Santa Maria Antiqua – Byzantine church in the Roman Forum

Santa Maria Antiqua –
Byzantine church in the Roman Forum

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There is something new and wondrous waiting for you when visiting the Roman Forum until September 11, 206.

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For a limited time Santa Maria Antiqua, one of the earliest surviving ancient Byzantine churches that is considered the “Sistine Chapel of the Medieval Era”, is open to the public and it’s something that you don’t want to miss!

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(click PLAY to WATCH “Santa Maria Antiqua” Video)

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At the foot of Palatine Hill behind the Temple of Castor and Pollux is the 6th century Roman Catholic Marian church that was built within a massive 1st century AD Roman structure built by Roman Emperor Domitian.

 

This ancient structure served as a winding imperial ramp that connected the Roman Forum below with Palatine Hill above where the imperial palaces overlooked ancient Rome.

You can also access a portion of what remains of these ancient ramps – see the Visit Tips below.

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Santa Maria Antiqua Ancient Roman Structure

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By mid 6th century, this massives structure was transformed into a guard house that served to protect this very important imperial access.

 

Brick pillars were assembled to support a roof to cover the atrium space, and the walls were frescoed with Christian themes.

A couple of decades later, the guard house itself was transformed into a church that served the needy in the community through charity.  The previous brick pillars were replaced with granite columns, the porticos were converted into 2 sided isles, and a large apse was carved out of the existing brick wall.

 

For a duration of 3 centuries, the interior walls of this ancient Byzantine church were adorned with stunning mosaics, polychrome marble, and vibrant frescoes that were discovered superimposed over 7 layers as newer frescoes were painted over older frescos creating a palimpsest offering viewers a peek into the progression of early Medieval and Byzantine art.

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Santa Maria Antiqua Byzantine Icon

 

Due to an earthquake in the 9th century, Santa Maria Antiqua buried by rubble and sealed from the world more than 1,000 years until it was rediscovered in early 20th century.

 

Thanks to centuries of being sealed off from man, Santa Maria Antiqua was saved from the 8-9th century Byzantine iconoclasm and modifications during the Baroque and Counter-Reformation eras when many churches were altered.

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Santa Maria Antiqua Chapel of Theodotus

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Even though heavily damaged as a result of the earthquake a thousand years of neglect, following decades of extensive work to restore this ancient sanctuary, we can now admire the amazing early Christian Byzantine frescoes depicting the Virgin Mary with infant Jesus, saints, angels and martyrs adorn the walls of the sanctuary.

Digital representations of the church in its original condition play on a wide screen inside the church near the mosaic display. 

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Santa Maria Antiqua Digital Display

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Inside the Chapel of Theodotus, Chapel of the Medical Saints, and presbytery, you can enjoy digital projections on the walls depicting how the original frescoes looked a thousand years ago bringing to life the glory of this “Sistine Chapel” of the Medieval era.

 

From 1980 to 2012, the Santa Maria Antiqua church was closed to the public and access was limited only to scholars who applied for a special visit to study this ancient monument and its remarkable frescoes.  An extensive 2.7 million Euro conservation undertaking between the Archaeological Superintendency of Rome and the World Monuments Fund resulted in the phenomenal results that the public have the privilege to see for themselves for a limited time.

 

The sanctuary is open for public visitors from March 17 to September 11, 2016.


You can visit Santa Maria Antiqua inside the Roman Forum with a combination ticket valid for Roman Forum – Colosseum – Palatine Hill.  Tickets are currently 12 Euros per person purchased on arrival, or 14 Euros if purchased in advance online (to avoid ticket lines on arrival).

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If you wish to visit Santa Maria Antiqua church on our ROME IN A DAY TOURCHRISTIAN ROME TOUR,   or  VACANZE ROMANE TOUR,   please let us know so we can assist you with a visit to the Roman Forum from where you can access the sanctuary.

 

Helpful Tips on visiting Santa Maria Antiqua

 

  • When visiting the Roman Forum, please wear comfortable footwear suitable for uneven terrain.  Sandals, long heels, and flipflops are not recommended when visiting the Roman Forum.
  • To find Santa Maria Antiqua church, proceed to the Temple of Castor and Pollux towards the foot of Palatine Hill and look for posted signs directing you to the church.
  • For an informative visit, watch the digital reconstruction of the church video that plays continuously on a large screen on the right side wall near the Mosaic exhibition.
  • Don’t miss the spectacular digital projections on the walls  of the Chapels of Theodotus and Medical Saints. Text in Italian and English appear with details and descriptions.
  • Do not use flash when taking photos inside the church as flash photography is prohibited. Most importantly, camera flash damages the ancient and delicate frescoes on the walls. Prior to entering the church, adjust the settings on your cameras and turn off the automated flash.
  • Follow the “Belvedere” sign at the front end of the long wall with the saints mural, and turn right at the entrance. This tall passageway will lead you upward along the ancient imperial ramps, and you will arrive at a terrace for a gorgeous view of the Roman Forum below.
  • Avoid potential ticket lines by booking your Roman Forum / Palatine Hill / Colosseum combo ticket online in advance HERE:

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Santa Maria Antiqua Movie Screen

Roman Houses / Case Romane del Celio

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Buon giorno and welcome to Stefano Rome Tours Travel Blog!

