There is enough in Rome to fill every second of every day for months – and once you finish with the restaurants, there are a few good attractions too. But if you have been to Italy before or if you would just like to get a more varied view of Italian life, the Eternal City is also incredibly well-placed for a day or weekend trip. In short, these are a few of your options if you fancy a mini-break from your mini-break.
Only an hour and a half from Rome by bus or train, Viterbo is a great base for exploring the northern hills of Lazio. It’s also a lovely afternoon visit in its own right as a well-preserved medieval village and one-time refuge of successive Popes. A dense warren of winding streets, stone buildings, and thick fortress walls, the town has a great sense of history and self-importance. It’s also home to some lovely natural springs – perfect after a long trek in the hills.
Florence is a city that needs no introduction. I’m sure you know all about Michelangelo’s David and Boticelli’s The Birth of Venus. You’ve probably heard about Bruneschelli’s dome too, how it’s pink tiles crown Florence, offering incredible views of the lovely city and Tuscan hills. And everyone knows about Ponte Vecchio, the bridge lined with old jeweler stores, stacked up like Duplo blocks. What you may not have heard is that Florence is less than two hours from Rome by (very comfortable) train, making it pretty easy day-tripping distance, although it’s undeniably better if you can spare a night, especially if you are traveling with kids. Leaving Rome early in the morning will even get you to Florence in time to take our Best of Florence tour which, in a nutshell, will show you the best of Florence without the queues and stress of trying to fit everything in yourself. City Wonders also offers a day trip version of the Best of Florence with high-speed train journey included; we’ll do all the planning so that you can relax and enjoy a day in the Renaissance City.
If you are going to take it on yourself, have a read through the Top Five Masterpieces of Florence and try to make a plan during your train ride out.
Only a 30-minute train ride from Rome, Ostia Antica is often referred to as “The better Pompeii.” The harbor town of Ostia Antica was founded in the 4th century BC. Considering that, it is incredible how well-preserved the town is today. Visitors can wander around buildings whose purposes need no explanation – apartments, taverns, a bathhouse with intact mosaics on the floor – there is nothing ruined about these ruins. You can make your way out to Ostia by local train, or you can join our Ostia Antica tour from Rome
The Castelli Romani are the Alban hills surrounding Rome that house 13 lovely little towns and a number of vineyards that have been providing Romans with tipple for centuries. The most popular spot in the region is Frascati, world-famous for its wines. Only 20km away from Rome, this gem of a town is incredibly accessible, and within an hour of leaving the city, you can be wandering among the vines, sipping on a cool glass of white and nibbling on olives. What more could you ask for? Check out our Frascati wine tour or the tour of Castel Gandolfo, the Popes Summer residence.
Tivoli is where Emperor Hadrian and the Renaissance Cardinals came to kick back when they needed a break from Rome, and if it was good enough for them, it’s good enough for us. The main attractions in this hilltop town are Hadrian’s Villa and Villa D’Este. The former was Hadrian’s holiday home although to the rest of it it looks a lot more like an entire holiday village. Hadrian designed a lot of the complex himself, mimicking buildings he had seen on his travels. Building work here finished in 134AD. The Villa D’Este is a little more modern; once a convent it was converted into a palace in the 16th century and was a private residence all the way through to the 19th century. It’s the wonderful gardens here with their terraces and fountains that draw the crowds though. Just over an hour by Cotral bus, Tivoli is an easy day trip from Rome, but with so much to explore; you’d want to be an early bird if you want to fit it all into a single day.
Pompeii and Vesuvius
Another town that needs no introduction, Pompeii is on the wish list of most history-conscious visitors to Rome. Who doesn’t want to see those plaster casts? Or marvel at the still-belching volcano that poured fiery hell over the unassuming citizens of Pompeii all those centuries ago? All the way down in Naples, Mt Vesuvius and Pompeii is a challenging day trip if you are visiting independently and beware, strong winds often mean that the volcano’s crater is closed to visitors. Much better, we reckon, to take one of our Pompeii tours which will whisk you away from Rome, lead you to the crater of Mt. Vesuvius and then through the eerie streets of Pompeii. Join our Pompeii day trip from Rome and we’ll even throw in a spot for lunch so that you don’t have to worry about anything!
EUR District of Rome
If you only have a few hours to spare, head out to the EUR district of Rome by metro. The eerily quiet neighborhood was created by Mussolini to stand as a marker to the world of just how wonderful fascism could be. If nothing else, it’s something completely different from the streets of Rome. Come here for a few hours, get away from the ruins, and then go back and see the Eternal city with new eyes.