8 Day Trips From Rome: Where the Locals Go
If you are traveling to Italy, chances are Rome is in your itinerary. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been to the Eternal City or not, Rome is always worth a visit, and that goes double for the surrounding areas. Get ready to discover some of the best off-the-beaten-path spots with these 8 day trips from Rome that get this native Roman’s stamp of approval!
Lazio, the Region Beyond the Capital
Rome sits in the middle of the Lazio region near several smaller provinces. They are Latina, Frosinone, Viterbo, and Rieti. Lazio borders the portion of the Mediterranean Sea called the Tyrrhenian. Along its coast you’ll find a string of low-key beach resorts frequented by locals. Even with these prime vacation spots, it remains virtually unknown to travelers.
This overlooked region isn’t lacking in natural beauty or cultural monuments. Beyond Rome, Lazio has some very diverse geography. From volcanic lakes to sandy beaches. To the North you’ll even start to see rolling hills that might make you wonder how you ended up in Tuscany. The South and East portions of the region are home to the sharp Apennine mountains.
As the old saying goes, all roads lead to Rome. The city is dated to 753 BC, where it expanded to become the “Capital of the World” (Caput Mundi). Its vast empire stretched from Spain to the Middle East, and from North Africa to Northern England. Rome was unrivaled until it fell to the Germanic barbarians in the 5th century. Not all was lost, however, many of its proudest monuments still survive. If you head out to the surrounding countryside you’ll find a few of these relics of the old world. Ancient sites like Ostia Antica and the UNESCO-listed Villa Adriana at Tivoli are just a few you can visit.
So where should you go? Today, we’ll cover some of our favorite day trips from Rome. From the lesser-known corners to secluded beaches and remote regional villages.
Day Trips from Rome
1. Tivoli (45min. from Rome)
Step back in time and walk the grounds where ancient Roman Emperors took their retreats from the hustle and bustle of Rome. Commissioned by Emperor Hadrian in 2 AD, you’ll find fountains, baths, mosaics, and sculptures galore. Most interestingly, there’s even a network of underground tunnels, presumably for the emperor’s servants to get around.
This 16th century villa belonged to Cardinal Ippolito II d’Este. As a patron of the arts, he went broke filling the villa with art and antiques. Parts of his collection were even taken from Villa Adriana! After his passing, it became too expensive for the d’Este family to maintain the villa. It’s easy to see why, everything about Villa d’Este is elaborate and spectacular. Sprawling gardens, luxurious fountains, and countless sculptures, there’s a lot to tend to. Luckily, after the first World War, the Italian state took over and restored it. You can now visit the grounds and its on-site museum loaded with art.
2. Viterbo (1.5 hrs. from Rome)
Viterbo is a 1000 year old medieval city with Etruscan roots. The surrounding stone walls of the city center protect it from invaders. Clearly they’re effective as Viterbo’s medieval structures remain as some of the most pristine in the country.
Founded by the Etruscans, Civita di Bagnoregio has been through a lot. Thanks to its position perched atop a plateau, it’s constantly at war with erosion. Whole sections of the town have crumbled down the plateau’s edges over the centuries. You can only reach it via a narrow bridge, so there aren’t any cars. Needless to say, you’ll probably want to see this one before nature takes it back!
Palazzo dei Papi (The Papal Palace)
The Papal Palace of Viterbo, known for its amazing facade, is one of the highlights of the city. Built around 1266, it’s seen the election of several popes. While primarily a Medieval structure, the palace has some Renaissance features as well. If all the walking has tired you out, make plans to visit the nearby Terme dei Papi for a soak in their thermal springs. Other spa treatments are also available, so feel free to treat yourself, you’re on vacation after all!
3. Tarquinia (1.5 hrs. from Rome)
Formerly known as Corneto, its name was changed to Tarquinia in 1922 to honor its ancient Etruscan roots. The city is rich in Iron Age history thanks to extensive Etruscan burial grounds and tombs. You can visit the necropolis, as well as the museum, which hosts a wealth of Etruscan archeology. If you’re looking for a great alternative to Ostia Antica, Tarquinia checks all the boxes.
4. Frascati (40mins. from Rome)
Southeast of Rome, with a history dating back to ancient Roman times, sits the town of Frascati.
