Thursday, September 26, 2013

Noordam 2013 - Day 16: Disembarkation in Civitavecchia and the first day in Rome

Our last Noordam Eggs Benedict, French toasts and Waffles for a while. We were in group Brown 2 and around 8 am it was our turn to leave the ship. 

Civitavecchia Cruise Port

Our suitcases were already waiting for us. Our ride with Click Airport Transfer was scheduled at 9 am, but the driver arrived early. It was Sunday, so not very crowded at the highway to Rome. We asked the driver to stop at a Rome metro station so we could pick up our 3-day travel cards (Biglietto per 3 giorni BTI). He did not only stop, but showed Joost where the vending machines were. Great guy.

We will stay for three nights at the Crowne Plaza Roma San Piedro where we stayed two years ago. Bak then we were on the good side of the cruise, a few days in Rome before sailing with the Noordam. Our room at the hotel was already available, so we had a whole hour extra in Rome. Our room overlooks the pool, so that is a safe thought when the girls are swimming.

Crowne Plaza Rome

The hotel offers a shuttle to the city. We actually used it two years ago, when it was free. Now it is just as expensive as the public bus stat stops right outside the hotel. With the public bus we have a direct connection to two metro stations, to St. Peters square and to the northern part of the old Rome. So we thought that public transport is more flexible and got our BTI-tickets for three of us. Rhodé is young enough to travel free.

We took the bus to the city and got off just at the Tiber river on the other side of Castel Sant’Angelo. We crossed the Bridge of Angels (Ponte Sant'Angelo) that goes back as far as 134 AD. The angels are showing the Instruments of the Passion (like the cross, the crown of thorns, the holy sponge and many more).

Castel Sant’Angelo

Bridge to Castel Sant’Angelo

The Passetto as seen from Castel Sant’Angelo

Bridge over the Tiber

Bridge from Castel Sant’Angelo

The Castel itself is a maze with small rooms, steps and art. On our way up we saw the Passetto, the wall that runs from the Castel right to Vatican City. It provides an escape route for the Pope. Of course it also played a crucial role in the book and movie Angels and Demons, as did the Castel and a lot of other Rome sights. 

Inside Castel Sant’Angelo

Inside Castel Sant’Angelo

Inside Castel Sant’Angelo

Inside Castel Sant’Angelo

Inside Castel Sant’Angelo
On top of Castel Sant’Angelo

The absolute highlight for us was the view from the top. You can see all of Rome from the roof. We are so glad that we are going to be here for two more days. One short stop from Civitavecchia would have been way too short.

Vatican City from Castel Sant’Angelo

Vatican City from Castel Sant’Angelo

View of Rome from Castel Sant'Angelo

Panoramic view of Rome from Castel Sant'Angelo

After two hours in the Castel Sant’Angelo we were thirsty and hungry. No Lido buffet, but lots of restaurants in the city. We found a restaurant that looked nice at Piazza Risorgimento just north of The Vatican. Unfortunately the pizza had a hard bite and was way overpriced. We have to kick-off from cruise food that is inherently great. Better luck next time.

Tram 19 was waiting for us at Piazza Risorgimento. We took the tram up to the Galleria d’Arte Moderna and walked up the steps to the Borghese park. At the end of the park we once again had again a great view of the old city.

Borghese park

Kim at Borghese park

View from Borghese park

View from Borghese park

The park is a lot higher than the rest of the city (hence the tram). That led to another advantage. We did not have to climb up to the Spanish Steps that were close, but we walked down. A lot easier in the heat.

Spanish Steps

On the Via dei Bobuino we walked to Piazza del Popolo. We filled our water bottles in the public fountain. The water is drinking water so no risk there. We love Piazza del Popolo with the twin churches, the fountain and the obelisk. The famous Santa Maria del Poppolo was still closed, so we had a refreshing lemon drink (unfortunately not Napolitan Limoncella). Afterwards we could visit the church and the Chigi chapel.

Piazza del Popolo

Piazza del Popolo

We had a little trouble finding the bus stop to Piazza Risorgimento, but from the square it was a short walk to St. Peters Square. The girls had to wind their shawls around their legs because shorts are not allowed in St. Peters Basilica. We were prepared for that. St Peters Basilica is overwhelmingly great inside. It was Sunday, so not all corners of the Basilica were open to visit.

St Peters Basilica

 St Peters Basilica door

 Inside St Peters Basilica

 Inside St Peters Basilica

We went to check if the previous Pope was already named on the list of all Popes, but he wasn’t. Perhaps they do that only after his death and of course he is still a Vatican resident.

St Peters Square from the Basilica

After that we were quite exhausted. We went back to the hotel. The pool was still open, so Kim and Rhodé decided to cool off and swim. Afterwards we had our diner in the restaurant in the hotel. The restaurant had a piano man. He was good, but was not even close to the amazing Stryker at Noordam (that by now will be sailing away from Civitavecchia)…

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