Top places to visit near Rome
Away from the city’s hustle and bustle, there are a handful of places to visit near Rome that are usually left unseen.
The Lazio region, where Rome is the Capital, has so much to offer to those looking for an escape from the chaos of the city and enjoy some healthy relaxation amidst history, art, nature, and good food.
Often forgotten by tourists because obscured by the brightness of the Eternal City,
these hidden gems near Rome offer a more genuine atmosphere and turn to be even a great alternative base when visiting Rome.
It is no coincidence that until a few years ago, before the accommodation lists in Rome were reorganized on Tripadvisor, the structures of the metropolitan city of Rome were successful candidates to excel in the top 3 of Rome’s B & Bs.
Let’s go through some of the stunning places to visit near Rome.
If you want to know more about it, read our story on Tripadvisor.
Table of Contents
Zagarolo is our home town. Immersed in a verdant territory on which many emperors and the pope built their residences. The hilltop town of Zagarolo was built between 1100 and 1500. It was the protagonist of important historical and religious events and given its importance, is one of the few places on the outskirt of Rome represented on the tapestries present in the Vatican and depicting the map of Italy.
The town of Zagarolo binds much of its history to the noble Roman Colonna family, the protagonist of the Avignon captivity which determined the transfer of the papacy to France for 60 long years.
Events such as Caravaggio fleeing Rome, the vulgate of the bible (revision of the different versions of the sacred texts and translation into Latin) are also connected to Zagarolo and his palace.
The noble palace originally built by the Colonna family now houses a beautiful toy museum.
Palestrina, throughout the Catholic world, recalls some of the polyphonic music played in religious ceremonies. Well, this is the birthplace of Pierluigi da (from) Palestrina whose work is considered the pinnacle of Renaissance polyphony.
The fame of the city of Palestrina is much older. Known in ancient times as “Praeneste”, being able to control the trade and communication route between north and south, it was a very important center already around the 8th century B.C.
Within its walls stood the Sactuary of the Primordial Fortune, accidentally brought to light following the bombings of the Second World War which heavily involved the whole area.
Recognized as the most important monument of the Republican era in Lazio, is still pretty unknown to the tourist world.
Castel San Pietro Romano
Castel San Pietro Romano is one of the hidden gems of the Metropolitan City of Rome.
Perfectly integrated with the mountain on which it is built, was classified in 2018 as one of the most beautiful villages in Italy.
When in the 50s and 60s Rome’s film studios competed with Hollywood ones thanks to its quiet, its cobbled streets, and the wonderful panorama of Castel San Pietro Romano, it was used as a film set.
Along its streets, several posters depicting some of the films shot along the streets of the town involving the inhabitants themselves as extras.
Honorary citizen of Castel San Pietro Romano is the famous Gina Lollobrigida, the protagonist of several films shot in the country.
Subiaco, overlooking the Simbruini Mountains, offers a considerable number of places of great naturalistic interest such as woods, forests, and ponds with which to enter into perfect harmony.
Considered one of the most fascinating villages in Italy, Subiaco was the seat of the summer residence of Emperor Nero. The town of Subiaco takes its name from the system of barriers built along the Aniene river to create artificial lakes that could adorn and make his residence more beautiful.
Of particular interest is the medieval village of the Opifici, home until a few years ago of the ancient workshops of the artisans, and the religious buildings that give an unmistakable charm to the landscape.
Among the most evocative are the monasteries of Santa Scholastica and San Benedetto, of which the Gothic and Cosmatesque cloisters and the frescoes of the elegant neoclassical church.
Tivoli, a few kilometers from Zagarolo is a treasure chest of hidden treasures.
Despite its beauty, while the great tourist flow heads to Rome, Tivoli still remains known to few. Favorite of popes, cardinals, and emperors who helped to chisel its face, making it so fascinating that it was even included in the Italic Grand Tour of many artists and writers.
In addition to the historical part of the city, the following deserve to be visited:
Villa d’Este, a Renaissance architectural masterpiece. Included in the Unesco World Heritage Site, Villa d’Este is particularly known for its incredible garden, in Mannerist and Baroque style, considered one of the most beautiful in Europe.
Hadrian’s Villa, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of the most famous archaeological sites in Italy. The archaeological area beautifully conveys the sense of the power of Rome and the magnificence of the complex residence of Emperor Hadrian which included palaces, gardens, temples, and theaters.
Villa Gregoriana is a fascinating naturalistic area. The park, built entirely in a romantic style, is a succession of woods, paths, caves and waterfalls capable of bewitching visitors from all over Italy and beyond. An ideal place for those who love nature.
