Mediterranean Cruise 2008

July 19 - August 4

Here are some pictures from a vacation my parents and I took around Italy and Croatia. The vacation started in Rome, then boarded Royal Caribbean's Legend of the Seas from July 22-August 4 with ports of call in Portofino, Levorno (Florence & Tuscany), Messina (Sicily), Split (Croatia), Venice, Dubrovnik (Croatia), and finally Naples.

I've selected about 150 photos here, but you can view all ~1200 photos here (even the bad ones). If you see a photo you like, just click on it, and a full sized version of that photo will load in a new window (generally 3456x2592 pixels, or 8.9 megapixel, which is usually about 4MB).

So far I've only added explanatory comments for Rome, which are largely taken from Wikipedia, to which most of the links redirect to. In the future I'll add the same for the rest of the locations.

This web page is written in strict conformance with HTML 4.01. If your browser doesn't view it properly, then you probably need an update.

Info You can view a full sized version of any photo by clicking on it.


I once heard the expression "All History is a Celebration of Rome," and after seeing it, I agree!

When visiting Rome, you will see SPQR everywhere - on ancient ruins, on modern buildings, and especially on public works (like water works and sewers). SPQR is the Latin abbreviation for Senatus Populusque Romanus --- the Senate and People of Rome.


Piazza del Popolo

The Obelisk in the Piazza del Popolo was brought to Rome from Egypt by Cæsar Augustust and originally placed in the Circus Maximus. Pope Sixtus VI moved the Obelisk to the Piazza del Popolo in 1589. Obelisks were a highly prized military spoil, and an interesting fact is that today there are more than twice as many obelisks standing in Rome as remain in Egypt.
Piazza di Popolo    Obelisk in Piazza di Popolo    Inscription on Popolo Obelisk   

Column of Marcus Aurelius

The Column of Marcus Aurelius stands on its original location at the Piazza Colonna. It is modeled on the Column of Trajan, and celebrates the military campaigns of Emperor Marcus Aurelius in Germania during the second century A.D. As with Trajan's column, it is a hollow Doric column with a spiral releif and interior stair case, standing 100 feet tall. Pope Sixtus V restored the column in 1589, adding the statue of the apostle Paul to the top of the column.

Titus Column    Titus Column   

Vittoria Emanuele II Monument (Italian Unification)

After the fall of the Roman Empire, Italy was a loose confederation of city-states until it was united in 1861 under the reign of Victor Emmanuel. This monument, in honor of him and the Italian unification, borders the Roman Forum. Victor Emmanuel is buried in the Roman Pantheon.

Italian Unification Momument    Italian Unification Momument   

Trajan's Column, Trajan's Market & Trajan's Forum

Trajan's forum and markets are located just north of the Roman Forum. Trajan's Column is famous for its bas relief depicting the Dacian wars (the area now known as Romania, Moldova, Ukraine, Hungary and Bulgaria). The column is about 98 feet tall and was orginially topped with a statue of a bird (probably an eagle), then later a statue of Trajan himself (which disappeared sometime in the Middle Ages). In 1588, Pope Sixtus V placed statue of St. Peter atop the column, where it remains to this day.

Today, Trajan's forum is about 20 feet below current ground level and it is not possible to approach the base of it. The inscription on the base reads:

Which means, roughly,
The Senate and people of Rome [dedicate this to the] emperor Caesar, son of the divine Nerva, Nerva Traianus Augustus Germanicus Dacicus, pontifex maximus (high priest), in his 17th year holding power of the tribune, having been acclaimed 6 times as imperator, 6 times consul, pater patriae (father of his country), to demonstrate of what great height the hill [was] and place [that] was removed for such great works.

Trajans Column    Trajans Column    Trajans Forum & Markets    Roman Forum   

The Colennaded "Dei Fori Imperiali"

The Dei Fori Imperiali, formerly the Via Triumphale, was built by Benito Mussolini and makes a straight line from the Piazza Venezia to the Colosseum. It runs through the ancient Roman Forum and covers parts of the Forum of Trajan, Forum of Augustus and Forum of Nerva, parts of which can be seen on both sides of the road. The street is lined with statues of the Cæsars.

Mom and Dad    Me and Julius Caesar    Dei Fori Imperiali   

Forum Romanum

The Roman Forum (Latin: Forum Romanum) was the center around which the ancient Roman civilazation developed. It is located between the Palatine and the Capitoline hills. Today, the Dei Fori Imperiali (a road) covers part of the Forum. The Forum was orginially built on a wetland in the 7th century B.C. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the wetlands started reclaiming the Forum, silting it in, and by the Middle Ages, it was completely covered and being used as a cow pasture, which it remained until the late 18th century A.D. when excavations began.

