The cruise ship I am working on has been sailing around Italy, and today I got the chance to go to Rome, so I thought I would tell you about my time there
The port the ship will dock at is Civitavecchia, which is one and a half hours away from Rome. Due to the distance and the trains to Rome apparently being unreliable, I chose to do a tour so I wouldn’t have to stress about getting back to the cruise ship on time. The tour I decided to do, was called “Essence of Rome”.
When working on a cruise ship, you can either pay to do the tour with a discount or if the tour isn’t fully booked you can go as a tour escort. This means you get the tour for free and in return, you help the tour guide if he or she requires a hand. Luckily I got to do this tour as an escort, so it didn’t cost me a penny. The tour met outside the ship at 7 am so by the time everyone was on board, and the guide had introduced himself it was 7:30 when we left, and we arrived in Rome at 9 am.
We started the tour by walking from the coach to the Trevi Fountain which was a 15-minute walk.
Even at 9.15 in the morning, there were hundreds of people there, admiring the incredible fountain attached to the Palazzo Poli which is a Palace. The fountain was built against the Palace in the hope that it would increase the Palace’s popularity, and it’s safe to say their plan worked as it’s the most visited fountain in the world,
As I stood there, I was watching everyone throwing their coins into the fountain. I was informed that there is a correct way to do it, which is to hold the coin in the right hand and throw it into the fountain over the left shoulder. This is meant to ensure you return to Rome again in the future. I decided to have a go. After waiting for a gap so I could actually get close to the water, I took my position with my back to the fountain, closed my eyes, and threw my lucky coin into the water, so here’s hoping I return one day.
As it was a tour, we all had radios so that while we were looking around the different places, we could hear the tour guide. It was nice to be fed information about the places we were looking around, so you knew the significance of it rather than just thinking it was pretty.
The Piazza Venezia
From the fountain, we walked at pace, to the Roman Forum. On the way, we passed by The Piazza Venezia in Venice square. This isn’t a central “sight to see”, but it should be. I found it breathtaking. The Piazza Venezia is vast and stands proud in its busy surroundings.
The Roman Forum
The Roman Forum was a commercial and political centre in ancient Rome. It was a centre for the Senate meetings and ceremonies and rallies. As you look at the ruins that are there today, you can just imagine the outstanding ancient city that it once was.
While here we saw:
-The Arch of Septimus Severus which was constructed to honour the victories of Septimus Severus.
-The temple of Saturn of which only eight columns made of granite remain.
-The ruins of the House of the Vestal Virgins whose duty it was to guard the sacred flames of Vesta
-The Arch Of Titus, a single archway made of white marble built by Titus to commemorate the capture of Jerusalem
The cities elite made their homes here, and there are still remains of various houses on Palatine Hill.
A few minutes walk away from the Forum brought us to the Colosseum. Unfortunately, my tour didn’t include access to the inside of The Colosseum, but I certainly understood why it is on everyone’s bucket list. The Colosseum could hold audiences of 50,000 people in its hay day as they watched heavily armed gladiators fight to the death.
After a morning of wandering the streets of Rome, we were all hungry, so it was the perfect time to be taken to a traditional Italian restaurant for lunch. The place was called Casanova. They had everything you could want on offer from pasta, pizza, soups, garlic bread and lots of Italian wine.
The pasta I had (tomato penne with a cheese and spinach filling) was to die for and went very well with the delicious wine.
Next on our list was the beautiful Vatican Museum. As it happens, I love a good museum, so I was really excited about this one and saying that it outlived my expectations is an understatement. We were lucky enough to have fast passes, but if you haven’t I would expect the queue to get in would take about 1 hour. We followed our guide through the museum and listened intently as she told us about some of the most poignant pieces of artwork.
The areas of the museum that we went in, were:
Museo Pio-Clementino which contains priceless sculptures including Apollo Belvedere and Laocoon
Museo Egizio which includes a collection of Egyptian statues and Mummies
Museo Etrusco, devoted to Etruscan antiques
Capella Sistina (Sistine Chapel) which contain paintings by Perugino, Botticelli, Ghirlandaio, as well as the entire ceiling of renowned Frescoes my Michelangelo. On the altar wall, you will be able to see his great painting ‘The Judgement’ to which he devoted 7 years of his life.
I honestly spent the whole time gawping at the sublime artwork that this museum contained. I had neck ache by the end of it because of looking up at the ceilings.
The Sistine chapel was out of this world. The detail in the paintings and just knowing how much time it would have taken to complete is respectable. Although there’s meant to be complete silence in there, it’s not, so there are security guards scattered about who all ‘shhhh” every 10 minutes to quiet people down.
St Peter’s Basilica
We left the museum and came out in St Peter’s Basilica which took over 100 years to build. The interior is rich in coloured marbles, mosaics, paintings, pillars, alters and monumental tombs.
You can see the previous Pope lying at rest in a glass box just on the left of the main entrance. We were given half an hour to explore the church and look at all the detailed interiors.
The Vatican City
When leaving St Peter’s Basilica, you come out into the middle of the Vatican Square which is surrounded by high stone columns. The Vatican City has its own postal service and train station and is classed as its own Country which is ruled by the Pope. The city is about 100 acres, which makes it the smallest country in the world.
To complete our tour, like any good tour there is always a gift shop involved, so we all spent about 10 minutes looking around, buying our magnets and postcards before heading back to the coach. The coach ride took about 2 hours to get back to the cruise ship in Civitavecchia, which was a nice amount of time to reflect on the day and wind down.
I didn’t expect to appreciate Rome as much as I did and definitely want to go back so I can explore this magnificent city on my own time. Yes, the tour was rushed, and it would be ideal to have more time, but it was a great way to see the majority of the tourist attractions in one day.
The tour was well organised, and the guide was brilliant. I would definitely recommend doing a tour when in Rome as you get to learn about the sights rather than just see them.
Things to bear in mind:
The description of the tour I read before booking it, stated that we would start at the Vatican and end at the Trevi fountain. We did it the opposite way round as I said, to try and avoid various road works, traffic, and these places being too overcrowded with other tours. Don’t be alarmed if your trip doesn’t run as advertised. Itinerary changes are very common, and as long as you see all the sights that were advertised, it doesn’t matter what order you see them in.
Rome is a perfect place to see on foot, and that is precisely what we did for the most part, so be sure to wear comfortable footwear. All in all, it was about 12 hours of walking.
Rome is known for its sporadic weather changes. For most of our day the sun was shining, but we did get two spurts of a torrential downpour, so be prepared for all weather.
I always have cash. A lot of the little shops and some of the tourist attractions like the Colosseum don’t accept card, so be sure to have some money.
Like any city, there is always a chance of pickpockets and Rome is rife with it. Due to its big huddles of tourists that are bumping into each other, it’s easy to mistake a pickpocket for just another tourist fighting their way through the crowds, so spread your money across various pockets, wear your backpacks on your front in the densely crowded areas and just keep your wits about you.
Other than that, you will have the most fantastic time exploring this lovely city.