June 6, 2023

Spanning out from the everlasting metropolis, the area of Lazio is sprinkled with a plethora of small cities and gorgeous villages close to Rome ready to be relished, and with far fewer guests, they practically all ship a tranquil escape, particularly exterior of the summer time season.

In fact, tearing your self away from the nation’s attraction-packed, sightseeing-centric and footfall-heavy capital is a troublesome determination to make. Nevertheless, if you happen to’re not within the temper for a continuous metropolis break and as a substitute wish to decelerate and savour the nice issues in life alongside the most effective Italian experiences, the numerous small cities in Italy near Rome promise loads of historic perception nonetheless however served up with a way more laid-back ambiance.

Lately, I heeded that invitation and set out by myself Viaggio Italiano to find a number of the finest locations close to Rome to go to by practice, bus, and the occasional taxi. Making an attempt to maintain sustainable journey on the forefront of my thoughts, I found even the loftiest hilltop villages had been accessible with a little bit persistence and planning, with loads of treasures awaiting after the climb.

Whereas every of the 5 provinces that make up Lazio all provide their very own tradition, delicacies and loads of picture-perfect day journeys from Rome, I shortly realised that each borgo (small Italian villages, borghi is the plural) promised one thing in widespread.

The magic of those locations was the possibility to get pleasure from a slower tempo of life, join with the local people, and uncover quite a few historic websites and tales that maybe a day journey wouldn’t enable, so do your self a favour and keep some time. 

In fact, these awarded the ‘I Borghi più Belli d’Italia‘ (most stunning villages in Italy) title had been ravishing, however every one I set foot in had its personal fascinating allure, and I hope you discover the possibility to craft your personal unforgettable journey via Lazio, removed from the crowds of Rome.

Listed here are 15 of probably the most stunning villages close to Rome I lately found, damaged up into the 5 provinces throughout central, northern and southern Lazio, and shortly, I’ll add extra in-depth guides to every of those villages close to Rome on my Italy journey weblog pages.

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Throughout the better metropolitan and close by space, you’ll discover loads of stunning spots to flee from the town’s busy sights, and dependable public transport connections guarantee a simple journey.

Components of this land are referred to as Castelli Romani because of the quite a few castles round, which means you possibly can depend on these locations to go to close to Rome to be full of historical past, photogenic panoramas, and loads of memorable moments with out venturing too far into the Lazio area.

Castel Gandolfo sitting high above the lake
Castel Gandolfo sitting excessive above the lake

Castel Gandolfo

Why go to? Spectacular lake views coupled with the unbelievable summer time residence of the Pope

Castel Gandolfo is usually considered probably the most stunning small cities close to Rome, one thing that even the Pope would attest to as it’s right here he has his summer time residence, the Papal Palace. 

That was till 2014 when Pope Francis opened the palace and gardens to the general public, and now they’re a preferred vacationer attraction, typically mixed with a go to to the Vatican metropolis. Whereas I didn’t tour them this time (e-book tickets prematurely), I discovered different methods to benefit from the borgo and spent a couple of nights right here. This, I discovered, allowed me to benefit from the village in a slumber, as being probably the most widespread locations close to Rome to go to by practice on a fast day journey, it may possibly really feel fairly crowded throughout the holidays or weekends.

Past the palaces and church buildings, I discovered sufficient to maintain me busy. From taking boat excursions and kayaking on Lake Albano, the cerulean-hued and turquoise-fringed volcanic crater lake beneath, to devouring the regional pasta specialities, similar to cellitti coasted in a porcini mushroom sauce. The native white wine, Colli Albani, additionally featured closely throughout the evenings spent on my house’s balcony overlooking the lake.

For such a notable vacation spot, it’s comparatively small, however definitely not with out its allure. Whereas the imposing entrance gates, the 1624-built palace, and spectacular church buildings are all classical, you’ll discover a modern eating scene right here, with stylish eating places, lots of which appeared to have been designed with Instagram in thoughts. 

Considered one of my favorite moments got here in La Musa Mosaici, the place I learnt to hammer stone items and craft a mosaic. Whereas my design definitely wasn’t going to compete with the various Roman masterpieces present in Lazio, I got here away with a brand new appreciation for this difficult artwork type.

Close by, you’ll discover a number of the different most pleasant villages close to Rome, similar to Ariccia, Lanuvio and Nemi, so Castel Gandolfo serves as a good base for each hamlet hopping, but additionally exploring Rome if you happen to don’t wish to keep within the capital correct.

Prime tip: Keep away from the weekends (and peak season) to skip the crowds, and if you’d like one thing enjoyable to do, take a 90-minute mosaic class.

How you can get there? By practice from Rome, the journey to Castel Gandolfo takes round 45-minutes, with a brief stroll uphill after. By automobile, if there is no such thing as a visitors, you’ll arrive in beneath 30-minutes.

The place to remain? Whereas Castel Gandolfo is an efficient choice for a day journey close to Rome, staying an evening or two will can help you respect the quieter facet of the streets and provide you with extra time to expertise the lake and palace. The suites and flats at Atlantis Inn, particularly these with lake views, are a delight. 

