5 Best Day Trips from Rome
Just because Rome has enough mesmerizing ruins, enchanting basilicas, and drool-worthy food to keep you busy for a lifetime doesn’t mean you should skip all of the worthwhile destinations surrounding Italy’s capital. Here are five easy Rome day trips for experiencing la dolce vita.
A 45-minute scenic train ride from Rome is all it takes to reach Tivoli, a picturesque fortified commune that might be small in size but packs in loads of alluring highlights. Waterfalls, historical architecture, and high-end restaurants and bars make it particularly suitable for romantic travelers. The area was founded during the reign of Emperor Hadrian, so you won’t want to miss Hadrian’s Villa, the emperor's lavish Roman complex built in 117 that is now an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Villa d’Este is another must-see, a 16th-century villa turned museum that houses an extravagant Italian Renaissance garden with impressive fountains. Too in love to leave? Stay the night at Hotel Torre Sant’Angelo, a renovated castle that seamlessly blends into the region’s lush landscape and rich history.
Florence is a destination in its own right, but if you are short on time, it’s also a quick and easy day trip (just 1.5 hours by train) from Rome. Time your arrival as early as possible so you can hit the Uffizi Gallery when it opens at 8:15 a.m.—your best chance to beat the crowds (the museum receives more than 2 million guests annually) that rush to see its world-renowned collection of sculptures and paintings from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Since a day trip doesn’t warrant nearly enough time to dine at Florence’s many great restaurants, be efficient with a stop at Eataly, a famed food hall that hawks many Florentine specialties and fresh local ingredients. Still hungry? Santarpia fires up some of the most coveted pizzas in town; be sure to reserve your table in advance. Decide that one day is still not enough? Make it an overnight and splurge on a room at Il Salviatino, a restored 15th-century villa perched on a hillside with unbeatable views of the Florentine skyline.
Midway between Rome and Naples, the coastal town of Sperlonga has charisma in spades. Once a hotspot for Italian actors, artists, and writers, the seaside hamlet still retains an air of bohemian romance, right on the Tyrrhenian Sea. If you’re traveling by car, it’s easy to make a pitstop on the way at the Gardens of Ninfa, a meticulously landscaped natural monument built on the ruins of a medieval town and referred to by many as one of the most beautiful gardens in the world. When you arrive in Sperlonga, hit Bazzano Beach for a dose of sand, sun, and sea. Recover at Gli Archi, a gem hidden among Sperlonga’s picturesque alleys that serves fresh seafood and antipasti, before a spa treatment and sundowners at the Virgilio Grand Hotel, which offers sweeping views of the beach.
Known as the Roman Castles, this commune cluster rests at the base of the Alban Hills, 20 miles south of Rome. Here, hillsides are speckled with multi-colored buildings surrounding volcanic lakes, all of which has been a Roman holiday destination since ancient times. Today, that history blends with newer gastronomic delights and renowned wineries. Start your tour at Palazzo Apostolico, a 17th-century palace in the city of Castel Gandolfo that was once the pope’s summer residence but is now is a museum housing troves of Vatican-esque curiosities. After township-hopping, unwind at Merumalia Wine Resort, an organic farm that offers two-hour tours of its vineyards followed up by a wine, olive oil, and cheese-and-salumi tasting.
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Naples and Pompeii
Though Naples feels worlds away from Rome, it’s feasible to do during one ambitious history-meet-modernity day trip. Take the one-and-a-half-hour morning train to Naples, then orient yourself by strolling its colorful streets filled with centuries-old architecture, art, and chatty locals. After dipping into the Duomo di San Gennaro, a cathedral splashed in frescoes, compliment your history lesson with modern art immersion at Naples’ Museo d’Arte Contemporanea (also known as Museo MADRE). The museum opened in 2005 and houses three floors of contemporary exhibits and installations by both Italian and international artists like Anish Kapoor. Of course, no trip to Naples is complete without pizza, and Pizzeria Antonio E Gigi Sorbillo has been making some of the best since 1935. After lunch, hop back on the train for the 45-minute ride to Pompeii, a city preserved in pumice and ash after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D. and one of Italy’s most fascinating ruins.
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