Rome is known as the città eterna (eternal city) and caput mundi (capital of the world) for good reason.
Rome acquired these enviable epithets due to its 2,700-year existence during which the ancient city saw emperors rise and fall, grand temples, roads, and aqueducts constructed, and ultimately, the advent of the Renaissance.
Visiting Rome means walking in the footsteps of emperors, gladiators, philosophers, and artists. With such an impressive history, it’s hardly a surprise to learn that all roads do indeed lead to Rome even today.
But while Rome itself is indeed alluring, its surrounding cities are also impressive in their own right.
From visiting the city of Florence, often attributed as the birthplace of the renaissance, to walking in the cobblestone streets of the ancient doomed city of Pompeii, here are some of the best day trips you can make from Rome.
Rome — Florence
As to be expected from the birthplace of the renaissance, the city of Florence is renowned for its legendary works of art.
Visitors to the Tuscan capital will be able to marvel at the exquisite masterpieces of Michelangelo, Masaccio, Botticelli and Brunelleschi. The celebrated Uffizi gallery is also a must-visit on your Florence excursion.
Today, artists continue to churn out works of art.
If you’re wondering what the city was like in back the 15th century, you can head south and cross the river to reach Oltrarno and stroll between the dusty workshops that have hardly changed since the time of Brunelleschi.
Here, you’ll find craftsmen and artisans pouring their craftsmanship and ingenuity into raw materials and transforming them into objects of high artistic value.
While Florence is indeed some 270 kilometers away, a trip to the birthplace of the renaissance is actually one of the most popular day trips for visitors to Rome.
Getting to Florence
- We do not recommend driving or taking the bus to Florence since it’s a three-hour journey, rather you can take the Le Frecce high-speed train from Roma Termini to Santa Maria Novella. Taking the high-speed train allows you to reach Florence in approximately 90 minutes.
- Tickets for the high-speed train start from 9.90 euros (S$14.44).
Rome — Orvieto — Assisi
If you start your Rome day trip early in the morning, you can visit not one but two charming Italian towns in one go; Orvieto and Assisi. The Rome to Orvieto and Assisi route is actually quite a popular trip for domestic and international travellers alike.
Perhaps one of the most beautiful Italian towns, the hilltop town of Orvieto lulls visitors by way of its breathtaking vistas and its remarkable Duomo (cathedral).
The Duomo di Orvieto is a 12th-century structure defined by its Gothic allure accentuated by colorful frescoes, sparkling mosaics, bas-reliefs and delicately carved floral garlands. It is often said that the Orvieto Cathedral served as a major influence for Michelangelo’s Sistine chapel.
Apart from the cathedral, Orvieto has a network of underground tunnels carved some 3,000 years ago. These tunnels were commissioned by the city’s nobilities and aristocrats as a means of protection from the Romans and barbarians at the time.
This complex network of tunnels features a slew of grand chambers, cisterns and quarries which you can visit today.
Getting to Orvieto
- A train journey from Roma Termini typically takes around 75 minutes to reach Orvieto. The train ride is regarded by many as a pleasant one due to the beautiful scenery along the way. Train tickets cost an average of 8 euros.
- If you prefer to drive to Orvieto, you can do so by heading north on the E35 until you come across road signs to Orvieto. The journey takes about an hour or so to complete.
The charming medieval town of Assisi is renowned as the resting place of St. Francis, Italy’s patron saint, who renounced all his worldly riches and devoted himself to the service of the poor.
Needless to say, Assisi’s biggest attraction is undoubtedly the Basilica of Assisi; a beautiful structure that regularly attracts pilgrims looking to pay their respect to St. Francis.
With its double entrance, the Lower Basilica has a sober facade, adorned with a rose window and a mosaic. In the Upper Church, you will be dazzled by the 28 frescoes retracing the life of Saint Francis along with other wonderful frescoes courtesy of Cimabue and Torriti.
Other attractions include the Eremo delle Carceri, a hermitage complex located 791 meters above sea level in Monte Subasio, and the Rocca Maggiore, a medieval castle constructed on top of the city’s hill in 1174.
Getting to Assisi
- You can reach Assisi from Orvieto by car or bus. The journey will take approximately 90 minutes.
- Orvieto to Assisi train lines are available. The train ride takes about three hours and tickets start from EUR 11.
Rome — Naples — Pompeii — Amalfi Coast
Head southeast from Rome to reach Naples, from where you can continue your day trip to Pompeii. This day trip route is among the most popular routes by visitors as evidenced by the numerous tour packages being offered.
Breathe in the Mediterranean in Naples; a city where you’re more likely than not to encounter old sailors telling you their adventures of days past as you immerse in its Greek, Roman, and Spanish heritage.
While some of its aged buildings are indeed in a lamentable state riddled by graffitis and whatnot, some would argue that it’s part of the city’s charm. Unesco, at least, seems to think so.