Colourful Nemi and it's arched supports, one of Italy's small villages
Vibrant Nemi and its arched helps, certainly one of Italy’s small villages


Why go to? The Roman Ships Museums and the cute small village by a lake ambiance

If you wish to mix a couple of of the villages close to Rome collectively, then Castel Gandolfo, Ariccia, and Nemi are simply blended – particularly if you happen to comply with the beautiful strolling path between the 2 lakes.

Nemi’s setting is an absolute magnificence. Perched above the volcanic-crater lake of the identical title beneath, the pedestrianised compact borgo core is a mixture of vibrant facades, restaurant terraces – attempt the native porchetta (pork) sandwich – and historic buildings. It’s additionally normally a lot much less visited than neighbouring Castel Gandolfo. 

Down by the lake, two of Nemi’s most well-known sights could be discovered. The Temple of Diana, a traditionally important pilgrimage and worshipping web site because the sixth century BC, and the Roman Ship Museum of Nemi.

The Roman ships, as soon as anchored on the lake and utilized in non secular celebrations for Diana, had been practically misplaced endlessly after sinking till they discovered a brand new house within the Museum throughout the Nineteen Thirties. Sadly, a fireplace in 1944 torched each the Museum and the wood vessels, and so they had been lastly misplaced endlessly. Nevertheless, inside you’ll discover shows, recreations, and knowledge on their storied previous. 

Prime tip: Don’t go to on a Monday, you’ll discover all of the museums closed.

How you can get there? Surprisingly, given it’s so near Rome, it’s not so direct to get right here. You’ll have to take two buses and permit a minimum of 90-minutes or hike the path from Castel Gandolfo. By automobile, you possibly can arrive in lower than 40 minutes. 

The place to remain? Nemi’s compact measurement means it may be a day journey from Rome or mixed with a go to to Castel Gandolfo. Nevertheless, as with all the attractive small cities close to Rome, slowing down is the secret, and if you happen to want to spend some nights right here, the rooms at il Lago di Nemi (nearer to the lake than the village) promise a tranquil retreat.

Overlooking Castel San Pietro Romano, a day trip near Rome
Overlooking Castel San Pietro Romano, a day journey close to Rome

Castel San Pietro Romano 

Why go to? Sweeping views throughout the countryside and everlasting metropolis, and a facet journey to the superb Nationwide Archaeological Museum of Palestrina

A literal film star, Castel San Pietro Romano’s cinematic mountaintop place (752 metres) has seen it featured in numerous silver-screen movies and plaques throughout the borgo spotlight scenes and the settings.

Set atop Mount Ginestro, the panoramas throughout Rome and past – an everlasting view over an everlasting metropolis, if you’ll – are equally as movement image worthy. In fact, this place was picked for a defensive cause quite than to be digital camera worthy, however that has positive helped make this spot a preferred day journey close to Rome.

The ‘Akropolis’ – because the outdated central core is understood – is protected by 2500-year-old polygonal partitions, though the a number of medieval towers that when stood listed below are lengthy gone. Fortunately, the partitions of the triangular-shaped storied fort that dominates and defines the village are nonetheless primarily intact, and you may peek contained in the open-air slice of historical past. Named Rocca dei Colonna, it protected this village close to Rome in its influential family-run heyday, fending off any unwelcome assaults from Rome and the Vatican.

The mosaics of Palestrina, a possible day trip near Rome
The mosaics of Palestrina in Castelli Romani, a doable day journey close to Rome

Close by, the Cannuccete Valley supplies some stunning strolling trails, however probably the most spectacular close-by attraction is the Archaeological Museum of Palestrina.

Reached by following the path down the hill, this large palace is a multi-layered and multi-floored museum full of Roman artefacts and treasures. The mosaics steal the present, although, with the huge and detailed Nile Mosaic of Palestrina (a Hellenistic interval flooring piece since restored and displayed on a wall) positive to depart you spellbound.

Prime tip: The €5 to enter Plestrina’s museum is price it alone for the Nile River Mosaic – make sure to go to the highest flooring (it’s a complicated constructing) so that you don’t miss it.

How you can get there? By public transport from Rome, the most effective wager is to take a bus to Palestrina and one other up the hill if you happen to don’t wish to do the steep climb. By practice, you possibly can go to Zagarolo station after which change to a bus. Driving takes an hour, with the quickest public transport journeys a little bit longer.

The place to remain? This village close to Rome is fairly small, so could make for a day journey, though you’ll doubtless wish to additionally spend a couple of hours a minimum of visiting the museum of Palestrina, so contemplate staying a minimum of one evening right here, maybe at B&B I 4 Sentieri which has magnificent views over the borgo.

Roman mosaics in Priverno, a town to visit near Rome
Roman mosaics in Priverno, a city to go to close to Rome

Heading south: Province of Latina – villages close to Rome

The Province of Latina stretches south and in direction of the coast, full of a number of the finest locations to go to close to Rome. Whereas the provincial capital, Latina, is rather more trendy than the medieval Italian villages shut by, there’s loads of good public transport to be discovered, and it received’t take you lengthy to flee to coastal playgrounds and hilltop cities from the capital.

