Located about 80 kilometers northwest of Rome, the Port of Civitavecchia is the port of Rome and a busy ferry and cargo port serving Italy and southern Europe. Lying on Italy’s eastern shores on the Tyrrhenian Sea, the Port of Civitavecchia has excellent direct connections to Rome.
It is an important cruise and ferry port with regular passage to Sardinia, Malta, Sicily, Tunis, and Barcelona. Fishing is of secondary importance to the Port of Civitavecchia. In addition to ocean-going traffic, the Port of Civitavecchia also contains a thermoelectric center and metallurgical works. In 2006, over 51 thousand people called the Port of Civitavecchia home.
The Port of Civitavecchia was built on an earlier Etruscan settlement. Emperor Trajan founded the Port of Civitavecchia in the early 2nd Century, calling it Centumcellae. Today, Trajan’s Port is preserved within today’s Port of Civitavecchia.
A busy growing town during the late Roman era, the Port of Civitavecchia was attacked by Vandals and then destroyed by the Saracens in 828 AD. Residents escaped to the nearby Allumiere Mountains where Pope Leo IV built a walled town in 854. Eventually, the people returned to Civitavecchia (the name means “old city”).
At the end of the 15th Century, the Port of Civitavecchia was under frequent attack by pirates. The naval arsenal was constructed in 1508. Pope Paul III commissioned the building of the keep, which was designed by Donato Bramante and then finished by Michelangelo in 1537, to protect the Port of Civitavecchia from the pirate attacks. In 1696, Civitavecchia became a free port under Pope Innocent XII.
Because it was Rome’s main port, the French occupied the Port of Civitavecchia in 1849. The Port of Civitavecchia was linked to Rome by the Rome and Civitavecchia Rail Road in 1859. When the Port of Civitavecchia became part of the Kingdom of Italy in 1870, it was one of the Papal State’s most strongly-fortified towns when Papal troops welcomed General Nino Bixio on behalf of the Italian unification forces into the Port of Civitavecchia fortress.
World War II brought destruction to as much as three-quarters of the Port of Civitavecchia. Reconstruction enlarged the Port of Civitavecchia beyond its pre-war area.
In 1995, the Port of Civitavecchia gained international attention when a statute of the Madonna cried tears of blood in the garden of a local family. Witnesses reported the phenomenon to a Theological Commission, and scientific examination verified that there was no trick – that the tears were indeed human blood. The “Madonna of Civitavecchia” is now on display in the Parish of S. Agostino for worship by the faithful.