Your guide to seeing Rome in a day, perfect for those on a cruise ship.
Travel: International Travel
Travel: Money Saving
Travel: Tips & Tricks
Many cruise ships in Europe show Rome as one of its ports of call, but the port is actually in Civitavecchia, a city on the coast about forty miles or sixty kilometers away. The problem is compounded by the fact that most cruise ships only stay in port for a day, maybe twelve hours total.
This leaves the travelers with trying to see one of the most beautiful and historical cities in the world in eight hours or less. And to top it off, the local tour guides know they have a monopoly and a single day’s tour for two could cost anywhere from five hundred to a thousand dollars, including all fees and tickets. This article will attempt to create a one day guide of Rome for the adventurous on a budget.
Transportation To Rome
You can spend four or five hundred Euros just getting a cab or van to and from Rome, and with the traffic, this can eat up an hour and a half or more of the day. Another thing to note about shore excursions from the ship is they take buses which are not allowed into the city, so in addition to the long drive, there is a long walk at the end of it.
For this reason, it is suggested you take the train to and from the center of Rome. So first, you have to get to the train station from the ship. The port is in a very industrial location, so there are shuttles from the ship to the port entrance. Once you reach the entrance to the port, turn right, crossing the street at the crosswalk, and continue down about four blocks, parallel to and keeping the coast on your right.
Depending on your destination, purchase a round trip ticket to Rome and you'll be on your way. If you plan on starting at the Vatican and coming back from the center of town, just get a one way ticket to Roma S. Pietro, or the BIRG ticket. Tickets start at about four Euros depending on the train. For nine Euros, you can get a BIRG ticket which entitles you to a round trip to Rome and unlimited use of buses and the metro in the city.
The train can take you into the center of Rome at the Termini station, but this article assumes that you want to include the Vatican in your tour. In this case, make sure you get on a train that stops at St. Peter’s or the Roma S. Pietro station. If you accidentally get on an express train that takes you to the Termini, or main train station, then hop on the metro, Line A, and take it to the Ottaviano station for St. Peter’s, or the Cipro station for the Vatican Museums, depending on where you want to start. The metro trains run every 7-10 minutes
On the train from Civitavecchia, The Roma Aurelia station is the last stop before St. Peter's, so watch for it. From there it is a few blocks to the entrance to St. Peters. You can see the dome from the train as you near the station. Turn left down the hill outside the station on Via della Stazione San Pietro until you get to Via di Porta Cavalleggeri. This is a large divided street. The brick wall across the street is the wall around Vatican City. Take a right and cross over the street when you can. As you follow the wall of the Vatican you will come to a turn to the left where you can see the entrance to St. Peters.
Touring The Vatican
When you get to the Vatican, there are several options for tours. There are plenty of places online you can find that will offer guided tours for groups, but you can arrange your own at the Vatican if you want. The cheapest option is to rent an audio guide, which is an MP3 player and a headset with a self-guided recording to get you through the highlights. This is around 7 Euros. A two hour guided tour can be arranged for 30 Euros per person. You may carry in small bags, but large backpacks will need to be checked. Non-flash photography is allowed everywhere except the Sistine Chapel. No photography is allowed inside the chapel.
If after finishing the Vatican, there is still time, you can venture into the center of Rome for some more sightseeing. If you have plenty of time or energy, you can walk, but the Ottaviano metro station is only a couple of blocks up Via Ottaviano. Take the A line two stops to the Piazza Di Spagna. Get off there and you are at the Spanish Steps, and the Trinita del Monti. Just behind this is Villa Medici. A few blocks south of the Spanish Steps down Via di Propaganda is Piazza di Trevi and the Trevi Fountain.
In this part of the city, you can’t walk more than a few blocks in any direction without coming across magnificent architecture or a famous landmark, so a good map of the city would be very useful. You could walk about thirty minutes and get to the coliseum, or get back on the Metro ride to the Termini station, switch to the B line and take the second stop south, which is Colosseo.
Whatever you do in this part of Rome, you will never be able to see it all in a day, so get a map, be selective and see all you can. When you are done, get back to the Termini station, which is where the A and B lines come together on the metro. It is here that you will catch a train back to Civitavecchia and end your day in Rome. Remember what time your ship leaves and allow a couple of hours minimum to return.
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