Bracciano, is located in the heart of the Bracciano-Martignano regional natural park, one of the protected areas of Lazio. This characteristic lake of volcanic origin is the third-largest in Central Italy,
Bracciano stands out in the eyes of the visitor above all for the imposing castle, visible from considerable distances. The splendid Castle stands majestically with its tall and mighty circular towers. Almost completely surrounded by climbing plants, whose colors change in every season, they offer a very romantic spectacle.
Built in the fifteenth century, it preserves inside, magnificent frescoes and period furniture, and is considered one of the most elegant fortified stately homes in Italy.
The alleys of the ancient village of Bracciano, one of the most picturesque in Roman Tuscia, wind around the castle. The peculiar characteristic of the village, in fact, is constituted by the houses built entirely with the local lava stone. A pleasant scenario, therefore, which, however, must not be misleading.
Calcata, the village of witches, between magic and reality.
Perched on the tip of a tuff mountain, Calcata is within the Valle del Treja Regional Park from which various nature trails branch off on foot and horseback.
The first traces of the Calcata Vecchia civilization date back to the VIII-VII century BC but it is during the papacy of Hadrian I (772-795) that, thanks to the fertility of its lands, it win popularity, becoming one of the papal estates destined to guarantee supplies. From Rome.
Following a fascist law that forcedt its evacuation for security reasons dictated by the potential instability of the tuff block, it was inhabited by very few diehards until, in the 70s, the Roman hippies identified it as the headquarters of a sociey to be refunded.
Artists, mainly from the United States, Belgium, and Holland, quickly transformed the village into an open-air academy.
Finally, a law from the ’90s definitively saved the town from forced evacuation and legitimized its occupation.
The necropolis extends for about 400 hectares, of which only 10 hectares can be visited, containing about 400 tombs.
Inside the necropolis, it is possible to visit a series of pre-Roman tombs, some with fragments of wall paintings. The well-preserved details of the interior of these tombs allowed archaeologists to learn about the home uses of the Etruscans.
Many of the artifacts found in the necropolis, including vases of Etruscan, Greek, and southern Italian production are collected in the Cerveteri Museum, housed in the Ruspoli castle located in the historic center of the town, and displayed at the National Etruscan Museum of Villa Giulia in Rome.
Ostia Antica, together with Pompeii, is the largest archaeological site in the world. To date, of its area of 150 hectares, only 40% has been unearthed.
The first historical evidence of an urban settlement dates back to 396 when, following the victory over the nearby Etruscan city of Veio, the Roman legionaries installed a defensive garrison where the river flowed into the Tyrrhenian Sea. The strategic position, close to the mouth of the river, thus made it possible to defend Rome from any assaults by river and to sort the commercial goods destined to Rome and the export.
Inhabited and frequented above all by officials, traders, soldiers, Ostia was recognized as a cosmopolitan, perhaps even more varied than the Capitoline city. Having reached its maximum prestige under Emperor Hadrian, it undergoes a slow decline due to the difficult navigation of the river whose course had changed.
Today, in addition to the archaeological park, it is possible to appreciate a small medieval ‘borgo’ with the main square of immense charm and lovely castle.
Nemi, whether you’re interested in mythology, history, food, or authentic Italian small-town this town will capture you.
Perched on the lip of a volcanic crater, the town is best known for its wild strawberries but historical fact and mythology are what fascinates most.
Notorious Roman emperor Caligula had ceremonial barges on Lake Nemi that resembled a floating palace and housed a temple that honored the divinities. Using techniques considered revolutionary and advanced for the time, the ships are considered to be engineering marvels, The legends of Caligula’s ships remained a mystery until Mussolini ordered the lake to be drained and its remains recovered in a museum that was damaged by a fire damaged during the II° WW. Restored and reopened in 1953, it currently houses scale replicas of the ships and an interesting video in which you can admire the recovery work and the majesty of the ships and their artifacts.
Castel Gandolfo, classified as one of the most beautiful villages in Italy, is built on the slopes of Lake Albano which together with that of Nemi is the result of a gigantic explosion of the Lazio volcano whose activity began about 600,000 years ago and has continued. until about 355,000 years ago.
In addition to the beauty of the landscape that surrounds it, the town of Castel Gandolfo is known to international tourism thanks also to the presence of the summer residence of the Popes, now open to the public, which is crowned by many other summer residences, villas, and cottages built starting from 17th century.
For enthusiasts, Castel Gandolfo also has a beautiful golf course.