Actually, these borghi may very well be day journeys from Rome, however they may all invite you to decelerate and keep some time, and with loads of museums, scrumptious regional produce, and Roman artefacts to find, you may simply wish to heed their invitation.

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Medieval Sermoneta and the castle, a possible day trip from Rome
Medieval Sermoneta and the fort, a doable day journey from Rome


Why go to? Unimaginable medieval village on a hill full of Caetani family historical past

Of all of the medieval hilltop villages close to Rome, Sermoneta has one thing particular. Overlooking the Mediterranean Sea and oozing historical past from its slim cobbled streets, the short journey time and connecting bus make this top-of-the-line day journeys from Rome. Nevertheless, personally, I feel it’s a magical place to spend an evening or two.

Effectively restored (and in components, reconstructed), Sermoneta’s historical past is intricately linked with the Caetani household, who constructed the magnificent grand palace alongside the defensive partitions.

Strolling round, you’ll really feel such as you’ve stepped into the Center Ages. From the wood beamed Loggia dei Mercanti, an outdated hub of business exercise constructed in 1446, to the frescoed-heavy interiors of the Chiesa di San Giuseppe and Oratorio dei Battenti, each nook appears to have one other treasure to find.

The Museo C’period Una Volta, housing the limitless miniature works of Daniela Caruso, was an astounding discover. With totally animated tiny fashions and scenes of native actions coming to life with the flip of a change, it’s an absolute delight, as was Daniela, who invited me to hitch her household for lunch.

In fact, the fort is the star and dominates this village close to Rome. Constructed by the Caetani (or Gaetani) household, as was a lot of the village, it tells the story of this noble Italian household. Hailing from close by Gaeta, they had been vastly profitable in politics, most recognised with the election of Pope Boniface VIII in 1294.

Prime tip: Go to on the weekends to make sure entry contained in the fort, and e-book your go to to The Backyard of Ninfa prematurely. 

How you can get there? By public transport from Rome, you possibly can take a 30-minute practice to Latina station after which a bus (there could also be a wait, so plan with the schedules) as much as the village. To drive takes a little bit over an hour.

The place to remain? Sermoneta is definitely probably the most stunning small cities in Italy I’ve visited, so I’d counsel soaking all of it in by staying a short while, maybe on the homely and historic B&B Le Principesse.

Fossanova's abbey at sunset, a tiny village near Rome
Fossanova’s abbey at sundown, a tiny village close to Rome

Fossanova (and Priverno)

Why go to? An historic abbey escape coupled with a lived-in medieval city twin

The Abbey of Fossanova is likely one of the smallest villages close to Rome, because the abbey and the borgo are one and the identical. Constructed in 1135 and consecrated in 1208, for a few years, the oldest Cistercian monastery in Italy stayed closed to the world, apart from a guesthouse reserved for pilgrims and people passing by.

Later the partitions fell (figuratively and actually), and now top-of-the-line examples of early Gothic structure within the nation is open to all guests, and maybe you’ll even encounter a cheery monk as you wander round.

The limestone advanced is grand but easy in its decor, with some distinctive little particulars, similar to a crown carved above the rounded window and a powerful mosaic close by the cloisters. 

It’s a tranquil place to remain and relaxation, with a few cafes that are busy by day, as this is likely one of the most historic locations close to Rome to go to by practice, the station a pleasing 25-minute stroll away.

Contained in the outdated guesthouse, archaeological discoveries from the traditional Roman metropolis of Privernum could be witnessed, with the gathering persevering with in Priveno’s metropolis museum, the outdated medieval city close by, which gained its title from the historic settlement.

Grand statues and sculptures, masterfully designed mosaics, and ornate wood ceilings adorned with work enhance Priverno’s museum, and out of doors, on Piazza Giovanni XXIII, there’s an architectural feast. Flanked by the imposing arched portico of the City Corridor, with its arched portico and a grand staircase resulting in the Cathedral, that is the beating coronary heart of the commune, the place folks flock to get pleasure from drinks and native flavours.

Priveno’s menu of treats is scrumptious, with a heavy deal with buffalo produce, similar to mozzarella and meats, multi-award-winning Orsini Olive Oil, and Chiacchietegli di Priverno (violet broccoli from Priverno). By evening, this lived-in small Italian city is much extra energetic than Fossanova, with the slim cobbled streets glowing beneath orange-lamps and the sound of laughter and pleasure ringing via the air from eating places and bars.

Prime tip: Go to each the archaeological museums to study as a lot about Privernum as doable, and attempt to organize an advance go to to the archaeological web site.

How you can get there? By public transport from Rome, you possibly can take a practice to Fossanova-Priverno station after which a fast Cotral (or commune) bus to the village or city. The journey is round 80-minutes by each automobile or public transport.

The place to remain? At first look, Fossanova’s small measurement makes it seem to be a spot for a fleeting go to, nevertheless, that is certainly one of my favorite locations I stayed precisely for that cause – it’s the right place to decelerate and a reasonably good base even if you’re utilizing public transport, because the native bus community connecting to the practice station is respectable. I beloved our cute house in Casette Rosse, with loads of area and a shaded balcony.

