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.
Anyone interested in military history might want to visit Anzio, an ancient coastal city 52 km (32 miles) from Rome. Battles were being fought here as early as the fifth century BC. In more recent times, Allied forces launched their campaign to conquer Italy with an amphibious landing in January 1944. Photos of the landing and battle can be found at the Beachead Museum. Travelers may wish to visit the cemeteries where British and American troops are buried. In-between battles, Anzio is a fishing port and ferry terminal to the Pontine Islands. The city is a good place to see old Roman villas or a Roman tower as well as WWII foxholes at Riserva Naturale di Tor Caldara. The aroma of seawater may lure visitors to the port where they can see the fishing fleet and eat the city‘s famous fish. Sun seekers can spend time on sandy beaches, including the popular Blue Bay.
Gritty Naples is a city of superlatives. It is the third largest city in Italy. It was the most bombed Italian city in World War II. It has the largest historic city center in Europe, most appropriate since it is one of the longest continuously inhabited cities in the world, dating back 2800 years. With 448 old churches out of 1,000 churches, it is one of the most Catholic cities in the world.
Naples Cathedral is the main church; each September it honors the city’s patron saint, Saint Januarius, with a miracle: The saint’s dried blood becomes liquid when near his relics. The city’s main square, the Piazza del Plescito, is home to Italy’s oldest opera house. Naples also is known for its many castles, including Castel Nuovo, a city landmark, and the 13th century Saint Elmo’s castle, built in the shape of a star. Naples has great museums such as Naples National Archaeological Museum with one of the biggest collections of Roman Empire artifacts.
Unknowing travelers might think Castelli Romani referred to a single old Roman castle. They’d be wrong. Castelli Romani is a collection of 13 picturesque towns in the Alban Hills just a few miles south of Rome. Ancient Romans went there to escape the hustle and bustle of the city; modern Romans still follow that tradition. One of the towns is Castel Gandolfo, one of Italy’s most historic towns and the most popular of the Castelli Romani towns. It also is the pope’s summer home; a former palace is now a museum. The region offers scenic caldera lakes and lush forests punctuated with vineyards. It is one of Italy’s top wine-growing regions. This is where Frascati, which can be white or red, comes from; for centuries it’s been a very popular wine among Romans. Don’t pass up a chance to drink Frascati where it’s made, the village of Frascati.
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.
Florence may be 260 km (160 miles) from Rome, but a high speed train whisks visitors to this Renaissance city in 90 minutes, making a day trip feasible. Once there, visitors will have to make some tough choices since only one day in this city isn’t long enough to see everything. A must-see is the Duomo, Florence’s cathedral that is about a half-hour walk from Santa Maria Novella train station. Comfortable walking shoes are a must since cobblestone streets are narrow and uneven. The world-class Uffizi art gallery showcases the best Italian Renaissance artists Travelers can ogle the over-the-top wealth of the Medici family at the Pitti Palace or just wander the streets in the historic center seeking statuary, such as the replica of Michelangelo’s David (the original is at the Accademia museum). End the day nibbling a gelato cone and walking across the Ponte Vecchio over the Arno River.
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.
Stunning scenery is what the Amalfi Coast is all about: picturesque towns built on hills and cliffs that drop off into the sea below. Some towns are built right up to the water, with craggy mountains as the backdrop. No wonder the Amalfi Coast is one of Italy’s most popular tourist destinations. The region is popular with celebrities, especially Positano with its glitzy boutiques. Perhaps they fell in love with the region while filming movies and TV shows here; that’s very easy to do here. It’s also easy to fall in love with limoncello, a liqueur made from Amalfi lemons. The Amalfi Coast is dotted with quaint villages, each with at least one old church worth visiting and some with palatial Roman villas. Located between the gulfs of Naples and Salerno, there’s only one very scenic road through the region, but the towns are easily accessible by ferry.
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.