Sean's Stories

Posted by sean on July 3, 2017 at 1:54 pm in Holiday with No Comments


Today is our final Italian port, and based on two years ago, my favourite – Civitavecchia, The Port of Rome. Despite being 50 miles away from the Italian capital, Civitavecchia is the main port for the city, attracting trade and tourists alike.

After breakfast in the cabin (there was not nearly enough time to go to the restaurant), we boarded the coach for the one-and-a-half-hour drive to Rome. This seems a long way to travel for a day trip, but it is worth it. Rome is beautiful and full of history.

Our tour guide provided excellent commentary, as we drove around the city. There was a brief stop for those who chose to get off and see the Coliseum. I stayed on the air-conditioned coach and was taken around further streets, as the driver took his coach to a suitable pickup point. Saw lots of tourists, many, like myself, wearing numbered stickers, indicating that they are part of one of the many excursions taking place. The locals, many of whom would have been on their lunch break at the time, dashed around the pavements and busy roads, in an apparent hurry. Cars impatiently waited as pedestrians crossed the wide roads. Pedestrians impatiently waited for a chance to risk crossing. Day life in Rome is busy for its many residents, although I am sure things slow down come the evening.

There are many cars in Rome, although most are very small models. Parking is a huge problem. The authorities are reluctant to build car parks, as it would be at the expense of the historical architecture. Despite the parking problems, you can fully appreciate the decision to leave the world-famous buildings alone.

As in Pisa, street sellers are a constant problem. Many line the streets and attractions, trying to sell tourists water, umbrellas and selfie-sticks. Our tour guide tells us how the authorities are clamping down on street sellers, and as a result, protests were taking place in the city centre. You can see the argument from both sides. Having been harassed by the sellers myself, I can state they are very annoying; although they have to make a living, and I suspect some of the less intrusive, more respectable traders are being placed in the same bracket as those tormenting tourists.

One of the many sites in Rome included baths, with water from hot springs, enjoyed by the Romans. Our tour guide compared them to my home city, Bath. I haven’t seen the baths in Rome, so don’t know if the water is as smelly and green as it is back home.

As the coach began the drive out of Rome, various street ‘people’ targeted us. First was a man who had painted his face white, like a clown. He is known to our guide, who tells us that the man is often given water. Whether this is to sell, or drink himself, I don’t know. He wasn’t allowed aboard, so presumably went thirsty. While stuck at traffic lights, one of the typical street sellers gestured to customers behind the coach windows, asking if they wanted to buy his collection of novelty umbrellas and cigarette lighters. Even if someone did want to purchase such rubbish, the coach was in the middle of a busy road, and about to drive off, as soon as the lights changed!

We managed to avoid any more pests, and headed for our temporary home – the ship. As we got closer to the port, we spotted an alarming cloud of smoke. It wasn’t long until we saw its source. A fire in a roadside field. Worryingly, the flames looked as if they were beginning to grow out of control. It was a very hot day, with the ground appearing hard and dry. The local police were already aware of the growing disaster – hopefully the fire brigade found out soon after.

Spend the remainder of the afternoon in the cabin and on our balcony. Another gloriously warm day. The ship leaves port slightly late due to some missing passengers, who are later found. Tonight’s meal is a bean cassoulet, followed by blueberry sorbet. Have to wait in one of the many bars before being seated, as for the first time this holiday, the restaurant is full. After eating, slowly walk back to our cabin, safe in the knowledge that the next day should be little calmer, as we will be at sea.

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