Over looking Gaeta and the sea, one of the most beautiful villages near Rome
Overlooking Gaeta and the ocean, probably the most stunning villages close to Rome


Why go to? A magical village by the ocean with seashores, nightlife and loads of structure to get pleasure from

Gaeta was the one borgo I visited in Lazio that sits on the glowing cyan waters of the Mediterranean. Whereas the outdated half is likely one of the most magical villages close to Rome to whereas away some days, the bigger and newer part varieties probably the most charming coastal small cities close to Rome.

Separated from the attractive bay of Serapo Seaside and the bustling thoroughfare of By way of della Indipendenza by Monte Orlando park, the outdated harbour-side a part of Gaeta feels very tucked away.

Excessive above within the wooded land of the mount, unbelievable viewpoints of Gaeta’s fort and borgo could be loved. There’s additionally a powerful sanctuary right here, often known as the cut up mountain, the place a slim staircase descends to a chapel earlier than climbing as much as a novel viewpoint set within the cliff’s crack.

Constructed within the eleventh century in honour of Saint Philip Neri, who lived right here, the Sanctuary of Montagna Spaccata is simply as a lot concerning the spectacular nature as prayer.

Contained in the borgo correct, there’s a fascinating mixture of viewpoints, properties above sheer-rock faces, energetic and stylish bars with a youthful vibe, and lots of spectacular architectural finds.

On the Santuario Della Santissima Annunziata, don’t miss the jaw-dropping Cappella dell Immacolata Concezione behind. This Renaissance Sistine gilded chapel is coated in gold, with spectacular work by masters Scipione Pulzone and Giovanni Filippo Criscuolo. The Church of Saint Francis of Assisi’s tower, with its Islamic particulars, is equally as putting, whereas the Church of Saint Francis towers above, offering maybe the village’s finest viewpoint.

Prime tip: Some museums and church buildings are solely open throughout sure hours and on sure days, so test and plan forward. 

How you can get there? By public transport from Rome, you possibly can take a practice to Formia-Gaeta, after which a fast Cotral bus to the outdated centre. The journey time is round two hours by automobile and public transport.

The place to remain? Do your self a favour and spend a couple of nights right here. It’s an amazing place to sit back on the seaside and go to historic sights, however it additionally has a superb night vitality and stylish bars, particularly on the weekend. I made the error of simply staying one evening after which ended up coming again once more on the finish of the journey. For a beach-view keep, the easy rooms at Hotel Serapo sufficed (the upgrades to sea views had been round €15 once we arrived as we had booked a traditional room), or proper within the Outdated City, we acquired a tremendous discount at B&B La Gaetana, which has a terrace overlooking the tower and sea, by calling on to the proprietor.

Overlooking the Camino Valley, one of the most naturally beautiful places to see near Rome
Overlooking the Camino Valley, probably the most naturally stunning locations to see close to Rome

Additional south: Province of Frosinone – locations close to Rome and Naples

Round midway between Rome and Naples, the Province of Frosinone is probably the most southern a part of Lazio, with the capital metropolis being Frosinone. Maybe probably the most well-known attraction right here is the Abbey of Montecassino, an unlimited advanced atop the hill in Cassino, which, following its destruction in World Battle Two, has subsequently been rebuilt.

I spent most of my time right here across the Valle di Comino, the place some large battles befell, however now it’s a serene setting of olive groves, mountains, and exquisite small villages close to Rome.

This a part of Lazio felt probably the most laid-back and rural, particularly away from the bigger cities. From sipping on scrumptious award-winning Cabernet in small Italian cities to visiting the ‘metropolis of Cicero’ and devouring pasta in countryside agriturismos (rural farm lodging), all of your away-from-Rome dream Italian experiences are awaiting right here.

Arpino's sprawling town is one of the best places to see near Rome
Arpino’s sprawling city is likely one of the finest locations to see close to Rome


Why go to? Historic ruins pre-dating the Romans, loads of tradition to find, and a energetic centre

Arpino has a peculiar type – however in a great way. I’d go so far as saying that the X-design of the settlement, which has been formed over the centuries, makes it probably the most stunning small cities in Italy, particularly when you begin diving into its historical past.

Extra in depth than a lot of the different villages close to Rome, because the historic borgo half is definitely the small, high-above L’Acropoli di Civitavecchia, there’s loads of life and exercise to be discovered within the streets.

From the medieval tower that crowns the Civitavecchia, you’ll get your bearings as Arpino rises up the mountains and spills out earlier than you. You’ll even be trying down on the fortified polygonal partitions and historic cyclopean pointed arch, free from mortar and nonetheless standing after greater than 2500-years. This space had been inhabited because the Volscian days (round 1000 BC), with the native puddingstone quarries a cause many selected to construct and assemble right here.

Following the path to the decrease a part of Arpino, you’ll cross close to the mines earlier than arriving on the well-lived-in and vibrant streets beneath. Right here, partitions are stacked excessive with stonework from completely different intervals – pre-Roman, Roman and mediaeval – typically topped with extra trendy homes above.

