The extraordinary beauty of Rome's surroundings unraveled in 10 fascinating daytrip ideas less than 100 km from the capital.
Rome and its surroundings are a triumph of beauty for which a lifetime may not be enough. What can sometimes be lacking is just the inspiration to let yourself be led to discover surprising experiences for your daytrip from Rome.
Here, in this article, among perched villages, ghost lakes, archaeological parks and villas of yesteryear, you will find 10 enchanting suggestions for exploring the most unusual, and sometimes lesser-known, surroundings of Rome.
10. Canale Monterano, the Ghost town close to Rome
One of the most extraordinary places in the Lazio region is located about 50 km north of Rome, in that area between Lake Bracciano and the sea.
Here lies Canale Monterano, a city that it seems to us that has been abandoned at the end of the XIX century just to let its legend triumph.
The origin of this place is ancient, maybe dating back to the Etruscan civilization, but it was not until the modern ages that this city could live its golden age. In fact, under the branches of the trees that now live on the ruins, you can find some XVII century pieces of art. The most famous ones were made by a certain artist, Gian Lorenzo Bernini.
The economic crisis and malaria transformed that town, around the years, into a bucolic place with beautiful paths, woods and streams, where nature can perfectly find its spot among history.
But if history is arousing so much curiosity in you, the next daytrip idea will certainly be perfect for you.
9. In Cerveteri, amazing traces of Etruscan civilization
About 60 km North from Rome you'll find Cerveteri, a place renowned all over the world also for being UNESCO Heritage in 2004.
In fact, here you can find the most fascinating traces of the Etruscan past. If you have ever been told about the Sarcophagus of the Spouses, now in Villa Giulia, it was here that it was found, inside the Necropolis of Banditaccia.
It's a surreal place to see because, much more than any other Etruscan necropolis, it really seems like a city of the dead. In fact it's possible to walk around its streets, but also see squares, houses and buildings. The tombs are arranged into several floors and each one has many rooms, but also stairs and corridors.
And if you wish to discover more, not so far away from here, there is another great symbol of Etruscan civilization: the city of Tarquinia.
8. Calcanta and the Valley of Treja, an experience out of this world
The historical borgo of Calcata. Picture taken from northeast, from the S. Maria di Castelvecchio on the other side of the Treja Valley (author: Orcer
In Viterbo province, very close to Bracciano lake, lies a magic place that nature has been able to steal from humanity to make its own masterpiece.
In the 30s, Calcata was a little town built on a tuffaceous hill. Fearing the danger of a possible collapse, the town was progressively abandoned. It was not until the 60s that it was discovered again. Calcata Vecchia (Calcata the Old), so named to distinguish it from the New one built on the Valley, became the perfect destination for painters, artists, photographers and hippies, so that today it can count on approximately 100 inhabitants.
The little village is far from anything (here you can get any cell range!), but it seems also a place full of something. It's like the atmosphere of Calcata is full of a particular spirituality able to attract artists and visitors looking for meaningful answers or, simpler than that, looking for inspiration.
Today Calcata is the perfect combination of man and nature: life here is slow, cadenced with the sound of the woods and the creativity of its visitors.
7. Tivoli, a walk through amazing villas
A timeless daytrip from Rome is represented by Tivoli, an elegant little town that lies 40 km north east from the Eternal City.
Villa d'Este, UNESCO Heritage from 2001, is maybe one of its most famous symbols. It has been built in the place of an ancient Roman villa, at the behest of the son of Lucrezia Borgia and Alfonso I, the cardinal Ippolito d'Este, and it's one of the most amazing examples of Italian rinascimental villa. Even more beautiful than the villa itself are the gardens: just to give you some numeric references, the gardens occupy a surface of 35.000 square meters, with 255 waterfalls, 50 fountains and 15.000 trees and ornamental plants.
Not so far from Villa d'Este entrance lies Villa Adriana, an archaeological park of extreme beauty, dating back to the golden age of the Roman empire. UNESCO Heritage from 1999, the villa was built by the will of Adrian emperor who wanted to take refuge from the chaos of Rome. In other words, it was intended as a place for otium, in the Roman way: not just a place to relax, but also to spend some quality time, reading, studying and what else.
Also the historical center of Tivoli can pleasantly surprise its visitors with its high buildings, once defensive houses.
6. Valmontone, where history meets contemporary
Visiting the province of Rome is the perfect daytrip not only for history enthusiasts but also for people looking for lively and peculiar alternatives.
Valmontone, strategically located 50 km South East from Rome, is the center of a touristic area that has been greatly developed in recent years.
The historical center, built on a tuffaceous hill, has been for a long time the most interesting town of the Papal State. Just think that the noble family of the Pamphilj felt so in love with the place that, in order to transform it into an Ideal City, decided to enrich it with beautiful churches, buildings and magnificent works of art. As a reference, have a look at the Prince Room inside the Doria-Pamphilj Palace.
