In the middle of planning our next big trip, and for the sake of the information I couldn’t find pre-honeymoon, I’m writing this post on what I learned about International cruising and getting the most out of Rome in 8 hours.
When in Rome… Anthony and I managed to hit all of the highlights on our honeymoon after our cruise ship docked in Civitavecchia, about an hour’s train ride away. I cannot tell you how many times we were told, by people who had been to Rome, that we wouldn’t have time for both the Vatican and the Colosseum. We managed to see the Vatican, including St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel, the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps.
First and foremost, plan ahead for tickets. If we hadn’t purchased advance tickets online, I can tell you that everyone who told us we couldn’t see the Vatican and the Colosseum would have been right. Avoid using travel sites and services and purchase tickets directly from the museums and sights. By 9:30am the line to get into the Vatican Museum was wrapped around 3 walls of Vatican City. We passed everyone standing in line, walked straight up to the gate where there is a separate entrance for online reservations, and waited less than 5 minutes to enter. The situation was similar at the Colosseum. For the sake of time, I’d advise skipping the Vatican tour; it takes about 3 hours. In my opinion, the first 300 Roman sculptures were plenty.
The Gallery of Maps, or Galerie des cartes géographique, was incredible. The Sistine Chapel was far more incredible than I had envisioned. I concluded from that Vatican that Rome is like Texas. Romans are very proud of Rome. Expect it to take you about 30 minutes from the time you want to leave to find the exit. The Vatican is like Ikea: even the shortcuts make you walk through half of the enormous building.
Secondly, plan ahead for transportation. By researching the train schedules before we left, Anthony and I found that trains ran from Civitavecchia to Rome pretty frequently. We knew we were safe to skip the expensive cruise-sponsored excursions or transportation into the Eternal City. We bought our TrenItalia tickets in advance, but happily paid for new tickets when we ported early. Also note the time of returning trains. We had to leave Rome earlier than we would have liked in order to make our All Aboard. Trains don’t run quite as frequently from Rome to Civitavecchia.
Civitavecchia’s port is a 10-15 minute walk to the train station. If you’re heading to Rome by way of the train station, you might like to know that we did not encounter and English speaking employees there. Give yourself time to find the right platform. We got off at San Pietro and walked straight to St. Peter’s Basilica. Here, we made it in early enough to miss the line that had formed by the time we left.
Don’t waste an hour walking. The Colosseum is on the opposite side of the river from the Vatican, so for 11 euros or so, hail one of the many cabs that are waiting right outside the exit. Anthony and I got a great cabby who was happy to practice his English and tell us about the sites we were passing. We had him drop us off at the Colosseum to be sure we wouldn’t miss that, but in hindsight, I would have had him drop us off at the Spanish Steps, walked to Trevi Fountain, and then continued walking to the Colosseum, which was closest to Roma Termini, the train station we left from. At Trevi Fountain, toss a coin over your left shoulder using your right had. Anthony and I tossed coins every way except the correct way.
See more of our Honeymoon here.
Above all, remember (insert creeper photo from the Colosseum) that…