These properties have been occupied by lots of Arpino’s most influential residents, from the Roman scholar, thinker and statesman Cicero, to the Pantheon’s architect Marco Agrippa and the painter Giuseppe Cesari. 

Arpino is a cultured spot with a handful of museums and historic websites. In case you search a small city in Italy to remain some time and take in the nice life, you received’t go improper right here. 

Prime tip: Head to the Civitavecchia’s tower earlier than 1 pm so you possibly can climb it for the most effective views.

How you can get there? By public transport from Rome, you possibly can take a practice to Cassino, after which a Cotral bus, the entire journey time must be round three and a half hours. By automobile, it’s a little bit over an hour and a half, the identical distance as from Naples.

The place to remain? Arpino is a superb place to base your self within the south, as there’s lots happening right here. Historic Il Cavalier D’Arpino (it was a wool manufacturing unit) supplies a splendidly grand stick with a pool a brief stroll from the centre. If you wish to discover the valley by public transport, although, you might discover Sora provides you higher connections.

Atina's main church, one of the cutest villages near Rome
Atina’s foremost church, one of many cutest villages close to Rome


Why go to? Scrumptious wines, stunning winery views, and a get-away-from-it-all really feel 

In case you are contemplating locations to go to close to Rome to remain some time and calm down, little Atina will fortunately oblige. There isn’t an excessive amount of to do right here, however the central core of the medieval borgo has a handful of high-quality eating places and even a couple of stylish bars (wonderful Negronis) to get pleasure from, and you may even sleep in a palace.

Sure, Atina is a kind of villages close to Rome you come to get away from all of it, and the elegant views of the cloud-hugged valley at dawn, the place mist rises above award-winning vineyards, remind you each morning you’ve made a good selection.

That’s to not say there isn’t a energetic neighborhood right here, although, and on Monday mornings, you’ll discover the streets overflowing with the market, which expands far past the principle sq., because it has been doing because the Sixteenth century.

There’s additionally an archaeological museum, although a number of the most historic and necessary treasures discovered right here now stay in Rome’s museum. Many of those artefacts got here from Santo Stefano Hill, which rises subsequent to the village, and though you possibly can see the megalithic partitions on a hike there, probably the most spectacular web site is the valley from the Cappella della Madonnella hugging its facet.

After you’ve had your fill of palaces (there are a couple of right here, together with the 14th-century mosaic-displaying city hill), settle into one of many native vineyards to sip on wealthy ruby-red Cabernets. Having achieved DOP standing (Protected Designation of Origin), you possibly can count on high quality wines from these aged vines, and the backdrop provides to the flavour.

Prime tip: Stand up early to hike Santo Stefano Hill at dawn; the low clouds and luxurious views from the chapel are price it. 

How you can get there? By public transport from Rome, you possibly can take a practice to Cassino, after which a Cotral bus, the entire journey time must be simply over three hours. By automobile, it’s a 100-minute drive, across the similar as from Naples.

The place to remain? Whereas Atina may very well be visited in half a day, otherwise you’ll want extra hours if executed as a day journey from Rome, the views of the valley are a serene place to relaxation, and the transformed palace of Palazzo del Senatore has superb views from the breakfast terrace, although I discovered the attic rooms a little bit cramped with the low ceilings and lack of regal options, so for the total palatial expertise, go for the improve.

Colourful corners and flower pots on the streets of San Donato Val di Comino
Vibrant corners and flower pots on the streets of San Donato Val di Comino

San Donato Val di Comino

Why go to? To decelerate amongst the gorgeous setting towards the mountains overlooking the Comino Valley

In case you’re searching for a dreamy picture of these stunning small villages in Italy which merely cry out to be loved, then San Donato Val di Comino is asking your title.

Of all of the villages close to Rome I explored, it was right here I used to be most in a position to dive into Lazio’s trendy regional historical past, the deepest, because of the improbable, trendy, and well-curated museum which lately opened right here.

The Museum of the Twentieth Century and the Shoah focuses on the battles which befell within the forested mountains backing the villages, when 1000s of English troopers hid among the many undergrowth, battling with the approaching German troopers within the valley. Most shifting and hardest to digest are the tales of the Jewish neighborhood that arrived right here, many stripped of their paperwork and hidden in native homes.

As you stroll the tranquil streets and mountain trails these days, it’s laborious to think about such terror and distress on this calm village close to Rome, though monuments and war-location reminders are nonetheless seen.

As soon as a whole fort village surrounded by double fortified partitions, from the very best level, you possibly can get pleasure from an impressive panorama throughout the olive oil groves and valley beneath. Whereas the tower is shorter than it as soon as was, the 14th-century church alongside it (a pleasant neighbour has the important thing) has grown, and the frescoes inside are spectacular.

My favorite factor about San Donato Val di Comino although, was spending time in its ‘front room’ – the principle village sq. the place locals, cats and travellers convene to share tales over espresso, beers and selfmade wine. That is the magic of these slower-paced journeys to small Italian cities, and I used to be desperate to soak in each second of it.

Prime tip: Don’t miss the Museum of the Twentieth Century; it’s a wonderful, trendy, and thought-provoking expertise.