Today, Valmontone is also a great symbol of international tourism. In fact, here you can find one of the biggest Italian theme parks, but also the most visited Italian shopping center, thanks to the presence of 180 branded stores: the Valmontone Outlet.
5. The town of Vignanello, a daytrip from Rome to delight the senses
The beautiful Vignanello is located 70 km North from the city of Rome, in the province of Viterbo. This area, called Tuscia, is so rich in rinascimental gardens like any other place in the world.
In fact, in Vignanello you'll find Castello Ruspoli, the perfect place for a daytrip from Rome. It was built in the XVI century, in the place of a benedictine monastery. The gardens were built a century later by the descendants of the Orsini-Farnese family, and even today they are able to show all the extraordinary beauty of the Italian Gardens to the visitors.
Vignanello, although a very small town, collects in itself strong traces of the past, but also an enviable gastronomic heritage. Gnocchi col ferro (a type of pasta) and acquacotta (a type of soup) are some of the most incredible local dishes to accompany delicious wine and oil tastings.
In other words, it's an experience no one would like to stop!
4. In Ostia, a walk in the Ancient Rome
There still remains so much to discover in the Archaeological Park of Ostia Antica which, together with Pompei, is one of the biggest in the world. More than half of the site is still left covered, but what has been unearthed is an extraordinary glimpse of daily life.
Ostia has lived a period of glory during the Roman ages as an important trade center. Some historians think that around the II century a population of nearly 50.000 people lived here, and most of them were merchants. So the city was rich, full of services and comforts, like temples, theaters, luxury houses.
And if walking through the ruins of the ancient city is a spectacular experience, it's also equally interesting visiting the medieval town. It's so fascinating that it has been chosen many times as a setting for movies and commercials.
3. Lake of Canterno: not just ghost towns, but also lakes
The mysterious Lake of Canterno lies in the province of Frosinone, 87 km away from the capital. It's one of the most magical destinations for a daytrip from Rome. The beautiful lake, in fact, is often chosen by the Romans for a regenerating stop, especially in summer.
So, where does the mystery of the lake come from?
To be perfectly honest, there are two secrets bound with the waters. Hidden by deciduous woods and oak trees, this lake has literally disappeared many times over the years. Sometimes it has been for months, but sometimes also for entire years. Being a carsic lake, it has been discovered that the water flew inside an underground cave so that the fish could continue living.
Now this mysterious phenomenon has been stabilized, but many questions have aroused also around its origins, probably dated back to the beginning of the XIX century. It seems that the valley on which now lies the lake was inhabited by many farmers: but from one day to the next, some floods destroyed every field and originated the lake.
2. Ariccia and its bridge, from where the gaze can go as far as the sea
If in the previous stop we discovered a ghost lake, in this new destination we'll find a place where the lake disappeared many centuries ago.
We are in the area called Castelli Romani (Romans Castles in Italian), the perfect location for a daytrip from Rome. Ariccia is one of the towns of Castelli Romani that was able to maintain the elegant beauty of its historical center, despite the violence of the IIWW.
Ariccia, in the past, was one of the stops of the Grand Tour, and here you can find great works of art by Bernini. Speaking not only from an urban planning point of view, but also architecturally, here the great artist devoted himself to many masterpieces.
Ariccia, anyway, is the place of the famous porchetta, many delicious wines and of an extraordinary building which has become, in the last years, an iconic spot. The 74 meters tall bridge, is an impressive work made last century. Sometimes, the gaze of those who pass it can go as far as the sea.
1. Subiaco, the town of monasteries in the Valley of Aniene
Santo Speco Monastery was built aroud the cave in which San Benedetto has lived for about 3 years as a hermit (photo taken by Simone Frignani)
This enchanting place, already known in Roman times for its green beauty, is nestled in lush nature. Here, in fact, within the Simbruini Mountains Regional Park, grows one of the most extensive centuries-old beech forests in Europe.
In addition to the wild charm of its landscape, however, Subiaco is also a place of history, and especially religious history. This village was for a long time the center of Benedictine life, so much so that the Way of St. Benedict from Norcia to Cassino, passes through here, home to no less than two monasteries, that of St. Scholastica and that of the Holy Speco.
And in addition to the Benedictine imprint, Subiaco collects in itself another great religious trace: the Rocca Abbaziale, also called Rocca dei Borgia, dating back to the 11th century. Built complete with defensive towers, prisons and a church, it was commissioned by Abbot John V for defensive purposes. According to some studies, it was within these mighty walls that Lucrezia Borgia was born.
Among these villages, nature parks and even fortresses and delicious food and wine experiences around Rome, there is definitely the idea for your next daytrip: therefore, you just have to pack as soon as possible.
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