Case Romane del Celio (Roman Houses on Celio Hill) is one the places featured on our Postcard Rome Tour for Cruisers.  Most of you have never heard of it.
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We’d like to introduce you to a magnificent place that will take you on an underground  journey through Ancient Roman complex of residential and commercial buildings where people once lived and worked, and have left behind stunning architecture, frescoes, and mosaics.

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Roman Houses / Case Romane del Celio

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Located below the Basilica of Saints John and Paul (Basilica di Santi Giovanni e Paolo) laid buried layers of ancient history that were not discovered until late 19th century.  

Paul and John were 2 Roman Christian soldiers and brothers who were martyred late 4th century AD during the reign of Emperor Julian the Apostate and buried in their house on Celian hill.  

The Basilica above was initially built at the start of 5th century AD initiated by Senator Pammachius – a wealthy Roman and prominent Christian, and likely the last owner of the residential complex upon which the church was built.

Case Romane is accessible from a street named Clivus Scauri, one of the most significant ancient Roman roads on Celian Hill, and the entrance was once the portico of Roman shops that were once located here.

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Clivus Scauri Case Romane Stefano Rome Tours

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By 2nd century AD, this area was occupied by a luxurious 2 level residential building ( a “domus”)  running parallel Clivus Scauri. By 3rd century, an apartment building (an insula) was erected with shops on the ground floor and apartments on the upper floors for the less well off.  

The apartments were accessed through the shops. In Ancient Rome, the upper floors were the least desirable as summers were very hot, winters very cold, no indoor plumbing that required going out to use public bath facilities, and the risks of fire from indoor cooking made it very dangerous if a lower level apartment caught fire and there was no escape for the upper levels dwellers. Often the shop owners lived on the floor above their ground level shops and further up the levels the cheaper the rent.

By the start of 4th century, a prominent wealthy figure purchased the domus and insula complex and integrated them into a large luxury residence.  If you go forward in time several decades, you’ll arrive at the time when the 2 brothers John and Paul lived here before they were martyred.

It was over this residence that the basilica was erected at the request of Senator Pammachius – possibly also the last owner of the residence.  Most of the Roman Houses were abandoned in order for the foundation of the church to be built on top, but some areas were still accessible over the centuries as indicated by a medieval oratory discovered there.

Basilica Santi Giovanni e Paolo

Basilica Santi Giovanni e Paolo

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Now that you know the history of the Roman Houses, here are the splendid rooms and spaces not to be missed on your visit. As you  make your way through the labyrinth of rooms and alleys, imagine what life must have been like for the former inhabitants of these houses nearly 2,000 years ago.

 

ROOM OF THE GENIUSES

 

Case Romane Room of Geniuses

Case Romane Room of Geniuses

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Upon visiting the Roman Houses you will enter into the Room of the Geniuses (or “geni” – Roman mythological divine spirits present in every living being and objects).  This space was originally a storage area transformed into an elegant space during the 3rd century.

The upper walls will instantly grab your attention  with two bands of beautiful paintings  of youthful winged nude figures (likely the geniuses), garlands of  flowers and fruit from the summer harvest.  In the band above grape vines meander among cupids and exotic birds.

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ROOM OF THE FAUX MARBLE

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Case Romane Room of the Faux Marble

Case Romane Room of the Faux Marble

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From here, you will enter the Room of the Faux Marble.  Marble was precious in the ancient times as it is today, and decorative marble inlaid into walls to create patterns of images (opus sectile) was sometimes imitated with paint.  

Altars and and Christian inscriptions found here indicates that religious activities occurred in these rooms even as recent as  late 19th century

 

ROOM OF THE ORANT
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Case Romane Room of the Orant

Case Romane Room of the Orant

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Perhaps the most ornate room is the vaulted Room of the Orant (Worshipper) based on the subject painted on the wall. The walls were painted during the 4th century, with figures of philosophers, mask of Slienius, a female theater mask, fantasy monsters, sheep and goats,

Acanthus leaves and faux alabaster opus sectile decorate the lower part of the walls.

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THE ORATORY

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Case Romane Oratory

Case Romane Oratory

 

By mid 4th century, a small chapel (a confessio) within an alcove was assembled where visiting pilgrims were able pray before the painted Christian scenes.

THE NYMPHAEUM OF PROSERPINA

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Case Romane Nympaheum

Case Romane Nympaheum

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The Nymphaeum of Proserpina was originally an interior open air courtyard that separated the residential buildings from the commercial ones. Niches, fountains, frescoes and mosaics are well preserved and quite remarkable.

The large late 3rd century AD fresco on the upper part of the wall depicts mythological scenes taking place at sea: nude cupids fishing or sailing, a large barge in the center with 2 reclining female figures – one draped in cloaks and one semi nude, a nearby male figure pouring the ladies a drink.

Interpretations of this scenes vary with one version calling the reclining semi nude female Venus, the Roman mythological goddess who was born from sea foam and often depicted on a half shell at sea. The other version interprets the female as Proserpina – the Roman goddess associated  with the underworld, joined by her mother Ceres and Bacchus (the wine god).

If you look down you will notice the original floor made of multi colored marble pieces.  

In an adjacent alcove, you can admire the black and white tile floor with geometrical and floral motifs.