How you can get there? By public transport from Rome, you possibly can take a practice to Cassino, after which a Cotral bus, the entire journey time will probably be between three and 4 hours. By automobile, it takes a little bit beneath two hours to drive, or from Naples, it’s 90-minutes.

The place to remain? San Donato Val di Comino deserves a minimum of an in a single day keep and would make a superb base for exploring the valley. Whereas I didn’t keep right here myself, I did have lunch within the serene setting of Agriturismo La Fattoria, which additionally provides rooms within the transformed farmhouse. 

Exploring Rieti Underground, an ancient town near Rome
Exploring Rieti Underground, an historic city close to Rome

Heading north: Province of Rieti – locations to go to close to Rome

The capital of Rieti Province additionally goes by the identical title, and the valley here’s a verdant retreat ripe with biking, horse using, and mountaineering adventures – plus some water sport choices similar to chicken watching by the lakes and rafting down the rivers. As soon as, the entire valley was submerged till the Romans learnt the way to drain the water, and so they left loads of legacies. Maybe probably the most fascinating for a customer is Rieti Underground, which you’ll be able to go to on a night tour, one of many locations to go to close to Rome that isn’t a borgo. 

In case you don’t have a automobile and wish to discover the province and small Italian cities round, then Rieit is an efficient base. Alternatively, there are many strolling trails to get round, probably the most well-known being the Saint Francis Stroll, a part of the for much longer Via Francigena.

Greccio's main square, fountain and church near Rome
Greccio’s foremost sq., fountain and church close to Rome


Why go to? For the non secular sanctuary and nativity scene connections with Saint Francis

Unsurprisingly, most of the villages close to Rome have non secular connections, however Greccio maybe has the explanation to be proudest. It was right here, practically 800 years in the past, that the first-ever nativity scene was created, shaping Christmas as we all know it as we speak.

The ‘Sacred Valley of Rieti’ was a favorite place of San Francesco (Saint Francis of Assisi), who got here to this tranquil setting for meditation and prayer. Following in his footsteps these days are many pilgrims finishing the Saint Francis Stroll alongside those that merely search out the gorgeous nature with out the non secular connotations.

You’ll discover a cluster of spacious streets contained in the village, all topped with a grand church boasting magnificent panoramas. There’s additionally a strolling path, the Path of the Artists, via the hamlet, linking non secular frescoes and work which adorn folks’s properties collectively. The historic reference to the beginning scene of Jesus can be celebrated, with the Worldwide Nativity Museum displaying hand-crafted scenes from all internationally, which, even if you happen to’re not overly into non secular artwork, could be appreciated for his or her detailed work.

On a hill reverse, casting its eye throughout the borgo, is the Santuario Francescano del Presepe di Greccio. It’s right here that Saint Francis got here to hope, though in his time, it was sleeping beneath rocky caverns and searching for silence, and the grand advanced got here a lot later. Contained in the small chapel, you possibly can see the place he made the unique beginning scene, and a a lot bigger trendy church provides the advanced its splendour from afar.

Prime tip: When strolling the streets of Greccio, try to spot (and peek inside) the workshops of the nativity scene makers

How you can get there? By public transport from Rome, you possibly can both take the Cotral bus to Rieti after which change to the Greccio bus, or a practice to Terni after which a second practice (however observe the practice station isn’t so shut). The quickest journey by public transport is round two and a half hours. By automobile, Greccio is round two hours from Rome.

The place to remain? Greccio is fairly small as a village itself, with most of this village close to Rome’s sights being within the surrounding valley walks and the sanctuary. Clear and reasonably priced rooms – primarily geared toward walkers and pilgims – could be discovered at Oasi Gesù Bambino. As a extra upmarket various, the Abbey lodging prompt for Contigliano (beneath) can be near right here.

The borgo of Contigliano clings to the hill, creating a delightful village near Rome to visit
The borgo of Contigliano clings to the hill, creating a pleasant village close to Rome to go to


Why go to? Quaint, rounded village surrounded by beautiful valley and river countryside 

Contigliano is one other of the villages close to Rome overlooking the Rieti Valley and is definitely mixed along with Greccio. The truth is, most of the pure sights and actions, similar to horse using, and birdwatching on the lakes, fall between the 2 borghi, which means they may very well be mixed into an extended day journey close to Rome, although the beautiful setting may lure you into staying some nights.

Capping a low hill, Contigliano’s medieval streets provide improbable views over the Rieti Plains, the place cannellini beans are grown, and mountaineering and biking trails crisscross the luxurious farmlands. With historical past from the Bronze Age interval, and church buildings dotting the close by panorama from the Center Ages, small Contigliano doesn’t shrink back from sharing its personal slice of historical past.

Within the outdated village core, the streets are a delight to discover – though the compact measurement means it received’t take lengthy. Maybe probably the most spectacular constructing, the Collegiata di san Michele Arcangelo, a baroque-style church with a grand facade, is a testomony to the neighborhood’s spirit, because it was constructed utilizing villagers’ funds quite than cash from the church.

