Thursday, November 12, 2020


Altitude 10 m (33 feet). 51,000 inhabitants

It was the ancient Roman city Centumcellae, built around the great port built at the behest of Trajan (98/117) around which the city prospered and grew larger throughout the history of the Roman empire

537/538 occupied by the Byzantines

During the eight century it became part of the Papal States

In 828 it was conquered by the Saracens to make it a base of operations against Rome

The refugees founded Leòpoli on the mountains in the year 854 with the help of Leo IV (847/855), but the common people would call the new city Cencelle

After the defeat of the Saracens Cencelle was abandoned and they all returned in the old city since then (889) called CIVITAS VETULA (the old city)

The feudal lords who ruled longer were the Di Vico

It capitulated in 1431 and became again part of the Papal States

Forte Michelangelo

Michelangelo’s Fortress

Begun in 1508 by Donato Bramante (1444/1514) for Julius II Della Rovere (1503/13), continued by Antonio Cordini aka Antonio da Sangallo the Younger (1483/1546) and finished 1535/37 for Paul III Farnese (1534/49) by Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475/1564) who designed the core of the fortress

Rectangular 100 x 82 m (328 x 269 feet) with four cylindrical towers and octagonal central core 23 m (75 feet) high


106 AD maybe by Apollodorus of Damascus at the behest of Trajan (98/117)

It was also used commercially but it was primarily the base for the military fleet

In the tenth century it was the best port in the Tyrrhenian Sea

In the seventeenth century it was competing with Livorno and Genoa

It was bombed during the Second World War and about 80% of it was destroyed

Also the large arsenal that had been designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598/1680) was completely destroyed

Now is the first Italian port for cruises

Terme Taurine

Baths of the Bulls

About 4.5 km (3 miles) from Civitavecchia. The baths are known as the baths of the bulls for the legend according to which Jupiter turned into a bull nearby

These are actually the remains of a LARGE VILLA OF THE LATE REPUBLICAN PERIOD, later imperial property, mentioned by Pliny the Younger as villa pulcherrima (the most beautiful villa) of Trajan (98/117)

Here stayed also Marcus Aurelius (161/180) and Commodus (180/192)

The villa is now split in two by the highway

It included a large bathing complex which was greatly expanded in the imperial period and that was fed by the nearby Ficoncella water source


Big Fountain

1743 Luigi Vanvitelli (1700/73) for Benedict XIV Lambertini (1740/58) within the monumental port

Archaeological Museum

Housed in the building of Clement XIII Rezzonico (1758/69), built in 1764 to control the papal garrison

Objects from the city of Centumcellae and from the whole territory, as well as from areas immediately adjacent

Three floors, the last of which is used as a restoration workshop

Ground floor

"Statue of Apollo" first century AD, found in the area of the modern Villa Simonetti in Santa Marinella, allegedly summer residence of the jurisconsult Ulpianus. It is maybe a replica in small scale of the Colossus of Rhodes

Also from the Villa of Ulpianus, "Athena Parthenos" mid second century AD copy from the original by Phidias (about 490/430 BC). The head is now on display at the Louvre Museum

"Portrait of Socrates" of the so-called type B

"Aphrodite of Cnidus" copy from an original by Praxiteles (about 395/326 BC)

"Diadumenus" copy of Polykleitos of Argos (about 490/about 425 BC)

At the center of the room some marble heads, including one depicting "Marcus Aurelius as a youth"

In a room adjacent epigraphs from many sources

First Floor

Ceramic and bronze pieces from sites not only in the town of Civitavecchia, but also Tolfa, Allumiere, Luni sul Mignone and Santa Severa:

Some "Buccheri" including a chalice decorated with stamping of the seventh century BC

A splendid "Balsam" of the sixth century BC with female figure kneeling in front of another, inspired by Egyptian art

Some "Vases of black painted pottery" of the fourth century BC

Metal production: "Bronze Ring" and "Golden Earring" of considerable refinement

Second Floor

Objects dating back to the prehistoric times and to the Villanovian civilization

Among the materials part of funerary kits “Biconical ossuary” and “Ossuary of the hut-type” both of the seventh century BC

Among the many bronze objects there are a series of "Fibulae", some "Engraved mirrors" and a wonderful "Helmet"

Pottery from the territory of Cerveteri of the seventh century BC: series of black and red-figure vases imported from Attica

Collection of medieval ceramics found in the area of the fortress

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