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Sicily and Amalfi coast

Cruise Itinary

Rome/Civitavecchia - Ponza - Sorrento - Capri - Amalfi - Taormina - Stromboli - Civitavecchia/Rome


Just before the cruise started from the port of Civitavecchia (about 90 km from Rome), I spent 2 days in Rome upfront for sightseeing and shopping. You can spent several days just for seightseeing, so I picked a few locations that I wanted to revisit (have been to Rome before).

Among them:

  • The Pantheon, which is the best preserved monument in Rome and probably one of the most impressive till today (which is why it deserves a longer description). The Pantheon has the largest non-reinforced cement dome in the world. The building of the Pantheon dates back to Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa,  and was built in the course of 27-25 BC as part of a redesign of the entire district. It is known that the construction of the Agrippa was already oriented to the north and consisted of a conventional temple façade with a round room behind it. It did not yet possess a comparable dome, for it was not yet technically possible to do it at Agrippa's time. In its place was probably a conical wooden roof.  Perhaps it was also this wooden roof that helped Agrippa's Pantheon to be completely destroyed during the devastating fire on the Marsfield, about a century after its construction, in 80 AD. Domitian built a new building, which also fell victim to the fire in 110 AD. Under Hadrian, the building we are able to visit today is not a radically new concept, but built along the already established lines - but completely new, innovative and spectacular thanks to a dome, the diameter of which was twice as great as all known predecessors.

    The main building of the Pantheon - a curved round building - has a diameter and a height of approx. 43 m. The only source of light in the interior is the 9 m large, unglazed opening in the dome. 
    The unique effect of the interior is due to an ingenious proportion: the structure consists of a cylinder with a semi-spherical sphere, the height of the cylinder exactly corresponding to the radius of the dome. Being as wide as it is tall, the dome would touch the ground if it was a complete sphere.
    The Romans gained the cast iron from a cement-like mortar and small-cut bricks and stones. This makes the Pantheon one of the oldest large concrete structures in the world and an architecturally ingenious one.. The dome was "poured" like the rotunda of Opus Caementitium. A monolithic shell was produced, which was thinner for mass reduction (from 5.90 to 1.60 meters), and for which the Romans used lighter material the further upwards it went. By using bricks and pumice as aggregates, the bulk density of the Roman concrete decreased to 1,350 kilograms per cubic meter, thus reducing the load that the building had to bear.

    Even today, recreating a structure like the Panthron is only possible with the latest technology and the most complicated statics calculations. The popes were particularly annoyed by this: during the new construction of St. Peter's. They asked that the dome diameter of the Christian St. Peter's Basilica must necessarily exceed that of the "pagan" Pantheon. The architects, however, surrendered to this requirement - that's why the diameter of the dome of St. Peter's is 1.40 meters smaller than that of the Pantheon. Thus, the Pantheon has the largest dome, which rests on walls of 6.20 meters in thickness, with the supporting structure clearly recognizable from the outside.

    Shooting photos in the Pantheon is possible, but I was asked not to use my tripod.

  • The Fontana di Trevi, which is the most famous fountain in Rome. The baroque building was built at the end of the aqueduct Aque Vergine, which supplied water to the ancient Rome. A part of the Fontana di Trevi is integrated into the façade of the palace Palazzo Poli and has the shape of a triumphal arch. In its center there is a statue of the sea god Neptune.
    According to a legend, it brings luck to throw coins over one's right shoulder into the Trevi Fountain. If you throw a single coin you will return to Rome. If you throw two coins, you will fall in love with an Italian. If you throw a third coin at the end, you will marry this beloved one. The many coins that are thrown into the fountain are regularly fished from the pool by the city's staff. The revenue is approx. 600,000 EUR per year - in small coins. Again, no tripods allowed - which I luckily was told after I had taken my first shots.

  • The Trajan's Markets. The Trajan's forum and trajan's Column were built in the era of the Roman Emperor Trajan, between 107 and 143 AD. 
    The forum was 300 m long, had a width of 158 m and was completed in 36 years. You can think of the Trajan's forum as the predecessor of today's shopping malls: People met to do business, cultivate their social contacts (and contrary to shopping malls: do politics). In order to build the Trajan's forum, a considerable part of one of Rom's seven hills (the Quirinals) was removed for the construction. 

  • Additional places I visited: The Colloseium, Monumento Vittorio Emanuele II, Piazza Navona, Arc of Constantine. At most places, a more or less friendly Italian administrator will tell you "no tripods". 

You can find additional photos of Rome on my Flickr Page.


Ponza is a 7 km long, crescent-shaped island, 30 km off the Italian coast, and a remnant of a volcano crater. The approximately 3000 inhabitants live on Ponza primarily from fishing and tourism. 

Apart from the culinary delights (eating freshly catched fish in one of the many restaurants), the main attraction of Ponza during a short stop surely is a boat trip to the many small grottos with turquois-blue-colored, ultra-clear water that even allows to take extremely detailed snapshots of jellyfish from above the waterline.

You can find additional photos of Ponza on my Flickr Page.

Unfortunately I haven't sifted through the over 13,000 photos I took during that journey. More pictures to come...