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ANTIQUARIUM

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Case Romane Antiquarium

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Last but not least is the Antiquarium – the museum where the ancient Roman and medieval artifacts excavated on this site are on display.

Located right below the Chapel of Saint Paul of the Cross, the museum is in the shape of a Greek cross.

Here you will find a myriad of objects excavated between 1887  and 1936: ancient 1st -7th century AD amphorae (elongated terracotta jugs used to transport liquid and dry products), tableware, sewing needles and thread spools, oil lamps, sculptures, and among other precious items a large 12th century fresco of Christ between saints John and Paul.

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This marks the end of your visit through time and through the ancient Roman Houses.

Be sure to also visit the Basilica of Saints John and Paul, it has a magnificent interior reminiscent of a early 20th century ballroom with its chandeliers. No wonder it’s a popular church of wedding events.

 

VISITOR HOURS:

10 AM – 1:00 PM then 3:00 PM – 6:00 PM

Closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays
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TICKETS:

Adult price: 8 Euros

Children 12-18 years old: 6 Euros per person

Children up to 12 years old accompanied by adult: FREE

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For more information on our POSTCARD ROME TOUR FOR CRUISERS that includes a visit to the Roman Houses, please CLICK HERE.

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Postcard Rome Tour for Cruises by Stefano Rome Tours

Postcard Rome Tour for Cruises by Stefano Rome Tours

 

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Thank you very much for reading our blog, and for choosing Stefano Rome Tours for your Day Tours and Shore Excursions in Italy.

 

The Stefano Rome Tours Team

www.StefanoRomeTours.com

 

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Fun and Useful Blog Posts by RomeCabs

Buon giorno and welcome to Stefano Rome Tours, Rome’s leading company for private Day Tours and Shore Excursions from Civitavecchia, Livorno and Naples.

This travel blog is dedicated to all the great things that make Italy one of the world’s greatest travel destinations.

In this article we’d like to introduce you to some interesting travel articles from our sister company RomeCabs as featured on their travel blogs.

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VIDEO POSTCARDS FROM ROMECABS

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RomeCabs has launched a weekly series of Video Postcards featuring places in Rome and throughout Italy where RomeCabs offers tours.

Each Video Postcard is 30 seconds long set to fun and lively tunes, giving you a morsel of the great beauties of Italy.

CLICK HERE to enjoy more Video Postcards from RomeCabs with a description of each place featured in the video postcard.

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How The Train Ruined the Cruise for Thousands of Cruisers

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Italy has quite an extensive train system that travelers can use to access many popular destinations in Italy from Rome. One of these popular destinations is Civitavecchia, the cruise port of Rome located about 1.5 hours away.

The commuter train that runs about every 30 minutes (less on Sundays and bank holidays)  is the usual means to travel between Rome’s Termini Station and Civitavecchia Train Station  (the 2 endpoints for this commuter train route).

Under the assumption that the train is an easy and cheap transportation alternative between Rome and Civitavecchia, many cruisers opt for what would appear to be a convenient, reliable and inexpensive mode way to travel between Rome and Civitavecchia.

At  5 Euros per person it’s very inexpensive indeed.

But easy, convenient AND reliable?

Thousands of cruisers left stranded did NOT find it reliable.
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CLICK TO FIND OUT WHAT HAPPENED
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HOW THE TRAIN RUINED THE CRUISE

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Traveling to Italy this Summer?

Don’t Forget to Bring THESE Things With You!
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Summer is the most popular time of the year when millions of visitors worldwide travel to Italy on their summer vacations. While many travelers choose to travel light (with less luggage) for convenience and since summer clothing take up little space, there are a few things that you must bring with.

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Click to FIND OUT MORE
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TRAVELING TO ITALY THIS SUMMER.

TOP 10 MUST SEE PLACES IN ROME PHOTO GALLERY

 

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Rome is a treasure trove of  thousands of years worth of history, architecture, beauty and charm that a lifetime is not long enough to discover all of Rome’s ancient secrets and hidden treasures.

The Eternal City has amassed a vast number of things to see and do during its extensive 2,700 years of history.  

And with so little time to see and do everything on your visit to Rome, you don’t miss some of the most exciting sites that make Rome one of the world’s most visited cities and top travel destinations.

CLICK TO SEE  GALLERY

10 MUST SEE PLACES IN ROME PHOTO GALLERY

How To Get From Fiumicino to Civitavecchia in 3 Easy Steps

Whether you are Flying in Rome pre cruise or departing from Rome post cruise, chances are you will need a transfer from Fiumicino to Civitavecchia, or from Civitavecchia to Fiumicino Airport.

This RomeCabs Trave Article shows you how to get from Fiumicino to Civitavecchia in 3 Easy Steps.

CLICK TO FIND OUT MORE

HOW TO GET FROM FIUMICINO TO CIVITAVECCHIA IN 3 EASY STEPS with romecabs

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Thank you very much for visiting our blog.

For more information on Day Tours and Shore Excursions, please visit us at www.StefanoRomeTours.com

For more information about RomeCabs, please visit www.RomeCabs.com

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We look forward to seeing you in Italy!

Stefano Rome Tours Team

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RomeCabs Transfers and Tours

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Odescalchi Castle in Bracciano – Tour Tips

The majestic Castello Orsini – Odescalchi in Bracciano is a popular Stefano Rome Tours “Castles and Lakes” Tours and Shore Excursions from Civitavecchia, as well as “Pre-Cruise Countryside Tour”.

