Ancient fortress, Civitavecchia

Ancient fortress in Civitavecchia sits on the coastline.

Civitavecchia Harbor At Dusk

Visit Civitavecchia's beautiful harbor, originally built in the 2nd century.

Don’t Say, “Arrivederci” Just Yet

When you get a Mediterranean cruise itinerary, and are assuming a day trip to Rome, you are somewhat surprised that the port is called Civitavecchia. “Is this Italian for “Eternal City?” you wonder. Actually, it literally means “ancient town.” Civitavecchia is simply Rome 's seaport on the Tyrrhenian Sea.

Not to worry, all roads (and boats) will lead you to Rome, as well as trains. Several leave per hour and take approximately 60 minutes to get there. However, while here, why not stay a while? There are plenty of sights to see in this harbor that was originally constructed by the Emperor Trajan.

Towering over the port itself, Fort Michelangelo is hard to miss. Designed in part by the Renaissance master, the fort was originally commissioned in 1503 by Pope Julius II Della Rovere and was built by Donato Bramante until the architect's untimely death. It was finally completed in 1535 under Pope Paul III, who had Michelangelo design and built the tower.

La Finconcella is a curative hot spring that has been used since ancient Roman times. Located on the outskirts of Civitavecchia, the springs are now contained in a modern health spa. You can still visit the Roman ruins at the nearby Terme Taurine archaeological site. The bath complex is still popular with local Civitavecciesi and Romans.

Want more ruins? Dig a little deeper. Housed in an 18th century building that was once the papal garrison, the National Archaeological Museum is in the in the heart of Civitavecchia's historic center. The museum displays both Etruscan and Roman collections unearthed in excavations carried out in the area. There's an interesting collection of Roman anchors and an astonishing statue of Apollo.

A pilgrimage site for many Catholics around Italy, The Madonna of Civitavecchia is a small, 17-inch tall statue of the Virgin Mary. In 1995, a five-year-old girl reported seeing the statue shed tears of blood. Since then, at least 14 more cases have been reported to Catholic Church investigators. The city's bishop, Monsignor Girolamo Grillo, claims the statue cried in his hands. The statue has been placed in a glass display case in the church of Sant'Agostino in northern Civitavecchia. Come behold for yourself.

Now you've seen Civitavecchia, you can return to Rome or head out to the beautiful Mediterranean Sea on board a luxury liner. Or, if you hold a Eurail Italy Pass, enjoy a 20% reduction on ferry crossings to Tunis (Tunisia) and Porto Torres (Sardinia). It may not be a luxury suite with an all-you-can-eat buffet, but you'll still feel the wind through your hair.

Contributed by: Lothaire, a Marketing Manager in the eBusiness team, has lived 4 years in Paris and used to take overnight trips on the Eurostar to go clubbing in London.

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