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How to Visit Rome by Yacht

Current Location: Santa Marinella, Italy
Current Position: 42 2.12 N 011 52.35 E Click to view map.
Distance sailed since last post: 84 nautical miles. View the map of our voyage track here

The obvious thing to do is to find a marina as close as possible to Rome so that you can leave your boat there. It turns out that ‘obvious’ is not always ‘best’.

In the area of Fiumicino, which is where the Leonardo da Vinci airport is, there are two waterways that flow east to west: the Fiumicino canal to the north, and the Fiume Tevere  (Tiber river) just south of that. Between them is an area called Isola Sacre.

The airport is north of the canal. On the canal are several boatyards, but there are bridges that have to open to let your through. They open but twice a day, and not every day, so that is not exactly convenient.

On the river there  are also several boatyards and marinas, and south of the river mouth is the Porto di Roma.  We phoned several of these places to try to find a place for us. Most of them didn’t even answer. Eventually Porto Romano, the first marina on the north bank of the river, offered us a place for 51 euro. We figured this would be a good place to access both the airport to pick up Josh, and to get to Rome.


Isola Sacre has NO transport options. So it is an expensive taxi ride anywhere – for example 25 euros to go 7 km to the airport.

Port di Roma (just south of the mouth of the river) is a little better. At least there you can get a bus to take you to the train to take you to Rome, where you then take the Metro to get to the Vatican.  Even to visit Ostia Antica requires a bus ride from there, as does the airport, which is even farther away. BTW, Ostia Antica is not visible from the water, either the sea or the river.

Since we were in Porto Romano (on the river north bank) we did take a taxi to visit Ostia – only to find that it is shut on Mondays which, apparently, neither the front desk at the marina nor the taxi driver knew.

Moral of the story: don’t try to visit Rome from any of the marinas around Fiumicino.

Instead go to Santa Marinella, about 24 nm to the north.  Having realised how impractical Fiumicino is, having picked up Josh, and after our abortive attempt to visit Ostia Antica, we decided to sail north the very next day.

Santa Marinella is a small town just South East of Civitavecchia. There is a small harbour and there is a sandy anchorage just outside the harbour.  Unfortunately when we arrived late afternoon we didn’t find the sand. Instead we found a very rocky bottom, and were not happy with leaving the boat there, so we went into the Marina while we went to Rome. We had two nights inside and then on the last night we went outside the marina and this time did find the sand for a very peaceful night.

Just 3 minutes from the harbour is a small town with shopping, and just another 2 minutes away is a train station with trains every half hour to Rome. One train taking between 30 minutes and an hour (depending on how many stops it makes) and you are at San Pietro with a ten minute walk to the Vatican. Much easier!

Rome is Rome. What can one say?  Here are some photos:



Dusk in Santa Marinella – we love the sunsets


The Vatican is packed. Always. If you want to visit the museum you either line up for at least 2 hours, or buy a skip-the-line ticket. We took the official Vatican tour which was 2 hours long and in our view was plenty long enough. Frankly, I was surprised that the museum was mostly art and statues, I was expecting much more of the ‘treasures’ of the Vatican. The Sistene chapel was excellent, as to be expected.

We did not visit the Basilica as the line up for that – in the pouring rain – was also 2 hours! No chance. We have seen plenty of spectacular basilicas already, so we gave it a miss.

However, we did see the Pope! From about 300 meters away. He was pretty tiny. But he was doing some kind of mass or service in St. Peter’s square which was also packed. Yes, that’s him on the stage. He is the one dressed in white.






The trick to visiting the Colisseum: Don’t join the huge line up at the entrance. Instead, walk around the corner and find the entrance to the Palatino (Palatine hill). There is almost no queue there, and it is the same ticket! You can then visit both those plus the Forum.


Unlike the amphitheater in El Djem, Tunisia there were no seats left here, so it was harder to imagine the crowds roaring for the gladiators. Both are impressive. This was a lot more crowded!

We had two days in Rome and that was enough. Saw lots of monuments, statues, churches, piazzas and so on.

Onwards and northwards…

2 Responses to “How to Visit Rome by Yacht”

  • Arne Jonsson:

    Fiumicino is a great place for visiting Rome. There is a marina just inside the entrance of the canal. Not sure if it takes catamarans. Inside the bridges there are some more and less expensive marinas. One is on the north side of the canal, just after the second bridge. Opposite of that marina is a bus stop for the airport bus (it’s outside the town hall if I got it right). The bus goes first to the airport and then to Termini station in central Rome. 6 Euros and very convenient.

    • Noel:

      The north side of the canal would, indeed, work for visiting Rome, though you still have to take a bus and then two trains. But our attempts to contact all the marinas by phone and by radio were fruitless. So not knowing exactly what we would find, whether there would be space for us, and whether the bridges would open, we did not try that route.

      In the end, as we said, Marinella proved to be perfect for us. Cheaper. A short walk to the train station which went right into the center of Rome. A good anchorage outside the marina if the weather is settled. But no easy access to Ostia.

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