 

Overlooking the pristine volcanic Bracciano Lake, the 15th century Castello Orsini-Odescalchi (also commonly known as Bracciano Castle) is one of the largest and best preserved castles in Italy as well an excellent example of Renaissance military fortress. The castle underwent many renovations since its earliest history that goes as far back as the 10th century when it was referenced to as one of the many defense towers.

The castle we see today was built between 1470 – 1485 by Napoleone Orsini and his son Gentile Virginio of the powerful Orsini family, thus enlarging the previous fortification. Their coat of arms and symbol, the bear (orso means bear in Italian) can still be seen throughout the interior of the castle.

The magnificent structure withstood repeated attacks by armies of members of the Borgia family.  In 1696 the castle was sold to Livio Odescalchi, and inspite of centuries of tumultuous history, the Odescalchi family is still the owner of the castle and since 1952 it has been opened to the public as a historical museum by Prince Livio Odescalchi IV.

Currently, this enchanting castle also hosts high profile weddings (such as the wedding of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes), cultural events, conferences, concerts, and exhibitions.

 

To visit the Bracciano Castle you have 2 options:

 

1. Self Tour (you can visit the castle on your own with purchased entry tickets)

2. Private Guided Tour. For a more insightful guided visit, Bracciano Castle offers private tours (also in English) with advance reservation.  We highly recommend this option.

The price for the guided tour also includes the entry tickets for you and your travel companions. This is a great value as a personal guide provides in depth information about the castle, it’s history, and secrets that only a knowledgeable private tour guide can reveal.

For our clients who book our tours that include visits to the Bracciano Castle, we reserve the private tour guide on behalf of our clients and take care of the details.

For those who wish to self tour Bracciano Castle, here is a guideline to help you prepare for your visit.

Bracciano Castle Tickets and Entrance:

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Bracciano Castle Ticket Office and Entry Gate

Bracciano Castle Ticket Office and Entry Gate

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The ticket office is just next to the entrance gates.

Entry tickets are 8.50 Euros per person (*). You can ask the ticket office for a map to assist you on your exploration.

However, it’s also possible to easily make your way through the castle by just following the signs.

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Tips on Visiting Bracciano Castle on your own:

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The iron gate will automatically open to allow you to enter castle property.

 

Bracciano Castle / Castello Orsini - Odescalchi

Bracciano Castle / Castello Orsini – Odescalchi

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Soon after you enter, you will veer right and pass through the majestic archway that will lead you along an avenue towards the large medieval wooden entrance doors located on the tower at the far end of the imposing castle wall.

As you approach the doors, don’t forget to turn around and catch a glimpse of the glorious view of the countryside behind you and the smaller building covered with ivy that served as a stable and granary.

 

Bracciano Castle / Castello Orsini - Odescalchi

Bracciano Castle / Castello Orsini – Odescalchi

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Once you step through the imposing doors into the entrance hall, take a moment to look around a bit.

Next to the stairway to your right you will notice a stone pillar topped with a sculpture of a bear onto which a shield is resting. These are the symbols of the Orsini Family.

Near it, a great hall with arched stone ceiling that leads to a series of other rooms in the distance will surely transport you centuries back to distant times of feudal lords, fair ladies, and knights dressed in armor.

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Bracciano Castle / Castello Orsini - Odescalchi Visit Signs and Posted Information

Bracciano Castle / Castello Orsini – Odescalchi Visit Signs and Posted Information

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Along your journey through the castle, look for posted signs guiding you on your visit route.

The areas you cannot enter will be sealed off. It’s very easy to make your way through the castle following the arrows and signs.

Magnificent rooms fit for kings, lords, and popes

 

A visit through this magnificent castle will take you through 2 stories of rooms filled with stunning collections of original furniture, precious works of art, ancient weapons, books and decorations from the medieval and renaissance eras that defined this historic fortress when lords once ruled.

Exquisite decorations, richly colored fabrics and tapestries, elaborate ceilings, frescoes and friezes will give you a glimpse into the private quarters of lords, ladies, kings and popes who once lived or were guests within these elegant walls.

The large spacious rooms are lined up like train cars, and as you walk you will pass from room to room.

Posted on walls next to the doorways, are white sheets of paper with information about the room in various languages.

As you reach the last room at the end of first floor, you will find yourself in the private quarters of Isabella de’ Medici (daughter of Cosimo I, Grand Duke of Tuscany).

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Bracciano Castle / Castello Orsini - Odescalchi

Room of Isabella de Medici and posted Visit Sign to follow

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From here, walk through the open doorway next to the bed (follow the posted Visit sign), which will take you up a spiral stairway to the next floor.  On this upper floor you will pass through many other fabulous rooms.

 

Rooms not to be missed inside the Orsini-Odescalchi Castle

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All of the rooms you will walk through are phenomenal, but here are some of the rooms that you should pay special attention to.

 1st Floor:

 

Bracciano Castle / Castello Orsini - Odescalchi

Bracciano Castle / Castello Orsini – Odescalchi

 

Sala Papalina (The Papal Room) – This will be one of the first rooms you will enter, and it hosted Pope Sixtus IV in 1481 when he fled Rome to escape a plague. Look up and admire the finely decorated ceiling.

