The port of Civitavecchia is considered the gateway to Rome and was the second stop on our Mediterranean cruise. Disney had plenty of shore excursions to Rome, but they tended to be very expensive and it was difficult to find ones that saw exactly what we were hoping to see. You also had to be careful because some tours drove by famous sights (like the Colosseum), but didn't actually go into them. So, we decided to try Rome on our own and to take a train from Civitavecchia. Information on these trains can be found here and the timetable to Rome here.We purchased a BIRG ticket (12 Euros per person) which included round trip transportation on the Reg or RV trains as well as the use of the metro and buses once in Rome. Note that you have to stamp your ticket at a little machine before you board the train or risk a hefty fine.
The cruise ship terminal is a decent distance from the town, so most cruise ships provide a shuttle from the ship into Civitavecchia. From there, it was about a 15-20 minute walk to the train station. While a taxi would also have been an option, we did not see any at the bus drop-off location. We were off the ship a little after 7 am, took the 7:58 train to Rome and got off the train at Rome Ostiense around 9 am. From here, we walked about 5 minutes to the Piramide Metro stop and took line B in the direction of Rebibbia. We exited the Metro at the second stop Colosseo (Colosseum). Be forewarned, Rome in August is very hot and very crowded! Luckily we had purchased our Colosseum tickets in advance for a 10 am entry and were able to avoid some sizable lines. Our 12 Euro combination ticket covered the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine. Kids under 18 are free -- although we did have to take our ticket voucher to the ticket office to pick-up the official tickets and show proof of our children’s ages. We also purchased the English audio tour for use while walking around the Colosseum. We highly recommend it! It was so much more meaningful to know exactly what we were looking at. The tour is self-guided so you move at your own pace.
Right next to the Colosseum is the Roman Forum, the main Piazza of the ancient city of Rome and Palatine, the rumored birthplace of Romulus and Remus. This is a very large archaeological site and there is no way you can see everything. While originally I had a list of “must see” stops in the Forum, it was more enjoyable for us to wander around and investigate where we liked. There are lots of ancient ruins here, some are complete buildings that you can enter. You have a lovely view of the entire Forum and Rome itself if you climb to the top of a walled garden that sits next to/above the House of the Vestal Virgins. If it were not so hot, I think we would have explored the Forum/Palatine a bit longer -- but with the heat and our growling stomachs, we moved on after 1.5 hours.
We then walked towards Trevi Fountain and stopped at a cute little cafe on the way for lunch. The walking time between the Forum and Trevi Fountain was about 20 minutes. My daughter was devastated to find that the fountain was closed for refurbishing! So, she couldn't throw in a coin, but it should be re-opened by now. We looked in a couple shops bordering the square where the fountain was located and stopped for some gelato. We then headed to the closest train station, Roma Termini. This station is further east and thus further away from Civitavecchia. While we should have made a 3:42 train, we became lost wandering Roma Termini. It is a very large train station and we found the layout confusing. So we took the next train at 4:12 which was scheduled to arrive back in Civitavecchia around 5 p.m. We thought we would have plenty of time as our ship was scheduled to depart at 6:45. Of course, as luck would have it, the train was running behind schedule! We were not the only worried faces on the train -- we saw some other folks from our cruise ship. We ended up arriving back in Civitavecchia closer to 6 p.m., then walked back to the shuttle bus area and took the bus back to the ship. We made it in time, but it was definitely closer than we would have liked!
We had a great day and were happy that we chose to explore Rome on our own. (Our dinner table mates had been greatly disappointed when their tour did not stop at any of the sights -- they could only view the Colosseum from their bus.) However, be prepared for a very long day. It is well worth the effort, but we were very tired at the end of the day. We had originally hoped to see a few more sights, including the Vatican, but the attractions of Rome are pretty spread out. Maybe we would have had time for a short stop somewhere else if we had cabbed to Trevi Fountain, but we definitely did not have had time to see the Vatican in addition to our other stops. If you go in August as we did, be prepared for a very HOT day. Take plenty of water and wear very comfortable shoes.
Note: If you are interested in seeing the Vatican, do a little reading on the rules and regulations before you go -- you have to wear long pants, bare shoulders are not allowed, and security is tight. One of the reasons we decided not to go was because we would have needed to either wear too much clothing given the hot weather or carried it along and change somewhere before entering.