Civitavecchia should never be seen as just a means to an end, although most people are indeed transiting through the city on the way to catch a ferry to Sardinia or Sicily or embark on a cruise. But even if you’ve got just a short time to spend, there are plenty of attractions to keep you occupied.
With a name that translates to “ancient town”, as you’d imagine, there’s a lot of history lurking beneath the streets and harbour of Civitavecchia. Of the city’s numerous churches of note, these three are well worth a visit.
The Church of Prayer and Death
With such an emotive name, this modest church has a lot to live up to. Dating back to 1685, the church is home to some important frescos by Knight Giuseppe Errante of Trapani and two large wooden statues depicting Christ Crucified and Christ Risen. The church features a large elliptical dome and its layout includes three altars and four chapels. It’s a place of genuine peace and tranquillity in this often-busy city.
The Cathedral of Saint Francis of Assisi
Situated in the main square of Civitavecchia, the Cathedral of Saint Francis of Assisi is the second church to be built on the site – the first was built in 1610 and the existing larger one in 1785. Large and imposing, the Cathedral is shaped by three symmetrical chapels on each side, a high vaulted ceiling and a triumphal arch. Statues of Hope and Justice and frescos by Nessi adorn the interior.
The Church of the Holy Japanese Saints
Yes, you read right! An Italian church dedicated to Japanese saints. The church is dedicated to Saint Pierbattistae and 25 others who died as martyrs in the Japanese city of Nagasaki. Dating back to 1864, the church was damaged in the war but was restored to even better than original, including the addition of some beautiful frescos by Lucas Hasegawa.
The Church of Vergine of the Graces
Also simply known as “the Star” this is the oldest church in Civitavecchia. Tucked away in Piazza Leandra, its simple façade and dim, mysterious interior protects the secrets of the highly important seat of the Arch Confraternity of the Banner (or Gonfalon), which was established in 1274. Inside, a weeping statue of the Virgin Mary holds pride of place.
Visiting a few of the city’s important historical religious buildings is a wonderful way to while away a lazy afternoon in Civitavecchia.
How to Get to Civitavecchia
At around 80kms from Rome, Civitavecchia enjoys excellent transport links as it is a main port for the embarkation of cruises as well as ferries to Sicily and Sardinia. A train from the centre of Rome will only take around 40 minutes and they run very regularly. For visitors flying into either Ciampino or Fiumicino airports in Rome who need Civitavecchia transfers for cruise or ferry connections, our shuttle services can get you there quickly and cheaply. For those driving themselves from other parts of Italy, rental car returns can be left at the port, and there are a number of regular buses from Rome that will also drop you at the port if you’re not staying in the city overnight.
Where to Stay
Hotel Samarcanda – Located in a convenient position, with a free shuttle bus to the train station and harbour, Hotel Samarcanda offers an affordable stay in Civitavecchia. With a fresh décor, air conditioned rooms and private bathrooms, there is also a pizzeria and an ice cream parlour on site. Just 10 minutes from the harbour, Hotel Samarcanda also offers free parking.
Hotel Porto di Roma – Situated in the heart of Civitavecchia’s old town, the Hotel Porto di Roma is just 450 metres from the harbour. Well positioned for local transport, the friendly staff can assist with any travel queries. Rooms have satellite TV and free Wi-Fi and the hotel is very close to shops, restaurants and just 10 minutes from the train station.
Hotel San Giorgio – Located on the seafront, the Hotel San Giorgio is perfectly situated for cruise passengers looking for upmarket, central accommodation. Rooms are elegantly decorated and have free Wi-Fi and satellite TV. There is a lovely roof garden, a beauty centre and an onsite restaurant serving local seafood specialities.