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Jean Roberts

Walking Civitavecchia

Civitavecchia means 'ancient town'.

It is the gateway to the glories of Rome.

No one but an Italian can pronounce it.......

The port of Civitavecchia has a rich history. The town we see today was built on the ruins of an Etruscan settlement. The port was built by the Emperor Trajan at the beginning of the first century. In the 6th century it became a Byzantine holding, and then was part of the Papal States from 728. Remains of the different eras can be seen in the port city.

Oh, and it is pronounced Chee veet' a vek ee ah - well, something like that.......

If you have seen the sights of Rome previously, have a short day at the middle of back-to-back cruises, or have some time after your flight—walk the port of Civitavecchia. The interesting areas are easily reached from your ship. Just take the shuttle and get off at Forte Michelangelo, the sixteenth century fortress at the entrance to the pier area.  The shuttle routes have also changed, and are difficult to understand on-line as most instructions are for embarking and disembarking, rather than for exploring the port. If you go into town, ask where to catch the shuttle back to the ship. Apparently you can get off the shuttle at Forte Michelangelo but you can’t get on the bus there.


1. A Beach Walk


2.4 km. (1.5 miles) return to the Forte Michelangelo, including exploring the breakwaters. Take the shuttle from the ship to Forte Michelangelo.


The sea-side park area has been well developed. Turn right  (south-east) from the Forte Michelangelo and follow the paths by the ocean.  There is a curved path with landscaping, and several break-waters with paved access to explore. Down the beach past the wavy path is a continuation of the walk by the sea with a restaurant and a charming bridge (photo below) out to a rock island. These breakwaters and the bridge give excellent vistas for photography.

Lynda Thompson
civit map 1.jpg
@2018 Google  @2009 GeoBasis-DE/BKG
Lynda Thompson

2. A Walk Through the Old City of Civitavecchia


This is about a 2.2 km. (1.4 mile) circuit as shown.

You can start this walk anywhere in the circle  - or go in the opposite direction.

From the Forte Michelangelo, cross the waterfront street. You will see a long stone wall below the buildings that ends just across from the Forte, with stairs from the right hand end (see photo beside). The wall was built in the 1600's by Bernini - the famous architect and sculptor - to protect the city.

Step 1 - Along the wall and by the ruins

Climb the stairs and follow the patterned walkway. There are great views of the harbor, and stores and restaurants beside the walkway and through gateways to the street behind. In the middle of the walkway the patterned path continues, but there is a diversion where the path is at street level. Across the street is the wonderful church of St. Francis of Assissi.

Google Earth - Street View
civitav map 2.jpg

At the end of the walkway go down to the street level and walk to the street next to the marina. In front of you is what is called the “Rock of Civitavecchia”, the ruins of a medieval (1400 AD) castle. Walk around the castle area and come back to the main street - you can walk through an arch at the end of the Bernini wall (beside). Cross the street, remembering that in Italy, the pedestrian does not have the right-of-way!

©2018 Google  ©2009 GeoBasis-DE/BKG

Step 2 - Into the ancient city

Across the street is a small park area, with trees and benches. With your back to the ocean, you want to walk on the right hand side of the park, so shops are on your right and the park on the left. Continue up this street, Via Colle Dell'Olivo.

You are now in the old city!  Ahead is a building that was built into a tower of the medieval castle. Walk up the stairs to your right just before this tower, and into a maze of little ancient squares. Don't miss this - it is old Italian ambience....

civit map2.jpg
©2018 Google  ©2009 GeoBasis-DE/BKG

 At the end of the street is the  church of Santa Maria dell'Orazione e Morte. This church is the oldest in Civitavecchia, built in 1685. It was “constituted in the second half of the sixteenth century to give adequate  burial to the corpses abandoned outside the city walls or dispersed in the sea.” (Port Mobility, Civitavecchia). Inside are famous frescos and several well-known wooden statues.


At the church, turn right and you are entering Piazza Saffi and will see more evidence of the 9th century castle.


Enter the old arch (photo beside) and you are in Piazza Leandra. Visit the small charming Church of the Virgin of Graces at the far end of the piazza, better known Church of the Star. There is a beautiful statue of the Virgin Mary, and the church has other important works of art. It is tiny, but delightful.

©2018 Google  ©2009 GeoBasis-DE/BKG

Step 3 - To the market

Go back to Piazza Saffi and continue to the far end of the square and along the street until the street ends. Turn left and go around the jog in the street and the market area is ahead. There are three blocks with different market areas— one indoors and one outdoors to your left, and one indoors to your right. Local Italian markets are wonderful! The local people go to the market every morning to buy the foods for the day, as freshness is very important. The markets are often noisy as people argue prices with the vendors, and they are very colourful. The displays make great photos. Some Italian vendors will happily let you take photos, and some are  less cooperative. If you don’t speak Italian, point to your camera and look quizzically at the vendor for permission.

After looking at the market stalls, walk to the far end of the outdoor market section where there is a one-way street and turn right. Walk three short blocks to a circle where six streets enter.

©2018 Google

Step 4 - Walking down Corso Centocelle

Turn right again into a wider street - Corso Centocelle, and in one block it turns into a pleasant pedestrian street. Near the top of the street is a section of pebbled pavement, and here, while the street was being remodeled, Etruscan ruins were found. You can peek at them through the glass section of the street.

About two blocks down the pedestrian street, look to your left to see another pleasant square,  Piazza Antonio Fratti. Back on Corso Centocelle you will soon be back where you began at Forte Michelangelo. As you come out to the waterfront street across from the Forte Michelangelo,  turn to your left and left again to the very photogenic Church of Immacolata - painted the colours you often see in Italy - pink and burnt sienna.

©2018 Google  ©2009 GeoBasis-DE/BKG
©2018 Google  ©2009 GeoBasis-DE/BKG
Lynda Thompson
Lynda Thompson
©2018 Google
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