Discover Rome by train

Discover Rome by train


The Celebrity Silhouette enters the port of Civitavecchia on a beautiful day in May. From there the organized trips to Rome start. We know the city well enough; none of the offered, guided (and expensive) excursions are suitable for us. As on previous visits, we take the regional train. At the Civitavecchia train station we board the regional train line 5 to Rome. See Traveling by train from Civitavecchia to Rome. The train leaves the station just before 8:00am, only five minutes late. Not a bad omen for the day.

Civitavecchia - train station


Civitavecchia - train station


Rome - Ostiense Station


Rome - Ostiense Station 


Our first destination: The Colosseum

About an hour later we get off at Roma Ostiense train station. From there we walk about four hundred meters to the metro station Piramide Cestia. We take the metro line B (direction Roma Termini). We take tickets from the machines. Two stops later we get off at the Colosseo stop.

It all takes less than a quarter of an hour until we join one of the queues in front of the Colosseum. We didn't pre-book online as we didn't know when we were going to arrive and we also wanted to avoid paying the booking fee. This takes time, but 30 minutes later we have our tickets and are allowed to enter the huge historic building.

Rome's Colosseum

Rome's Colosseum


The construction of the "Amphitheatrum Flavium" began in 73 AD. History reports that it was partially completed seven years later. The then largest amphitheater in the world offered space for 50.000 to 60.000 people. It is historically documented that at the beginning "naumachiae", deadly ancient sea battles, were re-enacted in the arena flooded with water. The two-story catacombs were probably added later. They are easy to spot. The basements contained dungeons, animal cages and rooms for technical equipment (hoists, ramps, counterweight devices, elevators). How all this worked together is difficult to imagine today.

Colosseum and Catacombs
The gallery of the Colosseum
The north facade of the Colosseum
Details of the Colosseum

We get a better overview of the arena from the gallery. From above, the unique dimensions of the Colosseum are revealed even more. In the northern area of ​​the building, the former four-storey, 49 m high facade is still partially preserved. The Palatine Hill, the Arch of Constantine and the Roman Forum are easy to see from above.

Our next destination: the Roman Forum

As we leave the Colosseum, hundreds of people are queuing at the cash registers. The waiting time has multiplied. We take the path to the Roman Forum.

On the way in the Roman Forum

On the way in the Roman Forum


First we pass the "Arch of Constantine" made of white marble. The triumphal arch, designed with three passages, is dedicated to the victory of Emperor Constantine over his rival Maxentius. The decisive battle took place at the Milvian Bridge leading over the Tiber. The arch was opened in 315. Its height is 21 meters.

Arch of Constantine


Arch of Constantine


Arch of Constantine - details


Arch of Constantine - details 


We go up Via di San Gregorio. After an estimated 200 meters, the side entrance to the Roman Forum opens. If you do not have the combined ticket for the Colosseum, the Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum, you can buy a ticket there. There are no queues.

What actually was the “Roman Forum”? According to today's interpretation, it was the center of Roman life. From the 7th century BC, the originally swampy area was incorporated into the city. At the height of the Roman Empire, many temples and secular buildings were built on the site.

After Rome's heyday, all its splendor faded away. Several earthquakes damaged the structure, and valuable building materials were used for other construction projects until the Renaissance period. St. Peter's Basilica as well as villas and other buildings led to an unimaginable loss of material. It takes a lot of imagination to imagine the original structure of the extensive area.

We're heading towards the Capitol further west. The "Arch of Titus" erected towards the end of the 1st century AD in honor of Emperor Titus is worth seeing. It was dedicated to him in memory of his victory over the rebels in Judea and the conquest of Jerusalem.

Capitol Hill


Capitol Hill


Arch of Titus - details


Arch of Titus - details 


Further to the right on the edge of the Roman Forum is the preserved aisle of the "Maxentius Basilica". The ancient hall construction began around 310 AD and was built on an area of ​​70 by 100 meters. It is believed that the nave of the building was 35 meters high. It is also assumed that the builders erected a cross vault instead of a beamed ceiling. The term basilica was used in ancient times to refer to assembly halls and courthouses.

Forum Romanum - aisle of the Maxentius basilica

Forum Romanum - aisle of the Maxentius basilica


We see the "Tempio di Romolo", the temple of Romulus. According to tradition, Emperor Maxentius had it built in memory of his son Romulus, who died in 309 AD. However, there are other interpretations of its origin. –

The building is octagonal. The dominant bronze door has been preserved in its original form. In the 6th century AD the temple was converted into the vestibule of a church. Only in 1947 did the temple regain its original form.

Temple of Romulus

Temple of Romulus


On our way, the "Palatin" towers up on the left; one of the seven hills of Rome. It was settled from the 10th century BC. In ancient times it was the preferred location for temple complexes, the villas of rich Romans and aristocrats and the residences of Roman emperors.

The Palatine Hill

The Palatine Hill


The palace complex "Domus Tiberiana" on the Palatine, which goes back to Emperor Tiberius, is striking. The arcades towering over the Roman Forum were built by order of Emperor Hadrian. Little is known about the building. It fell victim to a fire in 80 AD. Emperor Domitian had the palace complex rebuilt as part of a new magnificent building at a later date. The complex was finally transformed when the "Farnesian Gardens" were laid out on the Palatine Hill in the mid-16th century.

Domus Tiberiana


Domus Tiberiana


Domus Tiberiana


Domus Tiberiana 


On our way we pass the "Atrium Vestae", the residence of the priestesses of Vesta. They were the keepers of the sacred fire. They lacked nothing in the two-storey villa.