For me, personally, this was the highlight of the trip. For a mere €13 (about $20) you can freely roam the same travertine-lined streets that the Cæsars did. It was an amazing experience to literally be standing on the Foundation of Western Civilization.

Roman Forum    Roman Forum    Temple of Saturn    Roman Forum    Roman Forum    Rock on which Julius Caesar was cremated    Temple of Saturn - Roman Forum    Temple of Saturn - Roman Forum    Arch of Titus   

The Colosseum

The Emporer Vespasian started construction of the Colosseum, in 72 A.D., but died before it was completed in 80 A.D. (under the Emperor Titus). It is officially known as the Flavian Ampitheater (Latin: Amphitheatrum Flavium). The name derives from Vespasian's and Titus's family name, Flavius. The Colosseum is generally identified with gladiatorial contests, but it was used for all manner of entertainments, including reenactments of batlles, animal hunts, and dramas. Mock naval battles were even put on by flooding the center.

The modern ruins are but a shell of the original building - which was originally clad in marble and had statues in each arch (which are now in the Vatican). An earthquake in 1349 collapsed the outer 2 walls on the south side, and throughout the medival period, the Colosseum was slowly stripped of its stone and marble. The outer walls are now pock marked with large holes because the bronze clamps, which orginally held the stone and marblework together, were hacked out and used for other purposes over the centuries.

Although the Church had taken much of the original Colosseum pieces, in the end it was the Church that saved the Colosseum and preserved it for posterity. In 1749, Pope Benedict XIV delared the Colosseum sacred, having been sanctified by the Christian martyrs who died there.

The Colosseum    Colosseum    Colosseum    Colosseum    Colosseum   

Triumphal Arches of the Forum Romanum

Arch of Titus

The Arch of Titus is the oldest remaining triumphal arch in the Roman Forum. It was constructed in c.82 AD by Emperor Domitian after the death of his older brother, Titus, to commemorate his victory in Jerusalem in 70 A.D. The Arch of Titus is the inspiration for many triumphal arches, including the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France.

The Latin inscription reads:


(Abbreviation Expanded: Senatus Populusque Romanus divo Tito divi Vespasiani filio Vespasiano Augusto)

Which means: "The Senate and People of Rome (dedicate this) to the divine Titus Vespasianus Augustus, son of the divine Vespasian."

Arch of Titus    Arch of Titus Arch of Titus

Arch of Septimius Severus

The Arch of Septimius Severus is a triumphal arch erected in AD 203 to commemorate the Parthian victories of Emperor Septimius Severus. It is situated at the foot of the Capitoline Hill between the Curia and the Rostra. Originally, the arch was topped with statues of the emperor and his two sons in a four-horse chariot (quadriga), accompanied by soldiers.

The Latin inscription reads:


Translated it reads:

To the Emperor Septimius Severus, Son of Marcus, Pius, Pertinax, Pater Patriae, Parthicus Arabicus, Parthicus Adiabenicus, Pontifex Maximus, having held the tribunician power 11 times, acclaimed emperor 11 times, Consul 3 times, Proconsul, and Emperor Marcus Aurelius (Caracalla), Son of Lucius, Antoninus, Augustus Pius, Felix, having held the auspicious tribunician power 6 times, Consul, Proconsul, Pater Patriae, Highest and Strongest Princes for having restored the State and enlarged the Empire of the Roman people, by their visible strengths at home and abroad, the Senate and People of Rome [made this]

During the Middle Ages repeated flooding of the low-lying Forum washed in so much additional sediment and debris that when Canaletto painted it in 1742, only the upper half of the Arch showed above ground. The well-preserved condition of the arch owes a good deal to its having been incorporated into the structure of a Christian church. When the church was refounded elsewhere, the arch remained ecclesiastical property and was not demolished for other construction.
Arch of Septimius Severus    Arch of Septimius Severus    Arch of Septimius Severus   

Arch of Constantine

The Arch of Constantine is the last of the (remaining) triumphal arches built in Rome. It was built in honor of Constantine the Great's victory over Maxentius at the Battle of Milvian Bridge in the year 312 A.D., which was a critical event in Western history.

According to Constantine, before the battle, with the legions falling into formation, he saw a vision in the sky of the Cross (or possibly chi-rho) with these words

(English: In this sign, conquer). Constantine won the battle, converted to Christianity and later issued the Edict of Milan, which ended the persecution of Christians (undertaken by his predecessor, Diocletian) and proclaimed religious toleration throughout the empire.

