The Nieuw Amsterdam had several tours going into either Rome or Vatican City. Some were mostly walking; others on a bus. The ship also had some tours that did not visit Rome for those who had been many times before. These included a day in Tarquinia and Tuscania, time in Ostia Antica, or a visit to the catacombs outside Rome.
We were up before six am on Sunday morning since we had our early morning "Roman Holiday" tour. This full day tour was visiting many of the settings and spots seen in the movie "Roman Holiday", which starred Gregory Peck and Eddie Albert and introduced Audrey Hepburn to the world in her first movie. The movie was filmed in Rome, and much of the city is remarkably unchanged in the past 60 years. (Not sure why this is surprising, since some of those places are unchanged in the last 600 years.) Most of the 20 participants on the tour were like me--had visited Rome many times and were enamored of the movie. Others had never been to Rome before, but thought the tour included most of the places they had dreamed of seeing. Having a small group of 20 sure makes big tours look hectic and crowded. However, smaller tours usually are more expensive, so that is a factor you must consider when planning your time ashore.
We had another lovely day--in the low 80's and partly cloudy. Our bus left the ship at 7:45 and were in Rome by 9:00 am. It was Sunday, so traffic was light. We rode into Rome a slightly different way than I've been before, passing by the "St. Paul Outside the Walls" church and the tomb of a rich Italian built about 18 BC–12 BC as a tomb for Caius Cestius that was modeled after the Great Pyramid at Giza. It is well preserved, but looks out of place in Rome.
The first stop was at the Palazzo Brancaccio, which is an elegant villa built in the late 19th century (a few blocks east of the Colosseum near the Parco di Traiano). For those who have seen the movie "Roman Holiday", the palazzo was seen in the first few scenes, where Princess Anya (Audrey) is welcomed to Rome with a party hosted by the Italian ambassador from her country (wherever that was, they never say). (Note: the palace is not on the river, so she must have been either sleeping somewhere else or the director took some artistic license, since the movie switches from the ballroom dancing to her bedroom, and her bedroom is where she watches the people dancing on the river barge below.) We watched some of the movie on the return to the ship, and the decor of the rooms has not been changed since the 1950's when the movie was made. We had about two blocks' walk to/from the bus.
Our bus left the Palazzo Brancaccio and drove the short distance to near the Spanish Steps, where Audrey had her first gelato from a street vendor. (Note: No gelato street vendors near the Spanish Steps today, but there is a McDonald's.) We strolled from the Spanish Steps to the Trevi Fountain, where we threw our coins into this tourist trap, hoping to see Rome again. (Our guide said use left hand over right shoulder, but some people at the fountain from other tours said their guide said just the opposite. Doubt if it makes a difference!) Leaving the Trevi Fountain, we next walked to one of my favorite spots in Rome--the Pantheon. While at the Pantheon, we were given tickets to have a free gelato since we didn't get one at the steps. The gelato shop was very large, and about a block north of the Pantheon. After finishing the gelato, we walked by the Piazza Navona (another great spot) on our way to the bus, which picked us up near the Umberto bridge over the Tiber River.
By now it was about 1 pm, and the next stop was for a very leisurely lunch. We rode south of the city towards the catacombs area, and dined at a lovely restaurant called Ristorante Cecilia Metella. The restaurant was large, but I think we were the only group. Most of the other lunch diners looked/sounded like locals. We ate outside, which both mom and I love. The restaurant has been there for decades and was supposedly a favorite of Audrey and Gregory while they were in Rome making the movie. We were told they liked to escape away from the crowds to the country. The meal was one of the best I've had on a shore excursion. We started with prosciuuto and melon and then had a delicious (and very creamy) bowl of pasta with veggies. The main course was pan fried veal, potatoes, and a green salad. We also had plenty of white and red wine and good bread (and olive oil/balsamic vinegar for dipping). Dessert was a cake topped with a lemon-flavored meringue. Very good. After lunch, we all got a chance to have our photo taken on one of the old Vespas (scooters) used in the movie. The Vespa was definitely old, but in pristine condition. Our guide said it was one of many used in "Roman Holiday", and I guess I'll take her word on it.
Our last stop was at the Mouth of Truth, which none of us had visited, despite the fact that it is in the gallery outside the Santa Maria in Cosmedin church located on the Tiber River almost due west of the Colosseum next to the Circus Maximus. Other tourists had found the Mouth, and there was a line of about 15 minutes to stick your hand in the mouth. If you don't tell the truth, your hand is bitten off by some monster hidden inside the wall or something like that. This was one of the sweetest scenes in the movie, and we all had a good time. It costs 0.5 euros, and we hope the money is going to the church. Each person is only allowed one photo of themselves (either alone or with someone), and they were very srictly enforcing the rule.
On the way back to the ship, we saw about the first half of the movie. Not sure why they didn't show half of it on the way into Rome. The funny part was the guide could only get the movie in Spanish with English subtitles. Oh well, it was still fun. We returned to the ship about 6:30--very tired, but glad we had picked this tour.
Mom and I ate in the main dining room and neither of us was very hungry. I had a shrimp skewer appetizer, green salad, and grilled rare tuna. Mom had the shrimp and a veggie pasta. We sat with a couple from Toronto who winter in Florida who have been on the ship since May (a total of 24 days) and two guys from Brighton in the UK. No show since the Nieuw Amsterdam had a movie in the theater, so we were in bed by 10 pm. The ship sailed for Livorno in the evening.