Monday, November 30, 2009


Yes, today's the day we begin our transatlantic cruise from Rome to Ft Lauderdale.  Because online internet connections are expensive (about 60ยข/minute in a package!), I won't be posting during the cruise, and probably not for a week or so after that.  Once we arrive in Ft. Lauderdale we'll spend a few days with our friend Nedra, then fly to Louisville.  On Friday the 18th we'll head off to N. Carolina for a long-overdue visit with our grandgirls, then get back to Louisville just in time for Christmas!  Whew!  I guess I'd really better relax and enjoy this cruise!

I'm setting up several posts in advance, mostly on the days we're in port.  I'll tell you a little about where we'll be, but remember, this information will only be what I've read in books or online - once we're finally settled I plan to write my own impressions and will include LOTS of photos (gotta make full use of that new camera!).

Our ship, the CELEBRITY SOLSTICE  will take us to a variety of ports, but we're leaving from Civitavecchia, which is the port city for Rome.  It's located about 80 km northwest of Rome, and has an interesting history all it's own. 
Civitavecchia means 'ancient city'.  The modern city was built over a pre-existing Etruscan settlement.  The harbor was constructed by the Emperor Trajan at the beginning of the 2nd century. The first occurrence of the name Centum Cellae is from a letter by Pliny the Younger (AD 107). The origin of the name is disputed: it has been suggested that it could refer to the centum ("hundred") halls of the villa of the emperor.

In the high Middle Ages, Centumcellae was a Byzantine stronghold. Captured by the Saracens in 828, it was later acquired by the Papal States.

The place became a free port under Pope Innocent XII in 1696. The main port of Rome in modern era, it was occupied by the French in 1849. On April 16, 1859 the Rome and Civitavecchia Rail Road was opened for service. The Papal troops opened the gates of the fortress to the Italian general Nino Bixio in 1870.

The massive Forte Michelangelo ("Michelangelo's fort") was first commissioned from Bramante by Pope Julius II, to defend the port of Rome, and was completed in 1535 by Giuliano Leno and Antonio da Sangallo the Younger, under Paul III. The upper part of the "maschio" tower, however, was designed by Michelangelo, whose name is generally applied to the fortress. The edifice, measuring 100 x 82 m, has four towers with a diameter of 21 m. The main tower, of octagonal shape, has sides of 12 m. The walls have an impressive thickness of 6-7.6 m. The fortress was built over an ancient Roman construction, probably the barracks of the classiarii ("mariners") of the Imperial Fleet.

Unfortunately we'll probably see very little of Civitavecchia itself, but maybe we'll get a nice overview from the ship, and a beautiful, twinkly night-time view as we set sail!

Tomorrow morning, (or probaly sometime tonight) we'll dock in Livorno, the port city for Florence and Pisa.

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At 11/30/2009 10:31:00 AM , Anonymous Jane said...

Barbara, this was quite interesting. Thanks for the history lesson and enjoy your 13 days of relaxation and peace. Eat well!


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