The Latin inscription on this arch is as follows (and is hard to read):

Which means roughly
To the Emperor Caesar Flavius Constantinus, the greatest, pious, and blessed Augustus: because he, inspired by the divine, and by the greatness of his mind, has delivered the state from the tyrant and all of his followers at the same time, with his army and just force of arms, the Senate and People of Rome have dedicated this arch, decorated with triumphs.

Arch of Constantine    Arch of Constantine    Arch of Constantine   

The Pantheon

The Roman Pantheon was built by Marcus Agrippa in 27 B.C. during his 3rd Consulship, which is what the inscription on the front of the building says:


(literally: Marcus Agrippa, Son of Lucus, during his 3rd Consulship, built this). It was orginially a temple dedicated to all the Roman gods.

The Pantheon was a masterpiece of ancient engineering, and remains the the largest unreinforced domed building in the world. The center of the roof is open, the oculus, and remains so today. In fact the day we visited it had briefly rained, and there was a little bit of water on the floor, but the orginal drainage system below the floor still seems to work.

The Pantheon was badly damaged in the great fire of 80 A.D. (while Nero fiddled, according to legend). The Emperor Hadrian rebuilt it in 125 A.D. In the year 609 A.D., the Emperor Phocas gave the Pantheon to Pope Boniface IV, which saved it from the terrible destruction that befell most of Rome's other ancient wonders during the Dark Ages (the period between the fall of the Roman Empire and the Renaissance). Boniface IV consecrated it Santa Maria ad Martyres (Latin); today it is known as Santa Maria dei Martiri in Italian, but most people still call it the Pantheon.

Roman Pantheon    Roman Pantheon    Roman Pantheon    Roman Pantheon    Roman Pantheon    Roman Pantheon   

Trevi Fountain

Trevi Fountain    Trevi Fountain    Trevi Fountain   

The Vatican

Vatican Map Room    Vatican    Vatican    Vatican    Vatican    Vatican    St Peters Basillica    St Peters Basillica    St Peters Basillica    St Peters Basillica    St Peters Basillica    St Peters Basillica    St Peters Basillica    St Peters Basillica    St Peters Basillica   


Portofino is an old Roman town on the Northern Italian coast (almost in France).

Portofino    Portofino   


The ship docked at Levorno. Florence is about an hours drive from the port.

Persius    Florence    Florence    Galileo Sarcophogus    Michaelangelos Sarcophogus    Dantes Sarcophogus    Dantes Sarcophogus   

The Duomo

The Duomo is the Cathedral of Florence, the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiori and is famous for the Baptistery Doors and the ornate Dome. The Latin inscription
are the words used by Pontius Pilate in the Vulgate [common Latin] translation of the Gospel of John (19:5), when he presented a scourged Jesus Christ, bound and crowned with thorns, to a hostile crowd shortly before his Crucifixion. The King James bible translates the phrase as Behold the Man. It is widely used in Christian art of the period.

Duomo - Florence    Duomo - Florence    Duomo - Florence    Duomo - Florence    Duomo - Florence    Duomo - Florence   

Tuscan Valley

San Giamgiango    San Giamgiango    San Giamgiango    San Giamgiango    San Giamgiango    Tuscan Contryside    Volterra    Volterra    Volterra    Volterra    Volterra   


We docked at Messina and took a bus tour to Taormina and then to Mt Etna, which has been erupting since 2002.

Messina    Mt Etna    Taormina    Taormina    Taormina    Taormina    Taormina    Taormina    Taormina    Mt Etna    Mt Etna    Mt Etna    Mt Etna   

Split, Croatia

Split Croatia    Split Croatia    Split Croatia    Split Croatia    Trigor Croatia    Trigor Croatia    Split Croatia   


Venice    Venice    Venice    Venice    Venice    Venice    Venice    Venice    Venice    Venice    Venice    Venice    Venice   

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Dubrovnik Croatia    Dubrovnik Croatia    Dubrovnik Croatia    Dubrovnik Croatia    Dubrovnik Croatia   



Pompeii    Pompeii    Pompeii    Pompeii    Pompeii    Pompeii    Pompeii    Pompeii    Pompeii    Pompeii    Pompeii    Pompeii    Pompeii    Pompeii    Pompeii    Pompeii    Pompeii    Pompeii    Pompeii    Pompeii    Pompeii    Pompeii   


Herculaneum    Herculaneum    Herculaneum    Herculaneum    Herculaneum    Herculaneum    Herculaneum    Herculaneum    Herculaneum    Herculaneum    Herculaneum    Herculaneum    Herculaneum    Herculaneum    Herculaneum    Herculaneum    Herculaneum    Herculaneum   

Fiumicino Airport Lounge

Mom, Dad (and me) say goodbye to Italy with a nice long wait in the airport lounge.

Fiumacino Airport Lounge   

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