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Coordinates: 42°06′N 11°48′E / 42.100°N 11.800°E / 42.100; 11.800
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Civitavecchia fort and harbour
Civitavecchia fort and harbour
Flag of Civitavecchia
Coat of arms of Civitavecchia
Location in the Metropolitan City of Rome
Location in the Metropolitan City of Rome
Location of Civitavecchia
Civitavecchia is located in Italy
Location of Civitavecchia in Italy
Civitavecchia is located in Lazio
Civitavecchia (Lazio)
Coordinates: 42°06′N 11°48′E / 42.100°N 11.800°E / 42.100; 11.800
Metropolitan cityRome
FrazioniAurelia, La Scaglia
 • Total73.74 km2 (28.47 sq mi)
 • Total52,671
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+2 (CEST)
Patron saintSaint Fermina

Civitavecchia (pronounced [ˌtʃivitaˈvɛkkja]; meaning "ancient town") is a city and major sea port on the Tyrrhenian Sea 60 kilometres (37 miles) west-northwest of Rome. Its legal status is a comune (municipality) of Rome, Lazio.

The harbour is formed by two piers and a breakwater on which stands a lighthouse.


Civitavecchia in 1699 showing buildings of Roman harbour

Etruscan era[edit]

The whole territory of Civitavecchia is dotted with the remains of Etruscan tombs and it is likely that in the centre of the current city a small Etruscan settlement thrived. The Etruscan necropolis of Mattonara, not far from the Molinari factory, is almost certainly from the 7th - 6th century BC and was most likely connected with the nearby necropolis of Scaglia. An ancient port formed by small parallel basins capable of accommodating single vessels was still visible at the end of the 19th century near Fort Michelangelo [it; de].

An Etruscan settlement on the hill of Ficoncella can still be seen. The first baths of the settlement were built there before 70 BC, and known by the Romans as Aquae Tauri.

Roman era[edit]

The nearby monumental baths at Terme Taurine were built originally in the Roman Republican era, possibly by Titus Statilius Taurus, prefect of Rome.

The harbour was greatly enlarged by the Emperor Trajan at the beginning of the 2nd century and known as Centum Cellae thereafter probably due to the many vaulted "cells" forming the harbour wall some of which can still be seen. The first occurrence of the name Centum Cellae is from a letter by Pliny the Younger[3] in AD 107. It has been suggested that the name could instead refer to the centum ("hundred") halls of the extensive villa of Trajan which was nearby.[4] The harbour was probably built by Trajan's favourite architect, Apollodorus of Damascus (who also built the harbour of Ancona). The town was also known as Centum Cellae and was developed from the same time. Trajan's sumptuous villa pulcherrima (most beautiful, according to Pliny[5]) must have been built at the same time but traces have yet to be found, although the Terme Taurine baths and the large cistern nearby are likely to have been included.[6] Pliny was summoned by Trajan to his villa there for an exceptional meeting there of the consilium principis (advisory council) which normally took place in Rome, and which indicates the status of the villa as an imperial residence. The villa was also used later by the young Marcus Aurelius, probably in the years 140-145[7] who built a vivarium there and also in 173 by Commodus.[8]

Inscriptions from between the 2nd and 3rd centuries from a cemetery near the Roman harbour prove the presence of classiari, sailors from the navy, and also of a noble class. They also tell of the number and type of ships which were detachments of the fleets of Ravenna and of Misenum.[9]

In 251 Pope Cornelius was imprisoned in Centumcellae during the persecutions of Decius and his successor Trebonianus Gallus and died there in 253.

In the 4th and 5th centuries the city and port became even more prosperous and busy, as Rutilius Namatianus described it in 414[10] as it became an important port of Rome due to the silting of Ostia.

In the 530s, Centumcellae was a Byzantine stronghold and until 553 the city suffered in the wars between the Goths and the Byzantines.[11][12][13]

Later history[edit]

It became part of the Papal States in 728 and Pope Gregory III refortified Centumcellae. As the port was raided by the Saracens in 813–814, 828, 846 and finally in 876, a new settlement in a more secure place was therefore built by order of Pope Leo IV as soon as 854.[14] In the meantime, however, the inhabitants returned to the old town by the shore in 889 and rebuilt it, giving it the name Civitas Vetus.[4] The Popes gave the settlement as a fief to several local lords, including the Count Ranieri of Civitacastellana and the Abbey of Farfa, and the Di Vico, who held Centumcellae in 1431. In that year, pope Eugene IV sent an army under cardinal Giovanni Vitelleschi and several condottieri (Niccolò Fortebraccio, Ranuccio Farnese and Menicuccio dell'Aquila among them) to recapture the place, which, after the payment of 4,000 florins, became thenceforth a full Papal possession, led by a vicar and a treasurer.