Naples is also renowned for its museums, castles, and the grand cathedral, where the people regularly honour Saint Januarius, their patron saint, every September.
Getting to Naples
- While it is possible to drive or take the bus to Naples, we again recommend going to Naples from Rome via the high-speed train. It’s simply the easiest and quickest method.
- The train ride lasts for just over an hour with the tickets costing 60 euros.
The ruins of ancient Pompeii remain one of the most intriguing archaeological sites in the world. While its inhabitants unfortunately perished due to devastating earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, the city itself by some miracle was able to survive.
You’ll be greeted by 2,000-year-old houses, temples, amphitheaters, and even the Lupanar; granting you glimpses of how the ancient Pompeians lived their lives under the shadow of the mighty Vesuvius.
Getting to Pompeii
- Getting to Pompeii from Rome requires you to first get to Naples by train. Once you’ve reached Naples, you can make your way to Pompeii from Naples Centrale Station by taking the Circumvesuviana train to Pompeii Scavi Station. The train ride takes 30 minutes.
Note that visiting Amalfi Coast on the same day as Naples and Pompeii may not be practical as it will extend the length of your day trip. If you’ve time to spare, however, Amalfi Coast should definitely be next on your itinerary.
The Amalfi Coast is rightly hailed as the Jewel of South Italy, as it boasts one of the most beautiful coasts in Italy, Europe, and even the world.
Steep mountains descend towards the Tyrrhenian Sea where picturesque towns are perched not unlike the eagle’s nests between the sea and the sky. It’s of little wonder that celebrities, artists, and even dignitaries have openly proclaimed their love for the stunning coastline.
The towns and villages in the vicinity of the Amalfi coast also have a lot to offer. You will admire their cathedrals, their lively squares, and naturally, the ever-friendly locals.
If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you can choose to traverse a well-known and surprisingly serene hiking route punctuated by crumbling paper mills and a fantastic waterfall.
Getting to Amalfi Coast
- you can opt to drive or take a taxi to Amalfi Coast from Pompeii on a 46-minute drive. A taxi ride will cost around 39 euros.
- you can also take the bus for EUR 10. A typical bus ride takes about 2 hours and 46 minutes.
Rome — Tivoli — Castelli Romani
A day trip to Tivoli and Castelli Romani provides a good contrast with the hustle and bustle of Rome. In lieu of museums and an urban setting, the countrysides of Umbria have served as a retreat for the people of Rome since ancient times.
Here’s why you should definitely pay Tivoli a visit; Hadrian’s Villa and Villa d’Este.
Nestled on the foothills of central Tivoli, lies Villa d’Este; a steeply terraced villa with exquisite fountains and elegant avenues lined with trees and caves.
The villa is the epitome of a masterfully executed renaissance garden and had served as a luxurious retreat nearing the end of the 16th century. The Villa d’Este is definitely worth a visit.
Hadrian’s Villa, on the other hand, signifies the wealth and opulence of ancient Rome. Located some five kilometers from Tivoli, the villa is in fact a complex of 30 ancient Roman structures including amphitheaters, temples, and so on.
Do not miss the Pecile surrounding the basin which is a replica of a portico seen in Athens. Next, the Canopo, a narrow basin 120 meters long framed by statues, reproduces a sanctuary in the Egyptian city of Canopus. Finally, the Serapaeum, a semicircular Greco-Egyptian temple used by Hadrian to host banquets in the summer.
Getting to Tivoli
- Train lines are available from Rome to Tivoli and are quite inexpensive. A one-way ticket costs about 3 euros and the journey will only take you 30 minutes to complete.
- You can also opt to drive to Tivoli by renting a car. This will enable you to visit both villas with ease as it eliminates the need to take public transport in Tivoli.
- Going by car is also the only option available should you wish to continue your journey to Castelli Romani.
Those who are unfamiliar with the area may mistakenly assume that the Castelli Romani refers to a single town or municipality.
In truth, Castelli Romani actually refers to 16 picturesque hilltop towns and villages in the Alban Hills area. Castelli Romani is a mere one hour drive away from Tivoli.
While all 16 towns are indeed breathtaking, people mostly visit the charming hilltop town of Castel Gandolfo overlooking the Lago di Albano. This medieval town is where visitors can find the Palazzo Pontificio, a 17th-century summer residence of the pope, which now serves as a museum.
Other noteworthy medieval towns include Frascati, a town famous for its exquisite summer villas and its production of white wine.
Commissioned by noble Roman families, these villas commonly feature extensive gardens and spectacular fountains like those found in French castles. Inside the villas are exquisite works of art, paintings and sculptures of great artistic value.
Getting to Castelli Romani
- Castelli Romani lies some 27 kilometres south of Tivoli. You can get to Castelli Romani by car in about an hour or so.
This article was first published in Wego.