Showing posts from January, 2017

Civitavecchia, the Port of Rome

Ironically, cruising the Mediterranean proves quite strenuous, with ports to visit every day. After all, it took Odysseus quite a while to conquer the place. So it is always nice to find a place where you can hop off the boat and simply be. Civitavecchia proved such a place (as did Livorno, which I've written about previously). It is the main port for Rome, and most from the boat headed off for a whirlwind tour of the Eternal City. In the height of Summer. Exhausting. When in Rome, it's easy to forget how close it is to the sea (Ancient Rome was,  after all, a major trading port with a significant navy). Only 80 km away, Civitavecchia translates as 'ancient town'. Built over an Etruscan settlement - as is much of this area of Italy - the harbour was constructed by Trajan in the 2nd C AD. It became a Byzantine stronghold, was raided by Saracens, liberated by a pope, occupied by the French, survived bombing by the Allies in WWII, became a free port under Innocent III, and …

On Discovering a Painting by Vasari

The port of Livorno, Italy is a major stopping call for cruise ships, as it is only a few hours away form Florence. It is well worth defying those crowds which define Florence in a Tuscan summer and instead explore this seas-side town. Venice Nuovo (or New Venice) is an area of Livorno where the streets are, naturally, crisscrossed by canals. It was designed by Medici architects in an effort to create the prefect city. The canals linked the port to the warehouses, and many of the streets are lined with the houses of the nobility and important merchant families of the 17th and 18th C. Like its namesake, Venice Nuovo is a great place to simply wander. When exploring and the Tuscan sun become too hot, there is always a place for a coffee and a cool drink, a gelato, or something more substantial.