Sala Umberto (Umberto’s Room) – Italy’s King Umberto lived here in 1900. The opulent furnishings are original from the 16th century.

Sala dei Cesari (Room of the Caesars) – This large elegant room is noted for the busts of the Twelve Caesars.

Sala Orsini (Room of the Orsini) – In the memory of the Orsini family, a painting of the family coat of arms hangs on the wall.

Sala di Isabella (Isabella’s Room) – This room, while beautiful and luxurious, has a deeply macabre history, which you will read about on the sign posted on the wall.

 

2nd Floor:

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Bracciano Castle / Castello Orsini - Odescalchi

Bracciano Castle / Castello Orsini – Odescalchi

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Sala Gotica (Gothic Room) – While passing through this room, don’t miss the wooden throne and commode used by princes and popes.

Sala di Ercole (Hercules Room) – Look up and admire the beautiful frieze of frescoes depicting the Twelve Labors of Hercules. Also featured in this room is an assembly of cannons and guns along with 14th century weapons.

Sala delle Armi (Room of the Weapons) – In this room fit for warriors, you will find a fascinating collection of weaponry from 15th-17th centuries including spears, swords, halberds, and armor worn by knights and for equestrian tournaments.

 

Bracciano Castle’s Walkways, Courtyards, and Panoramas

 

Bracciano Castle / Castello Orsini - Odescalchi

Views from Bracciano Castle / Castello Orsini – Odescalchi

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As you exit the rooms into the arched loggia, your visit will continue through the castle courtyard where you will have the opportunity to enjoy some breathtaking vistas of Lake Bracciano from the fortress walkways that connect the 5 towers. Once patrolled by soldiers, these walkways were part of Bracciano Castle’s defense system…now, they provide visitors the opportunity to enjoy splendid views of the lake and countryside.

 

Bracciano Castle / Castello Orsini - Odescalchi

Bracciano Castle / Castello Orsini – Odescalchi Court of Honor and Medieval Kitchen

 

Below in the courtyard you will find the spacious Court of Honor, a square that holds an irregular triangular shape. While here, be sure to visit the large ancient kitchen equipped with 4 large fireplaces for cooking and antique copper pans hanging on the walls. It will make you dream of sumptuous feasts prepared here for extravagant Renaissance era receptions.

 

This marks the end of your tour through this enchanting castle as you walked in the footsteps of many of Italy’s most distinguished historical figures.

To exit, just follow the sign that will point you down the flight of stairs that will take you to the same entryway from where you arrived – you will see the Orsini bear sculpture at the base of the stairway as you descend.

Make your way out of the castle, and back back to the gates which will automatically open to let you exit the premises.

 

(*) Prices of tickets and tours are subject to change unexpected. Information is updated as quickly as obtained.

If you booked our  Castles and Lakes Tour,  Shore Excursion from Civitavecchia, Post Cruise tour, or Pre-Crusie Countryside Tour,  please email us for more information on booking a private tour guide to visit the Bracciano Castle.

Everyone else may contact the Bracciano Castle ticket office directly for more information: http://www.odescalchi.it/

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Bracciano Castle / Castello Orsini - Odescalchi

Bracciano Castle / Castello Orsini – Odescalchi

 

Is The Holy Grail in Rome? Unsolved Mysteries

There is nothing sought after more than the Holy Grail (the name itself has become synonymous with something sacred and elusive).
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Through Arthurian legends, Knights Templar and Medieval folklore, this Holy Chalice inspired conspiracy theories and modern interpretations evident in films, novels and psychology.
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 But does the Holy Grail really exist?
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And if the Holy Grail does exist, where is it?
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Archaeologist Alfredo M.Barbagallo who heads an association called Arte e Mistero (Art and Mystery) believes the Holy Grail lies beneath the Basilica of San Lorenzo Fuori le Mura, one of the seven pilgrim churches in Rome.
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According to Christian tradition, Pope Sixtus V reportedly entrusted the treasures of the early Church to Lorenzo, one of the seven deacons of Ancient Rome. Lorenzo was martyred four days later during the persecution of Emperor Valerian in 258 AD and the Grail was never seen again.
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San Lorenzo Basilica

San Lorenzo Basilica

.While other legends claim Lorenzo sent the Holy Grail to his parents in northern Aragon, Barbagallo insists the Grail never left Rome and it remained on the site of the saint’s tomb upon which Emperor Costantine built a shrine in 4th century, and a century later the main portion of the Basilica of San Lorenzo Fuori le Mura was built on the exact spot.

However, until the catacombs are authorized by Rome to be opened and examined, we will never know if Bargallo’s Holy Grail theory is correct.

 

For more photos of Basilica of San Lorenzo, visit our Flickr Photo Gallery

 

Do you have any unique church or Holy Grail stories to share? Share your stories in the comments box below. We’d love to hear from you!

Sharing is fun! If you found this article helpful, please pass it along to anyone who might benefit from it.

Thank you for reading this blog. We look forward to seeing you soon in Italy!