The place became a free port under Pope Innocent XII in 1696 and by the modern era was the main port of Rome. The French Empire occupied it in 1806.

The French novelist Stendhal served as consul for a time in Civitavecchia.

On 16 April 1859 the Rome and Civitavecchia railway was opened for service.

The Papal troops opened the gates of the fortress to the Italian general Nino Bixio in 1870. This permanently removed the port from papal control.

During World War II, the Allies launched several bombing raids against Civitavecchia, which damaged the city and inflicted several civilian casualties.[15] On June 27, 1944, two American soldiers from the 379th Port Battalion, Fred A. McMurray and Louis Till, allegedly raped two Italian women in Civitavecchia and murdered a third. McMurray and Till were subsequently both executed by the United States Army by hanging five months later.[16]


Civitavecchia is today a major cruise and ferry port, the main starting point for sea connection from central Italy to Sardinia, Sicily, Tunis and Barcelona. Fishing has a secondary importance.

The city is also the seat of two thermal power stations. The conversion of one of them to coal has raised the population's protests, as it is feared it could create heavy pollution.

Main sights[edit]

Roman Torre di Lazzaretto
Roman baths of Aquae Tauri

Roman city[edit]

The modern inner harbour (darsena) rests on ancient foundations many of which can be seen and whose shape is still very much the same as it was in Trajan's time. It had a curved breakwater on the southern side and a straight one to the north with arches to reduce the waves which still exist.

The Torre di Lazzaretto [it] is the only remaining Tower of four large Roman round towers that served as beacons around the ancient harbour. Remains of warehouses can be seen between the large basin and the inner harbour (darsena), still used during the middle ages.

A section of the Via Aurelia running along the harbour, 6 m wide and at a depth of 3 m, was excavated.

Some of the Roman city wall is visible in the basement of the Fraternity of the Banner in the Piazza Leandra.

Remains of an aqueduct and a large cistern, possibly part of Trajan's villa, are preserved.[17]

North of the city at Ficoncella are the Terme Taurine baths frequented by Romans and still popular with the Civitavecchiesi. The modern name stems from the common fig plants among the various pools.

Also at Ficoncella nearby are the baths of Aquae Tauri from the earlier Etruscan and early Roman settlement.[18] A larger building of 160x100 m enclosed the baths and is being excavated.[19]

Other sights[edit]

The massive Forte Michelangelo was first commissioned from Donato Bramante by Pope Julius II, to defend the port of Rome. The upper part of the "maschio" tower, however, was designed by Michelangelo, whose name is generally applied to the fortress. Pius IV added a convict prison, and the arsenal, designed by Bernini, was built by Alexander VII.[4]

Major cruise lines start and end their cruises at this location, and others stop for shore excursion days to visit Rome and the Vatican, ninety minutes away.



Civitavecchia experiences a hot-summer Mediterranean climate (Köppen climate classification Csa).

Climate data for Civitavecchia (1991–2020)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 13.5
Daily mean °C (°F) 10.4
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) 7.5
Average precipitation mm (inches) 66.4
Average precipitation days (≥ 1 mm) 6.9 6.1 6.0 6.2 5.0 2.8 1.3 1.6 4.6 6.8 9.0 7.8 64.0
Average relative humidity (%) 73.7 73.1 74.9 75.4 75.1 74.7 73.3 73.4 73.4 73.4 75.9 72.6 74.2
Average dew point °C (°F) 6.2
Source: NOAA[20]


View of the port
View of station platforms

The Port of Civitavecchia, also known as "Port of Rome",[21] is an important hub for the maritime transport in Italy, for goods and passengers. Part of the "Motorways of the Sea",[22] it is linked to several Mediterranean ports and represents one of the main links between Italian mainland to Sardinia.

Civitavecchia railway station, opened in 1859, is the western terminus of the Rome–Civitavecchia railway, which forms part of the Pisa–Livorno–Rome railway. A short line linking the town center to the harbour survived until the early 2000s.[23] It counted two stations: Civitavecchia Marittima, serving the port, and Civitavecchia Viale della Vittoria.

