Its name literally meaning “ancient town”, Civitavecchia is an old port city on the Italian west coast. Its large harbor, the town’s main reason for existence, was built as early as the 2nd century by the Roman Emperor Trajan. Nowadays, the port and town of Civitavecchia are busier than ever. As the premier sea port of Rome, there are lots of things to see and do in Civitavecchia.
What to Do and See in Civitavecchia in One Day
This is arguably Italy’s main cruise port, which still contains its original Roman dock, a port of call for many of the world’s largest cruise lines on their Mediterranean cruises. Although it’s a popular seaside resort on the Tyrrhenian Sea coast, the town of Civitavecchia is part of the Metropolitan City of Rome.If your cruise itinerary includes a visit to Rome, this is where you’ll get off (and back on) your ship.
During your time off-board, a visit to Rome is, of course, the major highlight of this stop. However, there are also many things to do in Civitavecchia itself. Here are our suggestions of what to do and see in Civitavecchia in one day.
6 Top Attractions in Civitavecchia
The following landmarks, historic sites and attractions in Civitavecchia will keep you occupied for a day. From enjoying delicious local cuisine to exploring a massive fortress and strolling through ancient streets, these are the very best things to do in Civitavecchia on your cruise to Italy.
National Archaeological Museum of Civitavecchia
Civitavecchia is first and foremost an Ancient Roman town and nowhere this is more prevalent than at the National Archaeological Museum of Civitavecchia. Housed in an 18th-century building, this amazing museum lies mere steps from Fort Michelangelo.
Its collections are spread out across three levels, tracking the history of the region from Ancient times through the Middle Ages. It’s a great place to get an introduction to what Civitavecchia is all about, while admiring centuries-old pottery, bronzeworks, statues and sculptures.
Without question the number one attraction in Civitavecchia is Fort Michelangelo. This massive 16th-century stronghold is one of the greatest historical military structures on the Lazio coastline.
The fortress was built to protect the busy Port of Civitavecchia against marauding pirates who were a constant threat in the 15th- and 16th centuries. According to various historical sources, its “maschio”, a high tower typical of the time period, was built by none other than Michelangelo, hence the fort’s name.
Also known as the Taurine Baths or Baths of Trajan, the Terme Taurine are one of the greatest archaeological sites in Civitavecchia. They lie surrounded by greenery on a hill about 5 kilometers from the Civitavecchia town center.
If you have an hour or two of spare time, a quick excursion to these Roman baths comes highly recommended. The complex consists of beautifully preserved ruins of bathhouses, changing rooms and even bedrooms. There’s also a wonderful botanic garden on site, a great place for a contemplative stroll (just like the Romans would’ve done!).
Medieval Town Center
Located in the heart of the historic town center, Piazza Leandra is Civitavecchia’s oldest square. It’s the core of the medieval district, a fantastic area to spend a couple of hours wandering around in.
You can explore centuries-old footpaths and alleys and see old landmarks like the Church of the Star and a medieval fountain. We recommend entering Piazza Leandra from adjacent Piazza Aurelio Saffi through the charming Archetto Passage, an ancient gate in thick walls.
Near Piazza Leandra, on Piazza Regina Margherita, you’ll also find the bustling Civitavecchia Market. Known also as the San Lorenzo Market, this is a super-fun place to go for a morning walk. Local vendors sell all kinds of fresh products and produce, from fruit and vegetables to freshly caught fish.
While figuring out what to do in Civitavecchia in one day, trust us when we say that eating should be a top priority. Boasting old culinary traditions, the town is home to various local restaurants and trattorias.
Since Civitavecchia is a Mediterranean coastal town, you won’t be surprised to learn that fish and seafood are staples in many of its dishes. After enjoying a day of sightseeing, grab a seat on a patio and indulge in phenomenal food like seafood tagliatelle, Civitavecchia-style octopus, Civitavecchia fish soup or stuffed calamari.
Port of Civitavecchia
Of course, when visiting the area on a cruise, your first stop will be the Port of Civitavecchia. Dating from Ancient Roman times, this bustling harbor encompasses several of the town’s top attractions. Spend some time strolling along the waterfront and visit these Port of Civitavecchia highlights:
- Fort Michelangelo (see above)
- Walls of Urban VIII
- Vanvitelli Fountain
- Porta Livorno
- Ancient Rock of Civitavecchia
- Original Roman Dock
- Molo del Lazzaretto
Transportation and Transfer Options
The vast majority of people who visit Civitavecchia arrive by cruise ship at the huge Cruise Ship Terminal. Alternatively, it’s also the departure point for cruises that start in Rome.
You have various transportation options between the Port of Civitavecchia and the Rome city center and both the Ciampino and Fiumicino-Leonardo da Vinci airports, including buses, trains and private transfers. When you book a tour with Incitur, we’ll take care of your transfers!