Rome is often described as a living, working museum and so it’s no surprise that much of its most iconic sights are completely free to enjoy. The Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, St. Peter’s Basilica and Pantheon (despite attempts to bring in a ticket price) won’t cost you a penny. In fact, even the Colosseum and Roman Forum can be seen without having to part with any cash, as long as you don’t mind admiring them from the street.
So, in this sprawling city, what else is there to do for cruisers on a strict budget? You’re sure to arrive in the port of Civitavecchia eager to explore nearby Rome and so here are some other free things to see and do.
Rome has many different neighbourhoods, which makes the city feel massive, but one of the most picturesque has to be Trastevere. Away from the crowds around the major monuments, you can explore these cobbled streets and narrow lanes to get a more authentic idea of what it’s like to live here.
A pleasant stroll along the banks of the Tiber from the Vatican will take you into this whimsical district and it’s the ideal spot for a casual lunch in one of the charming pavement cafés and trattorias. As you turn each corner, beautiful churches and leafy courtyards sneak up on you and make you feel like you’ve discovered a hidden gem.
Of all the squares in Rome, the Piazza del Popolo is one of the largest and most interesting. On its north edge, the Basilica Parrocchiale Santa Maria del Popolo stands proudly, bearing some of the best free artwork in the city. A series of spectacular Caravaggio canvasses line the wall, depicting the martyrdom of St. Peter and conversion of St. Paul. If you can tear your eyes away, the Chigi chapel is home to an intricate mosaic by Raphael that shows the different signs of the zodiac.
The story of the basilica is definitely an intriguing one. It was built on the spot where a tree filled with demons had grown out of Emperor Nero’s grave. To rid Rome of their terror, the people paid for the construction of Santa Maria del Popolo, which means ‘St. Mary of the People’.
Fans of the film adaptation of Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons may have extra incentive to search out this church. Some of the movie’s most suspenseful scenes, when Langdon (Tom Hanks) races across town in search of the First Altar of Science, were shot inside.
Ascend Aventine Hill
One of Rome’s famous seven hills is Aventine Hill, a beautiful spot where rich plebeians (people not born into a ruling family) used to live during Roman times. Aside from the colourful blooms in the botanical garden and the towering orange trees in the Giardino degli Aranci, a lookout platform provides the best vantage point in the city for taking panoramic photos. The nearby Circus Maximus (where chariot races once took place) is also an interesting sight.
Close to the Orange Garden, you’ll find one of the city’s most well-known ‘hidden’ gems. A keyhole in the door of the Maltese embassy (Knights of Malta Keyhole) allows for a secretive view of St. Peter’s Basilica at the end of a magical hedgerow.
If you would like to book one of our Mediterranean cruises which features Rome as a port, you can contact the team on 0800 035 0701. Alternatively, click here to contact us or sign up to the mailing list.