Planning a trip to Rome? Why not squeeze in some exciting day trips into your itinerary? Sure, Rome packs a treasure trove of attractions, but the beautiful regions around the bustling city offer some of the most spectacular scenery and interesting sites that you may not otherwise get the opportunity to experience. Check out the following day trips from Rome.
Located at the mouth of the River Tiber, Ostia was Rome’s seaport, but, due to silting and a drop in sea level, the site now lies 3 kilometers (2 miles) from the sea. From Rome it takes about 45 minutes by metro and train to get to Ostia. The site is famous for the ancient apartment buildings (insula) that are very well preserved. You can explore these buildings to one story in height, with narrow stairways and corridors leading to small rooms. There are also the remains of more wealthy houses, such as the House of Cupid and Pysche, with very rich marble decorations.
A two-hour train ride from Rome to the lovely hill region of Umbria will bring you to the medieval town of Assisi where you can explore significant religious sites, Roman ruins and artistic beauty. The town’s main attraction is the Basilica of St. Francis, the eternal resting place of Italy’s patron saint. Most of the cobblestone streets in town lead to this beautiful cathedral where you can admire its exquisite architecture and interior ceilings and walls that are embellished with stunning frescoes. Surrounding the basilica, you will discover medieval houses and shops that are well worth a look. Other sites not to miss include Piazza del Comune, the town center, with its old clock tower, the Church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva with its Roman columns, and St. Claire’s Basilica, which offers scenic views of the valley below.
While in the Umbria region, you might also want to visit the charming town of Orvieto situated majestically on a big chunk of volcanic rock called tuff. Its impressive cathedral, the Duomo, which is considered one of Italy’s finest with its stunning mosaics and frescoes, influenced Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. It would certainly be well worth the time to explore the city’s labyrinth of underground tunnels. Carved 3,000 years ago from volcanic rock by the Etruscans to provide escape routes for the nobility, these elaborate tunnels contain grandiose rooms, stairs, cisterns and quarries. The city’s oldest church, San Giovenale, is also worth a visit as well as both the 14th century Albornoz Fortress and St. Patrick’s Well, which was uniquely designed to supply water for the city during war times.
All it takes is a one-hour trip from Rome to the small town of Tivoli to experience two of the most spectacular sites in the Lazio region, Hadrian’s Villa and Villa d’Este. Many tourists like to combine both of these villas into one instead of two day trips from Rome. A history lover’s paradise, Hadrian’s Villa features an impressive, sprawling complex of 30 ancient Roman structures that were built during the second century by the Emperor Hadrian as a retreat from the busy capital of Rome. Here, visitors can enjoy a glimpse into the lavishness of ancient Rome when you walk among the 250 acres of marble pavements, palaces, theaters, libraries, baths, temples and private quarters that once housed royal guardsman, attendants and slaves.
If you enjoy formal gardens, Villa d’Este is a must-do. Located on the opposite side of town from Hadrian’s Villa, this splendid estate features a lovely mansion, but it is the gardens that most visitors come to see. What makes these historic gardens so special is the Renaissance method of integrating unique water works and artistic features into the beautiful landscape. Stroll along winding and maze-like paths that offer a pleasant surprise at every turn like musical fountains, gorgeous statues, frescoed rooms and breathtaking waterfalls. If you can tear yourself away from the gardens, you will also find cozy little restaurants and boutiques along the narrow streets of this charming villa.
A day trip from Rome to the beautiful island of Capri requires a full day, but it is well worth it. After a train ride from Rome to Naples, you then will enjoy a scenic boat ride across the Gulf of Naples to the main port of Capri, Marina Grande. At this lively port, you can browse a variety of shops, savor great food at a terraced cafe and watch people passing by as well as colorful boats coming in and out. Capri offers several fantastic attractions, but the one not to miss is the Blue Grotto, a cave that reveals a brilliant reflection of blue and emerald-colored water. The cave can be accessed by a short boat ride from Marina Grande. Other attractions include Mount Solaro, Capri’s highest point. A chair lift takes visitors to the top of the mountain which offers stunning views of the island and sea. The lovely Villa San Michele in the town of Anacapri is also worth a visit with its stunning gardens, Phoenician steps, cafe and museum.
If a brief retreat is in order to relax and rest up after all your sightseeing in Rome, Positano just may be the place. Located off the Amalfi Coast, Positano is a picturesque village of multi-colored houses and quiet, pebbled beaches. To reach this beautiful oasis, you can take a train from Rome to Salerno, followed by a ferry ride to Positano. Feel free to bask in the Mediterranean sun while lounging on the beautiful beaches of Fornillo or Spiaggia Grande, or explore the nearby mountains to see beautiful waterfalls and rare species of plants and animals. Don’t miss out on a visit to the Church of Santa Maria Assunta, which features lovely architecture and a Black Madonna icon that is steeped in local legend.
No visit to Rome would be complete without a day trip to Pompeii. The fastest way to get to Italy’s most popular attraction is to take the train from Rome to Naples and then the Circumvesuviana train route to the ancient site. Both train rides together may take two hours, but you would never forgive yourself if you didn’t visit it after being so nearby it. With either a guided tour or an audio tour, you can walk among the streets of this ruined metropolis to learn about its history and see what remains of 2,000 year old shops, restaurants, residential homes, baths and brothels as well as political, religious and commercial centers. There are also plastered body casts of actual people who died in the catastrophic volcanic eruption of 79 AD. The National Archeological Museum of Pompeii contains a fascinating collection of artifacts and art works that were excavated from the Pompeii site.