Civitavecchia is served by the A12, an unconnected motorway linking Rome to Genoa and by the State highway SS1 Via Aurelia, which also links the two stretches. The town is also interested by a project regarding a new motorway, the Civitavecchia-Venice or New Romea,[24] nowadays completed as a dual carriageway between Viterbo and Ravenna (via Terni, Perugia and Cesena) and commonly known in Italy as the Orte-Ravenna.


The commune has multiple preschools,[25] primary schools,[26] junior high schools,[27] and high schools.[28] Polo Universitario di Civitavecchia is located in the city.

Twin towns and sister cities[edit]

Civitavecchia is twinned with:


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Superficie di Comuni Province e Regioni italiane al 9 ottobre 2011". Italian National Institute of Statistics. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  2. ^ "Popolazione Residente al 1° Gennaio 2018". Italian National Institute of Statistics. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  3. ^ Pliny Epist. 6.31
  4. ^ a b c  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Civita Vecchia". Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 6 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 416–417.
  5. ^ Pliny Epist. 6.31
  6. ^ Anna Maria Reggiani, la villa pulcherrima di traiano a CENTUMCELLAE, doi: 10.1387/veleia.19438 Veleia, 35, 129-149, 2018
  7. ^ Fronto, Epist. ad M. Caesarem 3.21.1
  8. ^ Historia Augusta, life of Commodus, 1.9
  9. ^ Hidden Treasures in the Darsena Romana in the Port of Civitavecchia https://civitavecchia.portmobility.it/en/hidden-treasures-darsena-romana-port-civitavecchia
  10. ^ Rutilius Namatianus, A Voyage Home to Gaul 217‑276
  11. ^ Procopius, De Bello Gothico VI, VII
  12. ^ Procopius, De Bello Gothico VIII.33‑35
  13. ^ Procopius, De Bello Gothico III.36‑40
  14. ^ "Saint Leo IV". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 14 June 2024.
  15. ^ "History of Civitavecchia | Port of Rome – Civitavecchia".
  16. ^ https://www.esquire.com/news-politics/a48989/black-and-white-case/
  17. ^ Cistern and aqueduct https://www.ostia-antica.org/dict/topics/centumcellae/presentation/centumcellae-06.htm
  18. ^ F. Stasolla et al., Nuove ricerche nel territorio di Civitavecchia. Un progetto per Aquae Tauri, in Scienze dell'Antichità 24.1 (2018), pp. 149-174.
  19. ^ Aquae Tauri, the Achelous project https://www.romanports.org/en/news/301-aquae-tauri-the-acheloous-project.html
  20. ^ "Civitavecchia Climate Normals 1991–2020". World Meteorological Organization Climatological Standard Normals (1991–2020). National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Archived from the original on 27 August 2023. Retrieved 27 August 2023.
  21. ^ (in Italian) Port of Civitavecchia website
  22. ^ Infos at R.A.M. website (search the list of ports) Archived April 19, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  23. ^ (in Italian) Historical infos and pictures about the Civitavecchia-Cv. Marittima rail line
  24. ^ (in Italian) Article at ANAS website
  25. ^ "Scuole dell'Infanzia Archived 2014-12-21 at the Wayback Machine." Commune of Civitavecchia. Retrieved on December 21, 2014.
  26. ^ "Scuole elementari Archived 2014-12-21 at the Wayback Machine." Commune of Civitavecchia. Retrieved on December 21, 2014.
  27. ^ "Scuola media inferiore Archived 2014-12-21 at the Wayback Machine." Commune of Civitavecchia. Retrieved on December 21, 2014.
  28. ^ "Scuole medie superiori Archived 2014-12-21 at the Wayback Machine." Commune of Civitavecchia. Retrieved on December 21, 2014.
  29. ^ "Twinning with Palestine". The Britain - Palestine Twinning Network. Archived from the original on 2012-06-28. Retrieved 2008-11-29.
  30. ^ The City of Bethlehem has signed a twinning agreements with the following cities Bethlehem Municipality.
  31. ^ "::Bethlehem Municipality::". www.bethlehem-city.org. Archived from the original on 2010-07-24. Retrieved 2009-10-10.
  32. ^ "Emiliano Sciarra | Board Game Designer | BoardGameGeek".

External links[edit]