Sermoneta, is one of the most beautiful villages in Lazio. The town is entirely surrounded by fortified walls built starting from 1200. At the end of the century, became a fief of the Caetani family, who settled in the castle, still called with their name today.
An important piece of history is owed to the Caetani family, originally from Anagni, whose protagonist was Benedetto Caetani, better known as Pope Boniface VIII.
Excommunicated by the Borgias in the late 1400s, the Caetani family had to abandon the village and all its possessions were confiscated.
Subsequently, the people of Sermoneta, who have always been faithful and loyal to the Caetani, helped the family by all means to regain possession of the village and the castle which returned and remained under their control until contemporary times.
Sermoneta is also famous because it preserves traces of the presence of the Knights Templar, one of the best-known Christian religious orders of the Middle Ages. In fact, all the sacred buildings of Sermoneta have a clear Cistercian imprint, an order linked to the Templar.
The Garden of Ninfa
The Garden of Ninfa, was built by the Caetani family, on the ruins of the homonymous medieval city that was destroyed and rebuilt several times. At the end of the 19th century, returned to the possession of the Caetani family,who, having reclaimed the marshes, planted large numbers of trees and shrubs. giving life to an Anglo-Saxon-style garden with a romantic look.
Towards 1930, thanks to the sensitivity of Marguerite Chapin and her daughter Leila, the garden began to acquire the charm that distinguishes it today: eight hectares with 1300 species of plants that include 19 varieties of magnolia, birch, aquatic iris, and Japanese maple.
Looking like a picturesque ruin with remains of a castle, palaces, churches, medieval bell towers, all embraced by rich vegetation inspired the pears of famous writers such as Virginia Woolf, Truman Capote, Ungaretti and Moravia.
The visit is particularly pleasant in April and May.
Anagni, known as the city of the Popes, was the papal residence and birthplace of four popes (Gregory IX, Boniface VIII, Alexander IV, and Innocent III).
The so-called Schiaffo di Anagni (Anagni’s slap) remains famous in history; the act that led to the arrest of Pope Boniface VIII and the transfer of the papal seat to Avignon in France for 60 years.
Among the beauties of the city, the Cathedral of Anagni that houses the Oratory of St. Thomas Becket and the Crypt of San Magno: one of the most beautiful pictorial cycles that the Middle Ages left us.
With its 540 square meters of painting, it deals with and explains the history of man’s Salvation from its origin to his divine Judgment.
For its incomparable beauty, the Crypt is defined as the “Sistine Chapel of the thirteenth century”.
The Royal Palace of Caserta
The Royal Palace of Caserta, is the largest royal residence in the world, as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In 1751, having bought the fiefdom of Caserta from the Caetani di Sermoneta family, the King of Naples Carlo di Borbone, sent the architect Luigi Vanvitelli to build a summer residence that was superior to all other Europeans due to its beauty, grandeur, and majesty. At the same time, it was further from the sea than the Royal Palace of Naples, to save itself in the event of an attack by the French fleet.
The palace consists of a large park and a building of 47,000 square meters on five floors comprising 1,200 rooms, 34 stairways, 1,742 windows.
Inside the palace you can visit the floor intended for the Royal Family, the Representation Rooms and the Old Apartment, while outside there is the park with an English Garden where you can admire the famous Carrara marble statue “Bagno di Venere “.
Pompei and Amalfi Coast in 1 day
Both Pompei and Amalfi Coast are part of the top list of things to do in Italy. Especially if short in time, our Pompei and Amalfi coast in 1 day can help you to get get the most from both.
After a self-guided tour of the excavations (guided tour available on request), once we have tasted good Italian food, we will reach the bottom of the Amalfi Coast and go up it through its wonderful villages and stop for a quick visit of a couple of them.
In addition to the well-known tourist destinations such as Amalfi and Positano, you will be able to appreciate some wonderful places still little known to mass tourism that keep intact that authentic and typically Italian charm.
If it is true that there are some beautiful places to visit near Rome, we will never stop promoting the wonders of Rome by offering alternative routes and our tour of Rome by night that will allow you to enjoy Rome even if short in time.
Rome at night
Visiting Rome at night away from the crowds and the summer heat is an unforgettable experience.
Having the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish steps, the Colosseum, the Pantheon, and the Vatican all to yourself is unparalleled but the beauty of Rome at night does not end there.
In the quiet of the night, we will be able to appreciate beautiful corners of Rome very little known to most tourists
Together, we will travel through history: from the Roman Empire to today trying to understand how Italy has changed over the centuries and what are cultural and gastronomic legacies are still tangible.
After this tour, you will be able to see Rome and Italy with completely different eyes.
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