Down within the valley beneath, the lakes of Riserva dei Laghi Lungo e Ripasottile are a serene spot for a stroll and chicken watching, whereas alongside the crystal-clear waters of the Santa Susanna spring in Rivodutri you’ll discover a picnic cease haven.

Prime tip: Guide a packrafting journey with 42 Gradi Nord to expertise the river.

How you can get there? By public transport from Rome, you possibly can both take the Cotral bus to Rieti after which change to the Labro bus, or a practice to Terni after which a second practice, the quickest journey is round two and a half hours. By automobile, Contigliano is about two hours from Rome.

The place to remain? Contigliano and Greccio may very well be mixed right into a day journey from Rome, nevertheless, these small villages in Italy, particularly when coupled with the valley and Rieti itself, make for a calming longer journey. Abbazia di San Pastore supplies lavish and historic rooms in an enormous heritage constructing a brief drive from the village.

Labro seen from afar, one of the most beautiful villages near Rome
Labro, as seen from afar, is likely one of the most stunning villages close to Rome


Why go to? Beautiful setting perched excessive above a lake with cute stone streets

The story of Labro’s return to glory is an fascinating one. After World Battle Two, this medieval hilltop borgo was falling into disrepair. The normal stone homes had been crumbling, residents had been departing for higher futures, and it appeared that Labro’s future was to be like most of the different ghost cities now discovered throughout Italy.

Fortunately, the destiny of this village close to Rome modified because of the proprietor of the borgo’s fort and her architect husband, who set about restoring the entire hamlet to the unique design. With the return of some 400 residents, Labro got here again to life and now, coming into the historic core, you virtually wouldn’t know what might have practically been.

Sadly, the climate wasn’t on my facet after I visited Labro, however that didn’t cease me from being enchanted by this small city in Italy. Umbrella in hand, I wandered the net of light-stone homes, church buildings, watchtowers and chapels, seeing how restoration had introduced new leases of life, similar to church buildings transformed into theatres. Crowning the village is the family-owned Castello Nobili Vitelleschi, which you’ll be able to enter and tour accompanied by the daughter of the present noble proprietor.

From the fort’s turret, fantastic vistas of the verdant-enveloped Lago di Piediluco span earlier than you whereas the historic archives maintain treasures of their very own. Paperwork from way back to 1191 and even signed by the pope type a part of the household’s assortment, with a Seventeenth-century handwritten account of the borgo’s historical past significantly fascinating.

Prime tip: Guide your go to to the Castello Nobili Vitelleschi and make sure to eat (or go to the delicatessen) of Radici Restaurant.

How you can get there? By public transport from Rome, the most effective connection is to take a Cotral bus to Rieti after which change to the Labro bus; the quickest journey is round two and a half hours. By automobile, Labro is a two-hour drive from Rome.

The place to remain? Labro is likely one of the most serene locations to go to close to Rome (if you happen to ask me), so it could even be a beautiful place to remain some time and decelerate – which is useful, as most of the small lodging suppliers right here have minimal stays and renovated Casa Luce is one such place.

The old streets of Viterbo, a town near Rome
The outdated streets of Viterbo, a city close to Rome

Additional north: Province of Viterbo – locations close to Rome and Florence

Probably the most northern province in Lazio, Viterbo, is awash with cute villages that aren’t too removed from Rome, and most of the borghi right here have Erutscean roots. The Etruria people, who predated the Romans, reached the height of their civilisation within the sixth century BC, however their story goes again centuries additional. After the Romans got here, this area was renamed Tuscia, and the countryside and rolling hills definitely give the world a Tuscany-like really feel. 

First, it’s best to discover the medieval core of the provincial capital Viterbo, top-of-the-line locations close to Rome to go to by practice, earlier than venturing to the attractive small cities of Italy within the surrounding space. Viterbo can be a superb base if you happen to don’t have a automobile, with loads of native bus connections. Additionally, contemplate heading to Civita di Bagnoregio, one other breathtaking borgo that, sadly, I didn’t have time to go to on this journey.

Incredible Vitorchiano rises from the rock, a spectacular place to visit near Rome
Unimaginable Vitorchiano rises from the rock, a spectacular place to go to close to Rome


Why go to? Unimaginable volcanic rock-topped villages dotted with historical past and statues

Probably the most stunning small cities in Italy (in accordance with me, a minimum of), Vitorchiano is a panoramic place that merges with the volcanic rock beneath. Sheer buildings climb up the facet adorned with hanging laundry, and the entire thing seems to be like a film set.

Set behind crenellated defensive partitions is the historic borgo a part of Vitorchiano, which has expanded to incorporate a ‘newer’ city. Inside, historic homes relationship again to the medieval interval (and even earlier than) sit on slim alleyways that someway all the time lead you again to the city’s sq. and outdated clock tower.

Outdoors the partitions, there are two locations you shouldn’t miss. First, the Valle delle Sculture, which sits beneath with aged-shaped stones, and second, the Rapa Nui-carved Moai statue, crafted from the native volcanic peperino rock by a household of Easter Islanders. From right here, you’ll additionally get an impressive view of the steep sides of the village.

