First time cruisers visiting the Mediterranean usually go all the way to Rome from the port in Civitavecchia in order to see the Vatican Museums . Pompeii is the ” must see” when their ship docks in Naples. They by-pass the fascinating city of Livorno traveling hours inland to Florence’s great museums and if their ship makes a stop in Genoa, they will stress out to see the Cinqueterre, ignoring the historic sights of Genoa.
For repeat visitors who have the chance to delve deeper and make a more leisurely visit to Italian ports, here is my personal list of the best small museums and historic sites to visit when docking in Civitavecchia. Other ports are mentioned on my blog 50 Years in Italy. Use the search bar to find the articles you are interested in.
Take time and enjoy a privileged look at how people lived in the past for many of the castles and palazzi are still private homes, often still lived in by the original families who welcome visitors.
These smaller museums and sites close to the port have art collections, original antique furnishings and can tell us a lot about how people lived in the past, and how many still live nowadays.
Here are my choices for cruise passengers docking for the day in Civitavecchia – The Port for Rome
More information about the area is available in “Etruria Travel, History and Itineraries in Central Italy ” (with map) and my latest book, in Italian, “Etruria Storie e Segreti”
Purchase your signed copy directly.
Check out this article about the scenic inland route from Civitavecchia
Tarquinia-Etruscan Museum , Palazzo Vitelleschi- Tarquinia is a medieval hill town located a short bus or taxi ride from Civitavecchia port. Its frescoed Etruscan tombs dating from 800 BC earned Tarquinia UNESCO heritage site status. The Museum is housed in a Renaissance palazzo in the city center while the painted tombs are located a short distance away. Copies of books are available in the Museum bookshop.
Check this site for more info on Tarquinia.
Vulci – Etruscan museum and excavation site of ancient Vulci . Walk across the arched bridge to the Castello della Badia, see the newly excavated tombs and the huge Francois Tomb with its magnificent frescoes.
Caprarola – Palazzo Farnese, about 1 hour drive inland from the port of Civitavecchia, this magnificent pentagon shaped palace was built for a Renaissance cardinal in the 1500s and lived in by an eccentric American family in the early 1900s. Today it wows visitors with its frescoed saloni and gardens.
Viterbo Villa Lante, Bagnaia a wonderful Renaissance garden with fountains and villas is beautiful by day and night . A prefered sketching site for artists, for those seeking a cool getaway during the hottest summer days . Read more about cool, romantic gardens on my blog.
Palazzo Ruspoli, Vignanello
One of the many private castles open to the public in the Tuscia Viterbo area. Several blog posts are dedicated to the family and happenings in Vignanello.
Castello di Bracciano,
Located overlooking Lake Bracciano, a favorite summer place for visitors and locals alike. Read about it here, on the blog, and in the book “Etruria Travel, History and Itineraries in Central Italy“.
See also Best House Museums in Cruise Ports on my blog 50yearsinItaly !