Cruising the Med - Deb and Linda visit Rome!
Today, May 31, 2007 we visit Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy
Today was a most beautiful weather day, perfect for touring outside. Sunny blue skies, with a small breeze.
The Port city of Civitavecchia is approximately 2 hours from Rome.
Entering the Port of Civitavecchia:
Our Excursion: Jumping back into Eternal Rome.
This was one of the hardest ports to decide on an excursion. All the itineraries had a little of something we wanted to see, but nothing had everything! We had to make some tough choices but decided this tour would give us the most of what we were interested in. It gave us a taste of Rome and we approached it that way.
At the ship, we boarded a bus that took us to the train station. We then boarded the Roma Express Train to St. Peter's Station in Rome. The seats were red leather and quite comfortable. There was a Disney surprise onboard the train to the delight of everyone. After getting off the train we met up with our official Rome tour guide.
While on the train we were given headsets to allow us to hear the guide. Unfortunately, these were not as nice as the ones in Naples and continually fell out of my ears. Most of the time, I just said to Linda - tell me the important information!
Important Note: The train causes your ears to pop on several occasions. Those with young children, please be aware! It hurt the ears of several of the younger ones and they were crying and unhappy. Bring earplanes!!!
We had approximately a one hour tour aboard a motor coach where the guide showed us some of the highlights of ancient Rome including Circus Maximus where the chariot races took place. Our first stop was the Roman Colosseum for a one hour guided tour. Before entering we passed thru a metal detector and our backpacks also went through screening.
We entered thru the same archway as the Emperor would have entered the colosseum. It was very surreal - and we were overwhelmed realizing this was the beginnings of civilization as we know it. Rome, the eternal city. We spent about an hour here... mostly guided but then we were able to go to the upper deck on our own. Note that the stairs were VERY steep making climbing difficult. No natural rise as you would think of American stairs. There were 3 flights of them and there was at least a handrail to grab onto.
Then back on the bus for approximately 20 minutes. Next stop, the Trevi Fountain! This area was very, very crowded. It was hard to get to the front of the fountain, but we did. Linda and I then each thru in a coin - tradition is put the coin in the right hand and throw it over your left shoulder. One coin means you will return to Rome. Two coins mean you will soon get married. Three coins mean you are headed for divorce! Linda thought it would be neat to phone home - she called her sister Wanda and I called Debbie Koma! It was 6am back home but both ladies were thrilled to hear from us from Trevi!
We managed to take a quick bathroom break here and also get some gelato. Linda enjoyed her yummy hazelnut (better than she had in Palermo) and I loved my Menta (mint with chocolate chunks).
Then a 20 minute walk to the Pantheon, home of the tomb of the Renaissance painter Raphael, two kings of Italy and Queen Margherita. The Pantheon was very open. Many of the columns are still originals. The columns are so wide that it would take at least 3 adults to wrap their arms around it. There were many statues and frescos. The oculus is the only source of light, a huge round opening in the midst of the ceiling. The great bronze doors and the marble interior are the only other parts of the original building. The doors were massive.
Next we walked to the square of Piazza Navona. Unfortunately, the Fountain of the Four Rivers, an Egyptian obelisk, is under restoration. However there were some plexi-glass openings so we could enjoy some of the statues.
At this point we boarded our bus and went to lunch, Alfredo's at St. Peter's Square. What a great lunch. Bottled water on the table, followed by Asti Spumonte poured by the servers. Then white or red wine or beer or soda, even milk, was available. Hardy parmesan cheese and black olives were also on the table. Our first plate was four slices of meat that included incredible salami, a ham which tasted like there was cheese in it. Also proscuitto and another cured meat. A basket of hard rolls too!
This was followed by brushetta - Italian bread toasted with fresh basil and tomatoes. YUMMMM. Next course was lasagna with meat. Very good, tasty pasta! For dessert, a light but rich whipped cream delight! We all were feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the afternoon!!
A guided tour of the Vatican awaits us. First, you go thru metal detectors. Also, NOTE strollers had to be checked outside. No strollers inside the grounds! We also passed by the clothes police. When entering the churches of Europe you must have your knees covered and your shoulders covered. If not you will not get entrance.
We entered St. Peter's Square and saw where the Pope stands to greet the audiences in the courtyard. The top of the buildings were adorned with statues of the Saints. Once inside the basilica we were overwhelmed. There were many statues, burial areas and mosaics. Many of the mosaics actually looked like paintings but they were not. They were just magnificent. Of course, one of the most crowded areas was for Michelangelo's the Pieta. I had actually seen the Pieta at the 1964/5 Worlds Fair in New York City! But to see it in its "home" was quite moving. Memories of my mother and her Italian roots and seeing it at the Worlds Fair came flooding into my mind.
Ironically, we ran into Keith and Rob who were on the VIP tour. It seemed that many of the Disney excursions into Rome were ending at the Vatican because outside we also ran into our table mates, Mari, Raleigh, Allison and Lauren.
All too soon, it was time to walk to the bus and then off to the Roma Express. An amazing day with beautiful weather and incredible sights!
Overall Excursion Rating:
We rate the excursion very high, only problem was the head set ear pieces were horrible and kept falling out of our ears. There were several toddlers on the tour and the 10 hours made some of them very cranky on the bus and train!!! We definitely felt out guides were excellent and we really maximized our stops without feeling rushed.
There is a GREAT deal of walking and some of the steps, like at the Colosseum, are quite steep.
Deb Daily Recap:
Highs: Everything we did. Just amazing.
Lows: Crappy head sets
Linda Daily Recap:
Highs: Rome! Unbelievable! Calling my Sister from Trevi Fountain
Lows: Not enough time in Rome!
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Deb and Linda - Life -- IT Too Short!