I’d like to think of myself as a seasoned cruiser – my very first cruise was at the ripe age of 4. That’s right, I was 4! Granted, I don’t remember much of it. I vaguely remember joining the kids club and the huge swimming pools. In the past 10 years, my family and I have been on 6 other cruises on a variety of cruise lines – Canada with Carnival, the Caribbean with Princess, and the Bahamas, Bermuda, and Hawaii with Norwegian. After exploring most of the options available to us with a US sailing departure point, we wanted to branch out for our next cruise.
After much research, we decided on the Norwegian Epic’s 7 day Western Mediterranean cruise. The Epic is unique because it picks up/drops off passengers in three ports – Barcelona, Spain; Civitavecchia, Rome; and Marseille, France. This means, if you’re embarking in Rome (like we did), other passengers that are already on the ship will have a port day – and vice versa for those embarking in Barcelona and Marseille.
In total, the Norwegian Epic stopped in 6 cities and 3 countries:
- Civitavecchia, Rome in Italy
- Livorno, Italy (within driving distance to Pisa and Florence)
- Naples, Italy
- Marseille, France
- Cannes, France
- Barcelona, Spain
Since only my mom had been to Italy before, we definitely wanted some time to explore Rome. Since our embarkation day was a Wednesday, we flew in Monday morning for some solo-Rome time. What did we do? Keep reading to find out!
Day 1: Monday
On our very first day in Rome, we arrived in the early afternoon (via Munich, Germany) and checked into our hotel, the Rome Times Hotel. We picked this hotel because it was very centrally located – walking distance from the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, the Colosseum, the Pantheon, and the Campo di Fiori area. We stayed in a mini-suite and the room was definitely large enough for three people. It was always clean and front-desk service was on point. I would definitely stay with the Rome Times again!
Our first stop after dropping off our luggage at the hotel was the Trevi Fountain. Everything you’ve read about it is true – there are a lot of tourists and it is difficult taking a picture. But, I would say it’s definitely worth it to stop by and admire the beauty of the fountain. Of course, remember to throw a coin in to ensure that you return to Rome someday!
After some shopping along Via del Corso, we made our way back to the fountain area and had a late lunch at L’Antico Forno di Fontana Trevi. You can order at the bar and have your coffee standing or to-go, or you can sit down and have a nice coffee break and people watch. We opted for the latter and had a delightful iced caffe latte, which I’ve been told is not authentic at all! But thanks to L’Antico for catering to our tourist coffee tastes!
Day 2: Tuesday
Our day started off bright and early at the Vatican for a guided tour. I highly suggest booking a tour for the Vatican and the Sistine Chapel. It really helped to have a guide explain the significance of the artwork or as we made our way through the museums and the chapel.
After the Vatican, we made our way over to the Pantheon, which is an ancient Roman temple that is now a church. Despite the fact that it was built over two thousand years ago, the Pantheon houses the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome.
Lunch was at the famous Armando Pantheon, which was completely booked by the time we arrived at opening time. They didn’t have any room for walk-ins at all! Be sure to go online to their website to make a reservation if you want to eat here! We were able to have beautiful buffalo mozzarella, cured meats, and amazing pasta dishes. Prices were very fair and the food was so delicious!
Post-lunch gelato was from Cremeria Monteforte, which was one of the best gelato’s that we had during our trip. Their vanilla cherry is to die for!
After dropping off our spoils of the day, we headed over to the Colosseum for a late afternoon stroll. Crowds are definitely thinner in the late afternoon hours – we were on line (with pre-purchased tickets) and inside within 20 minutes! Be sure to stop by the Roman Forum on your way out, as it’s included in the price of the Colosseum ticket. It was a bit surreal to be standing in the Colosseum, knowing that thousands of years ago, gladiators fought for their lives in the stadium.
After our stroll through the Roman Forum, we made our way over to dinner at Taverna di Quaranta, just a 15 minute walk away from the Colosseum. They offer delicious homemade pastas with very affordable house wines. The bruschetta is to die for! The oxtail pasta was very flavorful and tender, while the spicy ragu is quite delicious as well.
Day 3: Wednesday
Today was the day we would check-out and head over to Civitavecchia to board our cruise ship. Before we headed for the port, however, I wanted to check out the Campo de’ Fiori Market area, which is a great spot to purchase some pasta, spices, and olive oil to take home. It also has a lot of fresh produce for sale.
Located just off the market is Forno Campo de’ Fiori, open bright and early, and known for their delicious Roman style pizzas. Their pizza is very thin and eaten in a folded rectangle. They also have a lot of freshly baked cookies on sale as well. No eating room inside, so take your pizzas for the go! I highly recommend their focaccia sandwiches.
And that concludes our time in Rome – we had very little time, but I think we saw and ate a lot during our visit. I really, really loved Rome and hope (plan) to be back soon. There is so much more that I wish that I could’ve seen – like Trastevere, for example. Until next time, Rome!
Be sure to stay tuned for more highlights from my European adventure – many ports and many destinations to go!