I definitely recommend arriving in Rome a few days before the cruise starts. If there's a problem with the flight you won't worry about missing the ship. It also gives you a day or two to get over jet-lag. We arrived Wed. morning from Atlanta. We had plenty of Marriott reward points, so we stayed there for free. There's a shuttle that takes you to the center of town (10 Euro). We were lazy on Wednesday. Thursday was dreary so we stayed at the hotel. Friday we took the shuttle in with a couple we met on the transfer to the hotel. We went on a city bus tour (open top). We arranged for a tour of the catacombs where the early Christians buried their saints, popes and martyrs. Then we just did some exploring. We had seen the major attractions on a previous trip. We went to the port Saturday morning clean and refreshed and ready.
This was a 2 hour bus ride into a couple of small Tuscan towns. My wife chose this one because one of the towns is the home of the vampire king in True Blood or one of those vampire things. The movie wasn't made there, and the tour guide pretends to know nothing about it. My wife was crushed. We had lunch at what used to be a farmhouse. The other town had a lot of shopping and the self-proclaimed "world's best ice cream." Then a 2 hour ride back, arriving only 15 minutes before removal of the gangway. I wouldn't have chosen it, but my wife was happy.
We decided for an aerial view, so we went to the lighthouse. It wasn't a bad walk from the ship, but make sure you get good directions. Then we walked back into town and saw some of the old churches and "castles." We did a little shopping and called it a day.
How many churches can there be in a 2-3 square mile area?? Too many. If that's your thing you'll enjoy this because of the history and the architecture and the artwork. You can spend as much time as you like at a site then skip a couple that don't appeal to you. There was a Christmas market set up in front of the cathedral which was nice. From this area back to the ship there's a long street blocked off for pedestrians with a lot of interesting stuff, plus several restaurants.
We had something scheduled but there was a time change the night before and we hadn't reset our clocks so we missed it. We went out for a walk, but there's nothing exciting within close range of the dock. We were in Tenerife for a week on a previous trip, so we weren't too disappointed.