Rome

Rome. The Eternal City. Five thousand years of matchless history. From Caesar to Mussolini and Audrey Hepburn, the amazing capital of Italy is almost cake rich cultural and scenic overkill. A splendid, stand alone city where the past and the present meet and mingle with the smart set, sipping early morning espresso in the cafes of Trastervere.

Check out the soaring basilica of St. Peter’s cathedral, with its impressive cupola and incredible, colonnaded courtyard by Bernini. Michelangelo’s sublime Sistine Chapel ceiling is also high on the list of platinum chip attractions on offer here.

And don’t miss the hulking, ruined grandeur of the Coliseum, where gladiators once fought to the death in front of thousands, and the eerie, silent expanse of the Forum, with its stunted Doric columns that still glint in the mid day sun. Here, Caesar met his bloody end at the hands of Brutus and Cassius.  Also nearby is the shell of the once infamous Circus Maximus, where chariot races once entertained thousands of the city’s platinum chip, toga clad citizenry.

The Pantheon is a cool, ordered study in ancient Roman magnificence; perfectly preserved, with marvellous acoustics and still garlanded with stunning frescoes, it is one of the must see sights.

The shopping here is world class in a city punctuated everywhere by monuments to its past like so many random exclamation marks. Try delicious, unbeatable Italian gelato as you sit on the famous Spanish Steps, or make a pit stop at world famous Trevi Fountain, and throw in your own coin.

Stroll along the tree shaded banks of the ancient River Tiber, where ornate, overly fussed bridges still loom across the meandering river. and you’ll see painters, mime artists and strolling musicians. Just be careful of the pick pockets in the same area as well.

You can also see the amazing summer palace of the medieval popes. The immense, looming bulk of Castel Sant’ Angelo still dominates the Roman skyline just as it did in the time of the Borgias

Rome is all of these amazing sights and sounds, and so much more. It’s a long, lazy dinner by the floodlit fountains of Piazza Navona, or some local vino under the plane trees at some trattoria tucked down a side street.

Getting around: Cruise ships dock in the town of Civitavecchia. The best way to Rome is the hour long train journey (make sure you leave the train at Rome Termini). It costs around 4 euros 50 cents. The station in Civitavecchia is an easy, twenty minute walk from the port entrance, or you could also take a taxi.

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