Frascati DOC Wine
It’s not Italy without wine! Try the local Frascati DOC Wine, you won’t be disappointed. This is a white wine that was the first Italian wine to receive DOC status back in 1966. Two Frascati wines also received DOCG status. The Frascati Superiore white wine and Cannellino di Frascati dessert wine both received this status in 2011. We’ll drink to that.
A 16-17th century villa built with the intention of hosting the Pope. While the villa itself is closed to the public, you can visit the gardens. Thanks to its position, you can get a great view of Rome and the surrounding countryside. Still owned by the original family, restoration work on the villa began in 2011, but appears to be at a stand still. Hopefully things improve, or this piece of history may be lost to the ages.
5. Castel Gandolfo (40min. from Rome)
If you’re a pope looking for a break from the craziness of Vatican City where do you go? To your summer retreat in Castel Gandolfo of course! Walk the impressive gardens that come alive in the spring and take in the beautiful old architecture of the Pope’s Summer Residence. Unlike his predecessors, Pope Francis doesn’t spend a whole lot of time here, so if you think you’ll be running into him, don’t get your hopes up.
Lake Albano is a volcanic crater lake with a beautiful, lush landscape. In addition to some stellar views, you can rent a paddle boat, or enjoy the establishments along its borders. You’ll find plenty of restaurants, cafes, and small shops.
Bernini’s St. Thomas of Villanova Church
A beautiful 17th century church by sculptor and architect Bernini. The church’s dome and selection of religious paintings are its main attractions.
6. Ariccia (45min. from Rome)
Ariccia has a long and interesting history to uncover. You’ll find more works of Bernini as well as ruins of the Via Appia Antica and Emperor Vitellius’s villa.
Another famous creation by Bernini for Pope Alexander VII. Modest on the outside, but full of the ornate Baroque style Bernini is known for on the inside.
While in Ariccia be sure to try porchetta, a local specialty of spit-roasted pork with fresh herbs. You can enjoy it on it’s own or in a panini. Porchetta consists of a pork roast, de-boned, skin-on, salted, stuffed with liver, fennel, garlic, rosemary, and other local herbs. It’s then either spit, or slow roasted over a wood fire for a minimum of 8 hours. Just in case you feel up to the challenge of recreating it at home.
7. Bracciano (1hr. from Rome)
Like Lake Albano, Lake Bracciano is another volcanic crater lake. As one of the cleanest lakes in Italy, it’s perfect for sailing, canoeing, and swimming. Use of Motorized boats are limited to professional fisherman and police, keeping the lake pristine. There are plenty of places to eat and sample the local fish.
This 15th century castle is the largest in Italy and was once home to the infamous Borgia family. The castle houses a museum and hosts cultural events.
8. Anzio & Nettuno (1hr. from Rome)
Fishing is a big deal in this coastal town. There are no shortages of local restaurants serving up the daily catch.
A museum dedicated to the WWII amphibian landing in Anzio. It also hosts an archaeological museum. Everything resides in the 17th century Villa Adele.
BONUS: Sperlonga (2hrs. from Rome)
Last, but certainly not least in our list of day trips from Rome, is the picturesque cliff town of Sperlonga.
Below the Medieval cliff town of Sperlonga sits a gorgeous beach. Need we say more? Soak up the sun, and go for a swim. Most tourists don’t know this place exists, so you’ll get that true local experience.
Built in the 17th century to ward off pirates, the tower features great views of Sperlonga. Climb to the top and be sure to bring your camera!
These are the ruins of Emperor Tiberius of Rome’s summer home. Little is left of the villa, aside from the grotto. The on-site museum features the grotto’s many artifacts. Literature buffs will enjoy the ancient statues depicting scenes from Homer’s Odyssey. Fun fact: Sperlonga is believed to be where Odysseus lands in Homer’s epic poem.
We hope this list inspires your future day trips from Rome! If you are planning your trip to Italy, let us help you!
Have you ever taken any of these day trips from Rome? Do you have any others to recommend? Let us know in the comments below!
Silvia believes that the best way to travel is from a local perspective – do as the locals do, go where the locals go, and eat where the locals eat.