisingly easy process too. Last year I flew to Rome to join the Norwegian Epic from London Gatwick. The flight was less than two hours to Fiumicino Airport where we found just outside the terminal exit our shuttle coach to the port.
If you'd like to spend a few days in Rome before or after a cruise, you have the luxury of being able to spend more time in the attractions mentioned above and experience the local way of life from dawn till dusk. The Terravision bus from Flumicino airport to Termini Station in the city centre takes approximately 55 minutes at a current cost of €4 when booked online.
It's worth staying in a central location and taking time to explore historical sites like the Appian Way and underground catacombs. You may also like to spend a few hours dining al fresco in the Trastevere area which is a hotspot for restaurants and cafés.
With fantastic food, history and weather in abundance, Rome is a wonderful cruise destination to enjoy time and time again.