Ancient Baths - Terme Taurine
Located in Civitavecchia you'll find the Archaeological-Botanical Park of the Taurine Baths. These baths were built around naturally hot sulfur (sulphur) spring water. The site has two parts: The Republican Baths which date back to the 1st century B.C. and The Imperial Baths built by Emperor Hadrian between 123-136 A.D. For approx. 5 euros you can walk around on your own however for only approx. 8 euros you can have a guided tour (English available). The guided tour is much more informative as you will learn about the building techniques, what archaeologists believe each space was used for, and much more. Recently the site has added a formal Roman style garden called Horti Traianei (Gardens of Emperor Trajan), which includes many of the plants that the Romans would have recognized.
The guided tour takes about 1.5-2 hours and makes for a leisurely afternoon if you are looking for a short trip. The Baths are closed on Mondays. Current hours for the summer are Tues.-Sun. 9:00am-1:00pm and again 2:30pm-dusk. Winter hours are Tues.-Sun. 9:00am-1:00pm and again 3:00pm-dusk.
For more information visit the website: www.prolococivitavecchia.it, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (from in Italy) 338-2707567.
Behind the cathedral, Civitavecchia's centro storico begins, and is actually quite a nice place to walk around. True, there aren't any amazing must-sees, and fans of architecture will definitely get more of a thrill in 1001 other Italian towns, but Civitavecchia's centro storico is almost completely free of tourists, which in my book is a very big attraction. The pretty square of Piazza Leandra is the nicest part, all cobbles and fountains and green shutters and gossipping women and laundry hung out to dry.
The main street, Corso Centocelle
The pedestrian main street of Civitavecchia seems to have had a recent paint job, and has several attractive buildings painted bright colours. The most striking building is probably the theatre. Aside from this, there are plenty of shops, cafes and restaurants, and lots of cruiseship crew members enjoying a few hours off.
Civitavecchia is a busy port, attracting up to a dozen cruise ships and numerous ferries each day in summer, so there is a constant stream of ship passengers heading right out of the port, along the seafront to the train station for the first train out to Rome. Go against the herd and turn left instead, walk between the old city walls and the harbour, and eventually you'll come to a gate. A sparkling white gate, in fact, which has probably had a bit of work done...but it is still quite a sight. This is the Livorno gate, or Porta Livorno, and nowadays doesn't really serve much of a purpose...the steps take you to a pizzeria in a modern buidling. The old city must have shrunk in the last century, probably to do with the heavy bombing in the WWII, and you now have to walk inland a couple of blocks before anything else historical reveals itself.
The busy street along the seafront leads to the train station and the beach...so in the morning, throngs of cruise ship passengers walked in one direction, while late afternoon there was mass migration in the opposite direction. Shops and bars along here have obviously tried to capitalize on this passing trade...there's a loud English pub and some tacky souvenir shops, but there are also some grand old hotels and a colourful pink and purple church...oh, and the obligatory statue of Garibaldi.
The walls and Forte Michelangelo
You can walk along the top of the walls...not as exciting as it sounds, as it is more like walking along a wide pavement, but you do get good views over the busy harbour and Forte Michelangelo, a 15th century fortress museum at the entrance to the port. Can't tell you more about the fort...if Civitavecchia merits a mention in any tourist guide, it is usually the fort that is mentioned and nothing else, but it was a hot day and I was in no mood for museums. And anyway, it was shut.
Instead of turning off left to the station, cross over the busy road and you'll find the pedestrianized seafront promenade. Again, the buildings (including some outdoor cafes with good views) along the promenade do seem to have been restored and given a lick of paint. I'd read some damning reviews of Civitavecchia before going, but walking along here, I had to wonder if those reviewers had actually spent more than a few minutes in the town.
The other side of Corso Centocelle
I'm not sure if this is still part of the centro storico...the buildings are a mixture of new and not-so-new, and some of the streets are narrow...a few piazzas with outdoor cafes and shops. Lots of buildings have been painted disturbing shades of pink, which may be an attraction for some I suppose.
I liked the absurdity of il Pirgo, the ornate pier that leads to a very small and possibly man-made island just off the main beach. It looks better from afar, and there are nice views of the seafront from the end, but up close the pier has been vandalized with black marker pens. I like some graffitti when it shows artistic talent, but scribblings in black marker pen do seem pointless...but somehow here, it seemed appropriate.
Steps from the promenade lead to a sandy beach which stretches beyond the Pirgo. In August, it didn't seem too overcrowded, and unlike many Italian beaches, sunbeds and umbrellas were not set out in rows. For a public beach very close to one of Italy's major ports, the water was remarkably clear and there were swimmers aplenty.
The little archway
It may look like Piazza Leandra is a dead end, but look again. Up the steps at the far end, you'll see a tiny archway almost hidden in the corner. Through the archway, the centro storico continues a bit more, and this side of the archway is more picturesque, housed under a tiny brick tower sandwiched between two old houses.
I don't know if this is a permanent feature or whether it just appears for a few weeks in summer, but in the park behind the beach clubs along Viale Garibaldi, there was a large market selling second-hand books, tie-died clothing, friendship bracelets and the usual tat. I didn't notice it in the morning, only finding the market with an hour to go before the ship left port...and for a touristy market, there didn't seem to be many tourists there.
A couple of blocks in from the old city walls, Civitavecchia's cathedral overlooks a concrete expanse of car park, and the impressive structure looks rather silly with some of Italy's less charming apartment blocks around it.
The church at the end of the seafront
Nope...no idea what the church is called...and to be honest, it isn't anything rushing out of your way to see. But after missing a train to Tarquinia and having to wait an hour for the next, I'd spotted what looked to be an intriguing building from the top of the station steps...it turned out to be this yellow church, with a statue of ...erm...someone outside.
Just came back from Civitavecchia from a cruise visit. C is much changed since we were last there about 8 years ago, then we just went to Rome and just spent about an hour in C but this time we didnt go to Rome and stayed in C.
It is now a more like a asmall seeside town with a lot of shops , market, restaurants and bars.
You can change money here too at a reasonable rate. The market was good, managed to get a few things with some bartering. Had 2 beers in the open outdoor bar, another paint at the bar by the seaside, a bit expensive though for 5 euros. There is a lovely statue of a sailor and a girl by the seaside.
Next time I go on another cruise and we stop at C i will be more than happy to spend 3-4 hours here.
Hope this helped, Bal
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