~The Stefano Rome Tours Team
 
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Tivoli – Hadrian’s Villa and Villa d’Este Tour with Stefano Rome Tours

 Whether a Shore Excursion from the port of Civitavecchia, or a Day Trip from Rome, you will enjoy an unforgettable day through the countryside of Lazio to Tivoli and visit the stunning Villa D’Este and Hadrian’s Villa in the comfort of your own private deluxe vehicle driven by a Stefano Rome Tours knowledgeable English speaking Driver eager to help you create memories you’ll cherish for life. 

 

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This popular day tour allows you to visit and compare two very splendid villas from two different ages.  Hadrian’s Villa (Villa Adriana) dates back to Ancient Rome and Villa D’Este from the Renaissance period. Both Hadrian’s Villa and Villa d’Este are listed as UNESCO Heritage Sites.
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HADRIAN’S VILLA  / VILLA ADRIANA

Your first stop will be a visit to the ruins of Hadrian’s Villa (Villa Adriana) which can only hint at the grandeur and beauty of this villa built by Emperor Hadrian to remind him of the monuments and sites he admired during his travels around the 4 corners of the Roman Empire.

This once vast complex was comprised of over 30 buildings, including the imperial palace, baths, theaters, temples, libraries, pools, gardens, and more. It was so self sufficient that the Emperor is known to have ruled the entire Roman Empire from this very residence. The site is very spacious, and you can admire the architecture from the distance as well as close-up as you explore the ruins of this Imperial residence.

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VILLA D’ESTE

From here you will continue your tour to Villa D’Este, built by the cardinal Ippolito D’Este. This elegant villa adorned with frescos is considered one of the most beautiful residences of the Renaissance.

The Villa’s countless fountains, set in the heart of magnificent Italian style gardens, create a delightfully graceful symphony of carved stone, shade, sunlight and water coming directly from the Aniene River. Strolling through these elegant gardens is a most relaxing, peaceful and awe inspiring experience.

No trip to Italy should exclude these beautiful villas that not only offer a glimpse into two distant yet significant eras of Italy’s past, but the visit is a pleasant respite from the hustle and bustle of Rome.

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For more information on this and many other exciting tours and shore excursions, as well as airport and port transfers, travel blogs with lots of uselful travel tips and information, photo gallery, reviews of our services and more, please visit us at www.StefanoRomeTours.com  And don’t forget to also join us on twitter and Face Book and share your travel adventures with other like minded travelers.

AIRPORT and PORT TRANFSERS IN ROME

If while in Rome you are in need of chauffeured transportation from Rome Fiumicino Airport (FCO) to Rome,  Rome or Fiumicino Airport to Civitavecchia and vice versa, please visit our sister company Rome Cabs Limousine Car Service Company at www.RomeCabs.com for all your transfer needs.

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Thank you for choosing Stefano Rome Tours for your Tours and Shore Excursions.  We look forward to hearing from you and seeing you soon in Italy!

 

Montepulciano and Pienza – Tuscany Day Tour with Stefano Rome Tours

This exciting Stefano Rome Tours excursion blends the celebrated flavors and the breathtaking vistas of Tuscany to create an unforgettable experience in Italy. From  exceptional Vino Nobile in Montepulciano and world renown pecorino of Pienza, to stunning Valleys of Orcia and Chiana and a splendid Renaissance Utopian City…this exciting enogastronomic tour through Tuscany will delight all your senses!

 

 

 

The tour begins with a relaxing and leisurely drive into the scenic Southern Tuscany, and through this magical region of Italy as we make our way to Montepulciano.

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MONTEPULCIANO – The King of All Wines

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Perfectly located between the stunning Val di Chiana (Valley of Chiana) and Val d’Orcia (Valley of Orcia), Montepulciano is Tuscany at its best. Pedestrian friendly medieval lanes will lead you to many of Montepulciano’s treasures: imposing architecture, famous piazzas, local artisan shops, gastronomic boutiques, enoteche and wine cellars with ample opportunities for wine tastings. A stroll to the edge of town’s outer walls will reward you with a most spectacular panorama of the exceptional beauty of the Tuscan countryside.

Italians’ passion for food and wine are particularly strong in Tuscan kitchens and wineries. After a delicious lunch in town, a visit to the region’s best wineries will follow where you can taste the local wines and also the different products made by them.

Tuscany is world renown for its exceptional wines, but “Montepulciano is King of all wines” .  The noble wine of Montepulciano, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, is one of Tuscany’s classic red that has been a favorite among the aristocracy and royalty ever since Lorenzo de Medici in the 15th century.

 

PIENZA – The ideal Renaissance Utopian City

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From here we continue our enogastronomic tour with a drive through rural Tuscany to our next destination, Pienza, a remarkable Renaissance utopia that revolutionized city planning and earned the prestigious honor of being a UNESCO World Heritage site, The breathtaking Valley of Orchia is  worthy of its own place on the list of UNESCO’s World Cultural Landscapes.

Pienza got its name from Pope Pius II, the homegrown pope who transformed the existing village of Corsignano into his vision of the ultimate 15th century Renaissance “utopian city” where humanistic concepts were applied for the first time to create a model of ideal urban living, a plan that inspired its implementation to other Italian as well as European cities.

Enchanting views of Val d’Orcia beyond the stone city walls, narrow romantic streets with names like Via dell’Amore (Street of Love) and Via dell Baccio (Street of the Kiss),  and medieval nooks and crannies that reveal local treasures within its shops and boutiques, makes this tiny hilltop town an idyllic setting for a stroll.

