Civitavecchia - with a cheeky twist! | Designer Travel

Arriving on a cruise ship, at the port of Civitavecchia, most travellers, not on an organised excursion, will head straight for some form of transport, be it bus, train or taxi to head straight off to Rome some 70kms away. And we have certainly done that too in the past.

However on this particular day, having done Rome on many previous occasions, we decide to take a wander into the town to see what, if anything, Civitavecchia, officially the Port of Rome, had to offer – and it didn’t disappoint! We thought we would do a little people-watching and enjoyed some great coffees at (more than one of) the very pleasant pavement cafes, in the main town. Although it was almost completely destroyed in World War 2 Civitavecchia was, in the main, sympathetically rebuilt, and is a very nice place to spend a few hours. It has some good shops and although it sees many transient tourists throughout the year has not given itself over to them, offering less souvenir shops than I feared it would.

If you are into history, there are some great offerings still standing – notably the 16c Forte Michaelangelo, , the 17c Cathedral, the lovely 18c Fountain Vanvitelli, and the 11c City walls to name just a few. A very interesting National Archaeological Musuem offers more information of how things used to be.

However it was on the way back to the port, down on the seafront that we came across the most surprising find! Bizarrely standing in the middle of the expansive piazza is a 25 feet tall statue of a sailor embracing a nurse, with an abandonment that almost took my breath away! It is so imposing and detailed, dwarfing everything around it, and completely unexpected. Whichever angle you view it from you get a sense of the real passion of the kiss – it is decidedly cheeky, and I could have easily blushed! It is not called ‘Unconditional Surrender for nothing! It is one of a series of sculptures by Seward Johnson – there are copies of it in various locations in the USA, – it is said to resemble a photograph taken on V–J day in 1945 in Times Square. There are various stories as to the identity of the original couple, but it is widely believed that that they were strangers, and that the sailor just randomly chose the nurse to kiss, if that is the case, they certainly weren’t strangers after that!

So, that’s it for Civitavecchia – a pleasant little city, often bypassed on the way to Rome – with a cheeky statue whose image I shall remember for a long time!

For more information on this and other Mediterranean ports, please contact me anytime on 023 80863663/ 07833 504985


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