Civitavecchia Things to See and Do
Top Things To See And Do In The Port City Of Civitavecchia
For tourists visiting Italy, Civitavecchia is a wonderful destination whether it’s for a day trip or an extended vacation. That’s because it is a port city located to the northwest of Rome that caters not only to the passengers on cruise ships pulling in for a brief visit, but also to people coming to stay in the city for a few days, weeks or more.
Civitavecchia’s location in Lazio, a central region of Italy, on the Tyrrhenian Sea means it enjoys a pleasant climate throughout the year. As a general guide, the coldest it ever gets there is about 7°C (about 45°F) and the warmest peaks at 27°C (about 80°F). That means there’s never a bad time to visit the city to explore all there is to see and do.
Among the many attractions are outdoor activities like spending the day on the beach or at a waterpark. Perhaps you want to experience the great food and drink that Italy is known for, including some of the best wine, pasta and seafood in the country. Or maybe you’re looking to explore interesting historic and religious landmarks.
Whatever the reason for visiting Civitavecchia, there’s plenty to see and do, so check out the guide below for some of the best things on offer.
- Stroll around the center of the old town
A great way to familiarize yourself with the city is to have a relaxed stroll around the center of what used to be the old port town. This area dates to Medieval times and has some of the most attractive architecture in Civitavecchia. You’ll find brightly colored buildings with centuries of history, painted in vibrant shades of orange, yellow and other hues. The focal point of the old town is Piazza Leandra, a public square with a gorgeous fountain and cobblestone pavement that’s great for taking postcard-perfect pictures. From Piazza Leandra you can easily get to all the other parts of the city.
- Wine and dine at locally owned restaurants
Italy is famous for delicious pasta, pizza and wine, and Civitavecchia does not disappoint. If it’s outstanding food and drink that you’re looking for, the city has a host of great places to choose from ranging from low-cost restaurants to higher-end and more-expensive find dining establishments. No matter which place you pick, you’re usually guaranteed a tasty meal served by locals. Don’t forget to order some seafood, because the city’s proximity to the water means that fresh catches are always on the menu.
- Admire the city’s religious past at the Cathédrale de Civitavecchia
Construction on the main cathedral in the city first started in 1610 but the building has been renovated and redeveloped over the years, most recently in 1950 when it had to be reconstructed following bomb damaged in World War II. The elegant building is designed in the neoclassical style, and is devoted to Saint Francis of Assisi, featuring a statue of the famous religious figure on its top floor. It’s free to enter and explore the cathedral, and inside you’ll also see beautiful paintings of scenes from the Bible as well as intricate decorative features on the walls, ceilings and elsewhere.
- Marvel at the Shrine of the Weeping Madonna
If you want to visit an unusual religious site and are willing to make a short journey outside of the city, consider using a rental car or taking a taxi to the suburb of Pantano. There you’ll find the Shrine of the Weeping Madonna, which is a plaster white statute of Mary, the mother of Jesus. This statue is only about 15 inches tall and was purchased from a souvenir shop in Bosnia before being transported to Pantano. The reason it’s famous is that in 1995 it’s said that the statue wept tears of blood. Some people think it’s an important site, some people think it’s a hoax. Whatever your belief it’s still an interesting curiosity to visit and remains a popular attraction for tourists.
- Splash around in the water at the Aquafelix Waterpark
Take advantage of the warm Mediterranean climate in Civitavecchia by enjoying a day splashing in the water at the Aquafelix Waterpark. This seasonal attraction typically opens in May at the start of the busy spring and summer period and closes in August, The park includes many slides, pools, and lazy rivers. It’s the perfect day out for families and groups of friends and can be a great way to stay cool when it’s particularly sunny. It’s a short drive from the city and ticket prices are not too expensive, with some discounts available for purchasing seasonal passes if you plan on more than one visit.
- Relax under the sun on the Il Pirgo beach
A free way to enjoy some sun and water during the good weather in Civitavecchia is to visit the beach. The most popular is called Il Pirgo and is located very close to the center of what used to be the Medieval old center of the town. It’s not a huge beach so it can get crowded during the most popular tourist months at the peak of summer, but even at its busiest you’ll usually be able to find space to set down a beach towel and relax — or you can rent sunbeds and umbrellas for shade for a small fee. Il Pirgo is also very close to several cafes and other places where you can get a snack or drink.
- Explore history at the Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Civitavecchia
History lovers should set aside time to visit the small but still fascinating Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Civitavecchia, which houses several displays of interesting artefacts from the city’s history. It is free to enter the museum and many of the archaeological items to see include explanatory signs written in both Italian and English. The museum is divided into two floors with well-organized exhibits that include ceramic bowls, busts and other sculptures, centuries-old pieces of art and more, giving a good glimpse into the long history of Civitavecchia.
- Take a picture by the water outside Fort Michelangelo
One of the most prominent architectural landmarks in Civitavecchia is the Fort Michelangelo, which sits on the waterfront by the port. It was originally designed as a defensive structure to protect the city against attackers centuries ago. These days it’s one of the first sights that passengers on cruise ships see as their voyages pull into port. The inside of the imposing stone facility is not open to visitors, but many people still visit to admire the outside and get a picture by the building. The immediate are surrounding the fort is pleasant to walk around, and there are also several cafes and other venues nearby where you can get refreshments after taking your pictures.
- Take a dip in the Terme della Ficoncella
A fun and somewhat unusual experience while visiting Civitavecchia is to visit the Terme della Ficoncella, which is an old spa facility with warm thermal baths. Originally used during the ancient Roman era, the water in the baths is sourced from a nearby spring and is said to have restorative powers. There are five baths in total that have different temperatures from cool to very warm. You can shower on site but will have to bring your own towels and robes as none are provided. The baths are very popular with locals and tourists alike, so expect crowds no matter what time you consider visiting.
- See a preserved ancient Roman site at the Taurine Baths
After spending some time relaxing in the warm and therapeutic waters of the still-operative Terme della Ficoncella, consider visiting the nearby Taurine Baths. This is a popular site where visitors can see the remains of what used to be a sprawling facility of pools, baths, and social meeting areas during ancient Roman times. Tourists can visit the site throughout the year from early morning to mid-afternoon, although it’s strictly an archaeological destination and water no longer flows to the baths here. But it’s still an interesting place to visit to learn more about Civitavecchia’s fascinating past.
- Sip some fine Italian wines on a trip to a vineyard
Given Italy’s strong reputation for producing some of the best wines in the world, many tourists coming to the country try to find time to visit a vineyard. There are no major wineries located in Civitavecchia, but it you are willing to either rent a car or hire a taxi then you can make a short drive to vineyards located near the city of Tarquinia and the town of Montefiascone, which both have wineries that are open to the public. There you’ll be able to see a working vineyard and try some locally made wines.
- Visit the centuries-old Fontana del Vanvitelli
A popular spot for tourists to take a picture is by the Fontana del Vanvitelli, a fountain that was built in the mid-1700s at the request of Pope Benedict XIV. It’s made from of type of limestone known as travertine and the centerpiece is a sculpture of a faun, which is a mythical half goat and half human creature from the ancient Roman era. Because the fountain is outside you can visit it for free at any time of the day.