Atrium vestae


Atrium vestae


Atrium vestae


Atrium vestae 


In front of us are the remains of the "Temple of Saturn" at a distance. It was built below Capitol Hill in the 6th century BC. It was dedicated to Saturnus, the god of agriculture. The Roman state treasury, the tablets of the law and the decisions of the Senate were kept in an anteroom of the temple.

The Pillars of the Temple of Saturn

 

The Pillars of the Temple of Saturn


Further to the right is the "Curia". It was the meeting place of the Roman representatives with voting rights.

Roman Forum - the Curia
Roman Forum - Castor and Pollux Temple
Roman Forum - Antony and Faustina Temple
Roman Forum - Arco di Settimo Severo

The buildings mentioned are not the only remains in the Roman Forum; but probably the most well-known objects.

Our next destination: The Capitol

We spare ourselves the “Imperial Forums” located outside the ancient zone. Instead, we climb up to the Capitol. Notable buildings there are the "Capitoline Square" designed by Michelangelo, the "Palace of the Senators" (the former Roman town hall), the "Palace of Conservators" and the "Palazzo Nuovo". The center of the square is occupied by an equestrian statue of the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius. Sculptures of the horse tamers Castor and Pollux stand on the outside staircase leading down from the Capitol.

The Capitol Square
The Capitol Square - the Senator's Palace
The Capitol Square - the Conservator's Palace with Marcus Aurelius statue
Capitol Square - Pollux the Horse Tamer

From Capitoline Square we can see the triumphal arch erected on the Roman Forum in honor of Emperor Septimius Severus and his two sons. Very close in front of us - and towering over everything - is the 70 m high and 135 m wide national monument of Vittorio Emanuele II, the Altare della Patria.

Arch of Emperor Septimius Severus


Arch of Emperor Septimius Severus


National Monument of Vittorio Emanuele ll - Detail


National Monument of Vittorio Emanuele ll - Detail 


Visit to the Trastevere district

We leave the Capitoline Square and go down Via del Teatro di Marcello and go to the "Temple of Apollo Sosianus". The remains indicate a sanctuary built in the 4th century BC. A little later we cross the Tiber by means of the Ponte Fabricio.

Temple of Apollo Sosianus


Temple of Apollo Sosianus


Ponte Fabricio and Isola Tiberina


Ponte Fabricio and Isola Tiberina 


The Basilica di San Bartolomeo all'Isola is located on the narrow Tiber Island "Tiberina". In 2002, Pope John Paul II dedicated the church to the new martyrs of the 20th century.

San Bartolomeo all'Isola

San Bartolomeo all'Isola


One more bridge, the Ponte Cestio, and we are in the Trastevere district, the most popular district in Rome. We start from Piazza della Gensola. Old residential buildings, narrow streets, bars and restaurants and small shops characterize the district. We find the Via dei Salumi to be particularly typical of the district.

Trastevere district


Trastevere district


Trastevere District - Via dei Salumi


Trastevere District - Via dei Salumi 


We see the Piazza dei Mercanti as well as the church and monastery of Benedettine S. Cecilia. Shortly afterwards we hike along the banks of the Tiber. The busy road is called Porto di Ripa Grande. If you feel disturbed by the noise, go down to the shore. We use the waterfront. Then we cross the Tiber at the Ponte Sublicio.

Monastery Benedettine S. Cecilia


Monastery Benedettine S. Cecilia


The Tiber


The Tiber 


Coming from the Ponte Sublicio we follow the Via Marmorata until we reach the metro station Piramide again. The road stretches a little. But as the saying goes? "The route is the goal". From the Isola Tiberina to the Metro Piramide we walk more than two kilometers.

A pyramid in the Trastevere district

In front of the metro station Piramide is the "Porta San Paolo". In ancient times its name was "Porta Ostiensis". Consisting of two mighty twin towers and a connecting part, the building was the southern gate of the Aurelian Walls built in the 3rd century. It was at the beginning of the Via Ostiense, which connected Rome to Ostia's port.

Porta San Paolo

Porta San Paolo


There is actually a pyramid near Porta San Paolo and opposite the Piramide stop on metro line B. It was built between 18 and 12 BC as the tomb of Caius Cestius. Several inscriptions explain the building. One of the inscriptions states that it took only 330 days of construction to create it. That would be an unimaginable achievement for those times. After all, the square structure measures 29,50 meters on each side and 36,40 meters in height. The pyramid can be visited as part of guided tours on selected dates. A ten meter long corridor lined with bricks takes visitors inside the building and to the burial chamber. Its dimensions are 5,85 by 4 meters. Incidentally, the “Cimitero Acattolico”, the “cemetery of non-Catholics”, offers the best views of the pyramid of Cestius.

Pyramid of Caius Cestius


Pyramid of Caius Cestius


Pyramid of Caius Cestius


Pyramid of Caius Cestius 


We are leaving Rome

From the pyramid we walk in five minutes over to the Roma Ostiense train station. One of the regular trains of the Civitavecchia/Grosseto regional train line takes us back to Civitavecchia. A beautiful and informative stay in the metropolis of Rome comes to an end. In Civitavecchia, in the Piazza della Vita next to the promenade, the sculpture “Unconditional Surrender” awaits us. There are several copies of the group of figures worldwide. We saw a similar example in San Diego in California.  

Sculpture Unconditional Surrender

Sculpture Unconditional Surrender


The free shuttle buses, which bring the arriving individual tourists back to their ships, are waiting in front of the port area.

Update November 2022