I recently posted a full recap of a 7-day cruise around the Mediterranean but I think each of the stops deserves it’s moment in the spotlight. We only had one day in Rome but I have a lot to say about it!
The cruise ship left out of and returned to Civitavecchia which is the main port of Rome and about a 45 drive from the Rome-Fiumicino International Airport. The cruise line provided free airport transportation but we were spending an extra night in Rome so upon disembarkment we tried to catch a taxi to Rome from the port. Everyone we talked to on the ship said a taxi should run us about $120 but unfortunately, there was only one taxi driver and he decided he wanted to take advantage of tourists and demanded $300 in cash. But this is Europe and there’s public transportation-a-plenty so we opted to catch a bus to the train station and found a train to Rome for $4 per person.
We stayed at Hotel Nord Nuovo which was only about a five minute walk from Rome Termini Train Station. I’d consider it a budget hotel but it had everything we needed for one night and there was even a super cute rooftop bar.
We had a few hours to kill before our scheduled tour of the Colosseum so we walked around town grabbing pastries, pizza and coffee as we visited some of the major spots like the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain and Pantheon. Man-oh-man was it crowded! Word on the street is that you should visit the most popular areas at off hours but we didn’t really have a choice.
There was one crazy moment while we were walking where the police had blocked off the road. We decided to stop and see what was coming and found ourselves watching Ukrainian President Zelensky’s motorcade drive through as he left his audience with the Pope. What a surreal moment. This video is not of the motorcade but we also saw these soldiers and I have to assume they had something to do with his visit.
After a few more coffees and snacks, it was finally time for our Colosseum tour. I had pre-purchased tickets through The Roman Guy, and we had an incredible tour guide. Shoutout Marco! We learned so much over the three hours as we walked through the Colosseum and nearby archeological site. I highly recommend a guided tour if you ever have the chance to visit the Colosseum. We were so enthralled that we didn’t even care that we were getting rained on the whole time.
We learned that the saying “all roads lead to Rome” is quite literal. Rome was the center of the Roman Empire and as they expanded and conquered nearby territories they built 50,000 miles of roads that led back to Rome. For context, the Earth is only 25,000 miles in circumference.
The ruins that you see near the Colosseum had to be dug up because when the Roman Empire fell, the Popes tore down anything referencing the pagan gods and buried it. From what we learned, most of what the Romans built would still be standing today if humans hadn’t interfered, this includes the Colosseum.
The Colosseum today is just the skeleton of its former self. All of the marble facade was scavenged and none of the original bleachers or stairs remain.
After the fall, the population of Rome went from about one million people to around 30,000 and some of those that stayed moved their homes into the Colosseum. They removed the metal fixtures that held the pillars together to melt it down for other purposes. This is important because Italy is one of the most earthquake-prone countries in Europe. Over time without the brackets the Colosseum crumbled.
The maze-looking area that you see is the staging area for the gladiators and was once below the arena floor. They lifted animals of every species into the arena to keep the fights interesting. But according to our tour guide, the fights were not intended to end in injury or death. They were simply for entertainment and betting. Yes, the gladiators were slaves but the owners would have lost a lot of money if their fighters were constantly being killed. The bloodiest part of the show was apparently at halftime which they used for public executions.
For our final meal in Italy we went to a restaurant around the corner from our hotel called Nerone. And when I say that it was TO. DIE. FOR! The service and atmosphere were excellent and the pasta ruined all dried store-bought pasta for me forever. We enjoyed a bottle of wine and were just so delighted by everything we tasted that our waiter kept bringing us shots to keep the party going. It was a magical last night in Italy.
There were two cats that lived outside of the restaurant. They had their own house and food bowls and hung out next to the door waiting for treats. I wish I would have asked for their names….
That night, we received a few notices that our flight was delayed but it just gave us time to grab another pastry in the morning before heading to the airport. Because apparently we hadn’t stuffed ourselves with enough pasta. D’Angelo Caffè was a few blocks from the hotel and had one of the best almond croissants I’ve ever tasted.
And that was how we spent 24 hours in Rome! I visited Rome in 2009 when I was studying abroad in college and it was so surreal to be back 14 years later. The below photos were taken 14 years apart from the same spot. I definitely won’t wait that long before I get back to Italy again!
2 thoughts on “One day in Rome”
Wow, just look at your beautiful photos from Rome, Casey! I’ve been to Italy many many times but never to Eternal City. I hope you had a fabulous time on the cruise. Thanks for sharing and have a good day :) Aiva xx
Thank you Aiva!! It was such a great week and ending it in Rome was perfection. I haven’t been travelling as much as we’ve been settling into our new place in Texas but I’m excited to have some adventures to share again. Have a wonderful day!