Italy Ports

 

Venice
Venice is filled with history and culture at every turn. Shown here in port is the Silver Cloud.

 

To see Rome and Venice on a short stay is nearly impossible, but when visiting on a port of call, you certainly have to try. If you have just a few hours (or, dare we say it, an entire day) to kill in either of these iconic cities, here are our tips on how to seize the moment.

When docking “in Rome,” cruisers will find that they are not actually in Rome, but in Civitavecchia, which is about 50 miles from the city. However, luxury cruise operators will provide transportation to and from the city center.

 

Advisor Insight

“No matter how many days you stay in Venice, it never seems to be enough,” says Judy Litner of Travel Express Intl. “If you only have one day in this magical city, visit the Doge's Palace, the Bridge of Sighs and St. Mark’s Square. Have an espresso or cappuccino at Café Florian, the oldest cafe in Venice. An orchestra plays while you sit and sip. Then head to the Rialto Bridge. Cross over to the fruit, vegetable and fish market, where the locals come to shop each day. If possible, stop in at the Peggy Guggenheim Museum after you have completed a gondola ride. For a fabulous dinner, head to my favorite restaurant, Al Covo.

“If you only have one day to explore Rome, go directly to the bottom of the Spanish Steps. From here, you can easily walk to the Pantheon, Piazza Navona and Piazza del Popolo. You will need transportation to the Vatican. If you’re a real foodie, don’t miss Kenny Dunn’s four-hour walking food tour, Eating Italy Food Tours. You will visit the Testaccio food market and have 12 food tastings as you walk, including a sit-down lunch with wine and pastas of three different kinds.”

 To visit Rome and to not indulge is unthinkable, we say. Forego your calorie-counting mindset and let your waistline go, if only just a little bit. Rome is a walking city, after all, so we think you will more than make up for the extra caloric intake. For daytime dining, and a much-needed reprieve from all the sightseeing, we say make a stop at RossoPomodoro, a Neapolitan restaurant at Largo Argentina that serves up delicious pizzas and pastas. The restaurant is airy and bright with attentive and speedy service, and the food will leave you delightfully full but not weighted down, so the touring can continue.

For evening dining, there is nothing more romantic than sitting outside at the Piazza Campo de’ Fiori and sampling the carbonara pasta at La Carbonara.

Rome is a city to be seen on foot, and as many of its notable attractions are close to each other, it is completely possible to cover the Colosseum, Spanish Steps and Forum on the same day. The Vatican Museum and St. Peter’s Basilica, however, require much more attention. Rather than getting lost in the hordes of people, we suggest booking a private or semi-private tour with Dark Rome Tours & Walks, which offers group tours of a limited size with expert guides, that allows guests certain perks. Our Vatican City tour allowed us to cut the painfully long lines, saving us lots of time. The three-hour tour takes you through the Vatican Museum and into the Sistine Chapel. The groups are 20 people or less and the tour covers everything from ancient sculptures and tapestries to the Raphael Rooms and the Sistine Chapel. Tours run around $70 per person, and the amount of time you save being able to skip the lines is well worth it. Note: Dark Rome also offers other tours in Rome, as well as tours in Florence, Venice and Pompeii.

Coming Soon: Should you be in Rome on a pre- or post-cruise visit, be sure to check out the J.K. Place Roma, which is slated to open this summer. Occupying a historical building at Via Monte d’Oro 30 just off the Via Condotti, within walking distance from the Spanish Steps, the hotel will have chic, contemporary interiors. At the helm is General Manager Samuel Porecca, who created the successful vibe at the J.K. Place Capri. The J.K. Master room, which is made up of a living room and separate bedroom, will span 540 square feet.

Something akin to a citywide, outdoor museum, Venice oozes history and culture at every turn. Of course, being such a tourist-heavy city can leave many traps that don’t quite capture the city’s essence. Here are our insider tips.

Like most cities in Italy, life in Venice goes on at a leisurely place. It is not uncommon for ladies to stop for a morning glass of Prosecco on the way to the market, often before 11 a.m. To truly experience the Venetian way of life, begin with a “bacari crawl.” The typical bars in Venice called bacari serve cicheti, versions of tapas that are often served with small glasses of Prosecco, in the mornings. The Calle Della Madonna San Polo is a wonderful place to wind through the back alleys and sample from these small eateries.

If you are going to explore the Piazza San Marco and the Rialto (and you really should, but please do not spend your entire day there), be sure to visit the fish market because there you will find a hidden gem. The Rialto is one of the most heavily trafficked parts of an overly toured city, but tucked behind an unassuming store front, directly across the fish market, is Pronto Pesce (prontopesce.it), a local market selling delicacies that were most likely swimming just a few hours prior to your purchase.

The display case, upon first glance, isn’t really all that impressive—especially if you don’t know what it is you are looking at. Fortunately, the people behind the counter speak English relatively well and are more than willing to explain what it is before your eyes. We suggest a sampling of everything (think smoked swordfish, squid eggs, salted cod, shrimp, tuna and even shark). This is all accompanied with crusty, rustic bread and, of course, that ever-present glass of Prosecco.

While in town, we also suggest visiting The Gritti Palace. The Starwood Luxury Collection has been hard at work restoring the iconic hotel on the Grand Canal. The 15-month project brought some of Italy’s best craftsmen to the 16th-century palace, where they worked on original Rubelli Venetian textiles, terrazzo floors, handcrafted Girandole mirrors and antique Murano glass chandeliers.

Perhaps the biggest news is the addition of The Redentore Terrazza Suite, a two-story suite on the palazzo’s top floor equipped with a sprawling terrace (the perfect spot to host a cocktail party). Accessed by private elevator, the suite also has a small pool overlooking the Grand Canal. Luxury travel advisors can contact Paolo Lorenzoni ([email protected]; 011-39-041-79, ext. 4701) for questions or bookings.

 

 

 

A Bird's Eye view of St. Peter’s Square
A Bird's Eye view of St. Peter’s Square from the basicila, in Rome.