Sunday, June 10, 2012

Civitavecchia-Rome: the scenic inland route

aqueduct on the  scenic inland route 
Which  Italy would you rather  experience: the crowded highway  through Rome’s  outlying suburbs and factories or a leisurely  drive  through green hills, past aqueducts and Etruscan tombs, with stops in medieval hill towns to see how people live here in central Italy?

a local traffic jam

 This is the dilemma faced by some of the 2 million cruise passengers docking  annually at Civitavecchia who request information on travel  forums :

 “What is the best way to get  from Civitavecchia  port to  Rome?”  or, vice versa, from Rome to  the embarkation dock.

As a resident travel writer and consultant, I have treated the question before   and now that summer  is again fast approaching,  I want to remind  cruisers  of  an alternative route  between Rome and Civitavecchia, one that helps beat the summer heat.

Tarquinia's towers -just 10 minutes from the dock of Civitavecchia

S. Maria in Castello, Tarquinia

entrance to Duomo Museum, Viterbo

dolphin fountain,  Vetralla
  During the dozens of cruises and port excursions enjoyed as cruise lecturer in the past 6  12 years  I've noticed  that the highlight for most people is being  treated to a slice of real local living.

 You can only take so many organized tours, museums and archeological sites. 
To really understand a locale and a civilization, you must discover the markets, the homes, the local lore and food.

  Here in central Italy many cruises begin and end at my home port, Civitavecchia, one hour north of Rome.

The ships usually arrive in port very early  in the day and  departures are set for  afternoon, so  it makes sense to use the  arrival/departure day for leisurely exploring, gaining those important experiences of real  Italian life. This can be done by  taking  the inland route instead of the  highway to Rome.

Antonella, local Italian guide in Viterbo   
It only takes a  bit of planning to arrange for a private  driver or a rental  car   to take the scenic inland route passing  through the hill town of Tarquinia, a UNESCO world heritage site.

 From there, continue along Via Aurelia bis over the rolling green hills to Vetralla, a compact historical center which has been under the protection of the English crown since the days of Henry VIII.

Ruud and visitors at  Bomarzo's Sacro Bosco

Mercatello, before the bridge to Civita, the dying city

 Retirement-aged cruisers save money by renting a van with driver  to explore the inland scenic route from Civitavecchia to Rome. By avoiding  the highway, big cities and big city prices they also  get a chance to  see daily life. 
Bags safely stowed in the van, the passengers  can stroll through our  town on market day, visiting the shops, chatting with local people and  
at the market: local artichokes  

 ordering a slice of pizza  at the forno. 

Meet the locals:  Adriana cares for the flowers of her piazza, Vetralla

Ruud  shows visitors Tuscania 

Multi-lingual guide Ruud likes to show visitors  his hometown and how we live here. 
 Italy is not just about monuments, art and those who take the scenic inland route discover.
enjoying gelato and espresso

What could be better than sharing food, conversation and visiting the homes, gardens and castles of the people who live here? 

leisurely lunch in a private garden .....
.......or on the terrace   

Drop me a line or leave a comment if you wish to join  the long list of  universities, tour operators,  travel agents and cruise lines who have benefitted from our  local, on site  expertise.   

More information about the area  can be found in my books "Etruria Travel, History and Itineraries in Central Italy"  and 
"Etruria Storie e Segreti". Order directly  from the website  and pay with paypal.


  1. I can't say enough how much we enjoyed visiting these hill towns from Rome to Cicitavecchia.You get such a feel of how these people live their everyday life. Thank you so much Mary Jane for opening the door to such a wonderful experience.

  2. Thanks for your comment. I hope many other past visitors remember their time in our wonderful area.

  3. I came across your blog from a Google search "Tour Guide Regulations in Italy". I am in the process of becoming a travel agent and will be in Rome and Florence March 2013 for research and in prepaation for future tours. I would be interested in visiting the area and finding out if this could be a possible day trip for a group of 20-24 people. We are using public transportation or car hire. Also, any possiblity of a culinary tour or cooking class in the area?

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Dear Anonymous. I would be happy to answer all your questions, just email me at macryan at alice dot com.
    You can order my books about the area by clicking on the cover photo, up on the top left of the page. I mail them all over the world, but dont use amazon.

  6. Wonderful, useful info, thank you - I was lucky enough to live in this region for 5 months as a student and fall in love with the hospitality, beauty and spirit of the people and countryside of Tuscia!
    Mary Kay Meier, Cincinnati, Ohio

    1. Dear Mary Kay, thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. I hope you get a chance to return. WE'll be waiting for you ! Meanwhile, sign up (just leave your email where it says "FOLLOW by EMAIL) to get each and every note.