In case you’re feeling hungry, make sure to order probably the most well-known native dish, Cavatelli Vitorchianesi, a thick spaghetti-like pasta resembling an earthworm and topped with a wealthy tomato sauce. So far as villages close to Rome go, this one is an actual winner!

Prime tip: In case you want to go to the City Corridor museum, come on the weekend.

How you can get there? By public transport from Rome, take a practice to Orte or Viterbo after which a Cotral bus; the journey takes round two hours. By automobile, Vitorchiano is 90-minutes from Rome or two and a half hours from Florence. 

The place to remain? Most of the places to stay in Vitorchiano are personal house leases, that are helpful as right here would make a superb base for a couple of nights exploring the Province of Viterbo. Whereas this can be a improbable day journey close to Rome, it’s a bit additional away, so that you may wish to keep for a couple of nights.

One of the many statues of the Sacro Bosco, a unique place to visit near Rome
One of many many statues of the Sacro Bosco, a novel place to go to close to Rome


Why go to? The close by Etruscan Pyramid and Sacro Bosco’s fascinating statues

The historic a part of Bomarzo is perhaps one of many smallest villages close to Rome, however in its environment, there are some quite distinctive sights to find.

Right here, the Etruscans had a stronghold and, earlier than the Romans, formed the lands. Maybe probably the most obvious discovery regarding this era is the Etruscan Pyramid, which was solely found in 1991. Later, in 2008, Salvatore Fosci, a neighborhood of Bomarzo, set about to clear the weeds and vegetation that had stored this historic web site closed off to guests and began main excursions right here. 

One other intriguing attraction, carved from the native peperino stone however constructed a lot later, is the Park of Monsters, often known as the Sacro Bosco.

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This backyard advanced which was formed by the statues within the Sixteenth century shows the work of sculptor Simone Moschino. Round 40 figures, from the legendary to the obscene, are dotted across the strolling path, every seemingly extra imposing than the final. 

The compact medieval core of Bomarzo sits above the park, and whereas it received’t take lengthy to discover the streets, a visit right here mixed with the close by sights exhibits why small-town Italy shouldn’t be underestimated.  

Prime tip: Attempt to ask the City Corridor workers if they may present you a number of the grand rooms within the constructing, which is the Palazzo Orsini.

How you can get there? By public transport from Rome, take a practice to Orte or Viterbo after which a Cotral bus; the journey can take as little as one hour. By automobile, Bomarzo is 90-minutes from Rome or simply over two hours from Florence. 

The place to remain? If you wish to keep in an excellent peaceable and small city in Italy, then Bomarzo does the trick – though maybe basing your self in Viterbo will make getting round by public transport simpler.

Inside the 'forgotten' bell tower of a village near Rome
Contained in the ‘forgotten’ bell tower of a village close to Rome

Bassano in Teverina

Why go to? Medieval village vibes coupled with an impeccable hidden tower discovery

Even earlier than an enchanting discovery was made, medieval Bassano in Teverina was already certainly one of Italy’s most stunning small cities. The traditional streets, Roman-built laundry fountains, and Twelfth-century church are a delight, however there’s additionally a secret right here that was practically misplaced to time.

Contained in the Sixteenth-century tower, a easy construction that rises dramatically subsequent to the hamlet’s entrance lies a real hidden gem of Italy. The Torre dell’Orologio wasn’t found till 1974, when restore works befell, however boy, it was one large discovery.

Contained in the tower, a superbly preserved bell tower was discovered, which had been hidden in plain sight for hundreds of years, unbeknown to the villagers. This unbelievable and ornate Twelfth-century discover, which might have sat alongside the church, was excavated over the approaching years, and now, you possibly can enter inside and climb to the highest for sweeping panoramas. Nevertheless, the true magic is the unique structure.

Whereas components of this village close to Rome had been destroyed after the struggle when a passing practice filled with explosives detonated within the valley, a lot has been reconstructed, with extra work deliberate to make sure the borgo’s historical past is all introduced again to life. The brand new a part of the city can be vigorous, so you possibly can benefit from the neighborhood right here with out feeling such as you’re in certainly one of Italy’s ghost villages.

Prime tip: Guide your go to to the Torre dell’Orologio prematurely with the city’s InfoPoint, as you’ll have to enter with a information.

How you can get there? By public transport from Rome, take a practice to Orte or Viterbo after which a Cotral bus; the journey can take as little as one hour. By automobile, Bassano in Teverina is 90-minutes from Rome or two and a half hours from Florence. 

The place to remain? When you have a automobile and wish to tour a number of the finest villages in Lazio, then the agricultural retreat of L’Olivo Country Club, peeping up on the village above from the luxurious gardens and pool, is a pleasant place to unwind for some time. I solely had lunch right here, however after having a snoop across the grounds, I wanted we had booked in for a couple of nights.

Trying to discover past the area of Lazio? Think about heading additional north to devour the foodie paradise that’s Emilia Romagna, or diving into a few of Italy’s hidden gems across the nation.

This text was written in collaboration with iambassador for the ‘Viaggio Italiano’ Venture (Italian Nationwide Vacationer Board, Ministry of Tourism & Convention of Areas and Autonomous Provinces) following my very own tour of the area in Autumn 2022.

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