But for those with a discerning palate for gastronomic delights, Pienza’s other claim to fame is their production of the finest pecorino cheese in Italy.

From soft and buttery fresh pecorino (pecorino fresco), to pecorino aged in various coatings and mixed with different subtle flavors  (pecorino stagionato), you will be pleased to discover these distinct traditional flavors at the many locally owned gastronomic boutiques throughout Pienza.

From here we will make our way through the Tuscan countryside again as you sit back, relax, and enjoy the comfortable ride back to the Eternal City of Rome where your professional driver will drop you off at the hotel.

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Tuscany charms you with its many impressive historic towns, satisfies you with sumptuous local dishes and wine, and enchants you with evocative vistas that make the journey as memorable as the destinations you arrive at.

For more information on this and many other exciting tours, please visit us at www.StefanoRomeTours.com. Or, you can email us at info@StefanoRomeTours.com. We’d love to hear from you!

We thank you for choosing Stefano Rome Tours for your guided tours in Rome and beyond, we look forward to seeing you in Italy!

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Travel + Leisure Vacanze Romane / Roman Holiday Article

Travel + Leisure

 

World’s Greatest Dream Trips: Vacanze Romane Tour

 

 

 

 

 

Roman Holiday - Vacanze Romane Tour of Rome

Roman Holiday – Vacanze Romane Tour of Rome

 

Buon giorno!

We at Stefano Rome Tours are pleased and honored that we were mentioned and our tour “VACANZE ROMANE” was recommended by Travel + Leisure Magazine in its October 2013 issue in their “Word’s Greatest Dream Trips” article featuring “Roman Holiday” theme visit.

On our tour, you have the opportunity to be the star of your own Roman Holiday with visits to the iconic sites featured in the movie such as: the Colosseum,  Capitoline Hill, Mouth of Truth, Castle Sant’Angelo, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Via Margutta and the Pantheon.

You will also drive by famous places such as Piazza Venezia where you will see the magnificent white marble monument to Italy’s King Vittorio Emanuele II, Teatro Marcello, and Palazzo Barberini.

 

Click on the article photo to read the article on the Travel + Leisure webpage.

To learn more about VACANZE ROMANE / Roman Holiday tour and shore excursion, please click on the image below.

 

 

Vacanze Romane tour with Stefano Rome Tours

Vacanze Romane Tour with Stefano Rome Tours

 

 

 

 

Banditaccia Etruscan Necropolis in Cerveteri: Ancient Tombs meet Modern Technology

Our popular Castles and Lakes Tour and Shore Excursion from Civitavecchia has just gotten even more exciting, thanks to an innovative project set forth as part of Lazio’s Cultural Heritage Technology District with the cooperation of the Archaeological Superintendence of Southern Etruria.

 

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On this visit to the ancient Etruscan necropolis of Banditaccia in Cerveteri, you will experience something never before possible in this city of the dead. As you descend into stone-carved tombs, the dark and eerie chambers suddenly come to life to reveal their ancient secrets to you.  An ancient civilization and modern technology merge to bring forth a remarkable experience that brings dormant history to life. Vibrant displays of light and color reconstruct how some of the tombs appeared two thousand years ago before time and elements stripped them of their beauty, and its precious contents carted off to museums. Riveting narratives (in both English and Italian) tell fascinating stories of things unknown while sounds and visual effects propel you into the mysterious world of the Etruscans who once lived and died here more than two thousand years ago!

Banditaccia Tomb in Cerveteri

Banditaccia Tomb in Cerveteri

Sala Mengarelli
Your first stop is at the Sala Mengarelli, where a introduction documentary video welcomes you with a historic background of the Necropolis and its incredible treasures. The second part of this brief educational documentary focuses on incredible findings in the necropolis and is shown in 3-D. Inside the theater room are also a large projection of the geological and morphological history of the necropolis, and large scale model of a burial mound as seen in the necropolis.

There are 7 tombs that you can visit that are enhanced with Audio and Light, or Audio, Light and Video.

 

Banditaccia Tomb in Cerveteri

Banditaccia Tomb in Cerveteri

In the Audio, Light and Video Tombs, the added benefit of the video projected directly on the stone provides a more theatrical experience. Light beams outline the edges of doorways and furnishing, while reconstructing missing pieces and revealing them with colors that have long faded away. Flickering candles, funeral processions, vases and other precious offerings that were once part of the tomb are beautifully projected onto the stones in tune with the narration. You are wrapped in a multi sensory visit into an ancient era of this city of the dead.

Banditaccia Tomb in Cerveteri

Banditaccia Tomb in Cerveteri

In the Audio and Light Tombs, a narrative explains the story of the tomb, its furnishing, and significance, with spotlights of warm light to accentuate the areas of the tomb being discussed.

Here is a list of the Tombs that provide this multi media enhanced experience.

Audio, Light and Video

Tomb of the Greek Vases (Tomba dei Vasi Greci)
Tomb of the Cornice (Tomba della Cornice)
Tomb of the Pilaster (Tomba del Pilastro)

Audio and Light

Tomb of the Doli (Tomba dei Doli)
Tomb of the Hut (Tomba della Capanna)
Tomb of the Funeral Beds (Tomba dei Letti Funebri)
Tomb of the Capitals (Tomba dei Capitelli)

During your visit, all the other tombs that are open to the public can be visited as well.

