The Darsena Romana in the Port of CivitavecchiaThe Darsena Romana of Civitavecchia: location, history and curious facts to know
The Darsena Romana is the innermost and oldest part of the Port of Civitavecchia, a small port of rectangular shape, in the past protected by the walls of the Old Rock and today communicating with the rest of the port through a passage dug into the rock.
If you are inside the Port of Civitavecchia, you can reach it with a pleasant stroll from Varco Fortezza entrance (Fort Michelangelo) skirting the ancient walls by Urban VII first, with the Vanvitelli Fountain and the monumental Porta Livorno and then the remains of the Old Rock.
p.s. also read our itinerary on foot to discover the monuments of the Historic Port of Civitavecchia.
A little bit of history: from the Roman Empire to the present day
Designed almost 2000 years ago by the great architect Apollodorus of Damascus, the Dock served mainly for the Roman Ships of the imperial fleet to stop and restock.
Emperor Trajan had identified in this place a both secure and strategic base, and its importance is attested by numerous sepulchral inscriptions, recovered in 1864.
These are, in fact, witness to the presence of classiari, the sailors of the Roman fleet that between the II and III century A.D. used this port as a station for the armies of Rome.
But the epigraphs are certainly not the only discovery that attests to the historical importance of this place! To learn more read this article, which deals with the famous discovery of the arm in bronze with trident of a colossal statue of Neptune.
Survived intact throughout the Middle Ages under the domination of the lordship of the Vico, The Dock, defensed by the imposing Castle of the Rock, passed under the temporal power of the popes who restored it and exploited it as a strategic base for their naval fleet. A safe harbor within the coast of Lazio for the flourishing trade of alum.
Unfortunately the violent bombings of the second world war destroyed it completely and the current aspect of the Dock is due to more recent interventions.
Today the Dock hosts the headquarters of the Guardia di Finanza di Mare, the Circolo Nautico di Civitavecchia and since some years ago also the Association "Friends of the Darsena Romana" an NGO that carries out activities of a social nature.
Anyway, the activity that will inmediately catch your attention during your walk along the Darsena Romana is without doubt fishing. In fact, here it is not rare to meet fishermen focused on their work while preparing the nets on board of their vessels.
Finally, the Darsena Romana also hosts a shipyard at disposal for all small pleasure crafts that there are moored.
Today walking among the Roman and Pontifical ruins of this timeless place, is a striking experience, worth living in order to fully understand the greatness of the port of Rome and the history of Civitavecchia.
At the South side of the Darsena, precisely behind the walls of the Old Rock, you can admire the beautiful reconstruction of a part of a Liburna, ancient war ship of the Roman fleet.
The galley, accurately life-size reproduced (scale 1:1), is a result of the hability and mastery of Commander Mario Palmieri, director of the experimental archeology department CANS LANS, who has been involved for years in the study and reproduction of Roman ships, according to the building techniques and technologies of the time.
The work, symbolically placed inside the Darsena, in the place where in the past the Liburna found shelter and was supplied, is a further testimony of the conquests achieved in the militar field by Emperor Trajan and the great strenght of the Roman Empire.
p.s. if you wish to know more about the history of this important place, we recommend to read the book "The Darsena Romana - The Small Port of Civitavecchia" by Roberta Galletta.
- HOW TO GET THERE
Entering the Port of Civitavecchia from Varco Fortezza (Fort Michelangelo) walk along the walls by Urban VIII along Calata della Rocca, overpass the Vanvitelli Fountain and after a few steps, on the opposite side of Porta Livorno you'll find yourself in front of the Rock. Cross through the narrow passage between the old walls and you'll be inside the Darsena Romana.
If you otherwise access from Varco Vespucci, take as reference the big roundabout with the statue of emperor Trajan and continue to your left until you get to the Darsena Romana.