For more information on visiting the Banditaccia Necropolis in Castles and Lakes  and Ostia Antica and Cerveteri Tours and Shore Excursions from Civitavecchia, please visit us  at www.StefanoRomeTours.com

Thank you for stopping by to read our blog. We look forward to hearing from you and seeing you soon in Italy!
~The Stefano Rome Tours Team
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Civitavecchia Travel Tips

Stefano Rome Tours provides many Shore Excursions from the cruise port of Civitavecchia, but sometimes cruisers spend some pre-cruise or post-cruise time inside the town of Civitavecchia.
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Whether you find yourself in this quaint seaside town for a few hours before your ship sails, or arrive the day before to rest up after a long transcontinental flight to Italy, here are some travel tips for some useful places in Civitavecchia.
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Civitavecchia may not be a top tourist destination, but it has some great things to see and do, as well as excellent restaurants, shops, and everything you need during your stay here or before sailing on your cruise.
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For a list of Places to See and Things to Do in Civitavecchia, including the Fortress of Michelangelo, the promenadechurchesmuseums and more, please click HERE.
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WHERE TO EAT IN CIVITAVECCHIA

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Fast Food Restaurants

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Subway in Civitavecchia

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Subway (with free wifi)
On via Zara #8, just a block from the main viale Garibaldi is a large modern Subway restaurant if you’re in the mood for a sub instead of a “panino”. It has tables outdoors and free wi-fi for your laptop so you can connect online.
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Mc Donald’s
If you’re hankering for a burger and fries, there is a Mc Donald’s on the corner of viale Garibaldo and Largo Plebiscito. You can’t miss it, it’s just after you leave the Fortress of Michelangelo area.

Tip: Take the stairs next to the McDonald’s for a great view of Forte Michelangelo and the harbor. Keep walking along, and you will find yourself along the walkway on the walls of what used to be a defense wall.

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Sit Down Restaurants

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Sora Maria Restaurant in Civitavecchia

 

.La “Sora Maria” Al Ghetto trattoria

Lungoporto Antonio Gramsci, 65

Family owned trattoria since 1885. The seafood is among the freshest and most excellent in the area.  It has both indoor and outdoor seating. Upon seating down you’ll find a fresh basket of breads and bruschette on the table, and each guest is served a flute of Prosseco on the house. Such service you don’t find in many restaurants! Your after-meal coffee comes with a small plate of various biscuits. The service and the food can’t be beat and we highly recommend it (afterall, we go there ourselves each chance we get!)

 

Coffee and Deserts

Cioccolart in Civitavecchia

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Cioccolart

Corso Marconi Guglielmo, 49

Chocolate and art have never tasted or looked more decadent than at Cioccolart. Whether a “sweet heart” for your sweetheart, or “edible tools” for the weekend warrior on a holiday, you will be in chocolate and dessert heaven when you step inside this small family owned chocolateria and cafe. Aside from the many handmade high-end artisan chocolate masterpieces, you will find a delicious variety of cakes, pastries, muffins, and great coffee to go with everything! All their products are handmade fresh on premise. We can’t think of more beautiful desserts to enjoy, and thoughtful gifts for loved ones than these edible pieces of chocolate art from Cioccolart.

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Danilo Cafe in Civitavecchia

Pasticceria Bar Danilo

Corso Marconi Guglielmo, 40

You’ll find many locals gathering here for their espresso and cappuccino fixes, as well as satisfying their sweet tooth with the various pastries and biscuits. It’s off the beaten tourist path so you can mingle with the locals. Outdoor tables available.

 

SHOPPING IN CIVITAVECCHIA

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Civitavecchia Shopping
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There is plenty of opportunity for shopping in Civitavecchia. Whether something stylish for the cruise, swimwear for the beach, shoes, handbags, jewelry, accessories or something comfortable in which to lounge around, there are many shops and boutiques for different needs, tastes, styles and budgets. Many shops line the gallery along Corso Marconi Guglielmo, just after you pass the cathedral of St Francis and near the cafes we recommended.

 

FINANCIAL SERVICES IN CIVITAVECCHIA

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Civitavecchia Financial Centers

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Eurolink Finanza &

Near the corner of Largo Plebiscito and via Dalmazia near the main road Via Garibaldi, you’ll find Eurolink financial service center where you can exchange currency or send money via Western Union or MoneyGram. It is also a phone center and internet point, and it sells international phone cards. We found it also to be open on Sundays.

 

BANKS AND ATM MACHINES

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Civitavecchia Banking

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ATM machines are also available in Civitavecchia if you need to withdraw funds.

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PHARMACIES

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Pharmacies (farmacia) are also available, just look for the signs with a green cross lit up.

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For more information on Port Transfers to Civitavecchia please visit www.RomeCabs.com.

For more information on Shore Excursions from Civitavecchia please visit us at www.StefanoRomeTours.com

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Thank you for stopping by and reading our blog.

Sharing is fun: If you enjoyed this article please share it with others who might find it useful.

Do YOU have travel tips for Civitavecchia you’d like to share? We’d love to hear from you in the comment box below.

We look forward to seeing you soon in Italy!

The Stefano Rome Tours Team

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