In a beautiful and sprawling city like Rome, it’s not always easy to fit all the breathtaking monuments in the short time that you usually have. What often happens is that for fear of missing something essential, you spend your days speeding around the city from the Coliseum, to the wedding cake, all the way down Via del Corso to the Spanish steps, up into Villa Borghese and out to the Pincio panoramic terrace, and then maybe even across the river to the Vatican city. Just saying it wears me out!
So, sometimes, there you are, having visited all the monuments in Rome and still having a day or two before boarding your flight back home. What better way to detox from the bustling city atmosphere than to take a stroll outside the Roman walls. As a Roman from the suburbs, I suggest the countryside: it’s the perfect place to take a breather from neurotic city drivers, the stress of [never] finding parking, and just from the polluted air in general.
Best Day Trips From Rome (by Train)
About 30-40 km north of the Roman ring road, you will reach the beautiful volcanic lake Bracciano, once known as Lake Sabatino. Its surface of 57,5 km squared makes it the 8th largest lake in the entire Italian peninsula. Lake Bracciano is home to swans, ducks, fresh water fish, and aquatic plants of all sorts. Around this lake are three intimate towns, Anguillara, Trevignano and Bracciano, somewhat similar to each other but each with its own personality. The lake offers a number of activities, which you can enjoy alone or with your vacation companions. Rent a pedalò (paddle boat) from the beaches and pedal your way around (but not too far from) the shores of the lake. You can also go sailing or windsurfing if paddling is not your idea of fun! Alternatively, rent a bicycle and ride the circumference of the lake, or take an excursion into the beautiful surrounding woods.
Get there by train: From Ostiense train station, take the fr3 Roma Ostiense Train to Viterbo or Bracciano. Calls at Anguillara. From Roma Termini train station, take the metro to Piramide and then switch to the fr3 train.
Calcata is a stunning medieval village in the north of Rome. What differentiates Calcata from all the other little towns around it? If you take a wrong turn, you might find yourself precipitating down the side of a mountain. The town sits on the peak of a small mountain and has nothing but the outermost houses as a barrier. In Calcata you will find a number of old traditional restaurants that will offer you the classic delicacies of our country. If you happen in the area around teatime, visit La Sala dei 201 Tè, literally ‘the room with 201 teas’. It offers over 200 teas from all over the world, and top of the class local pastries. The place also offers a gorgeous terrace overlooking the valley.
Get there by train: from Roma Termini, take the metro to Piazzale Flaminio. Outside the square (piazzale Flaminio) there is a separate train station (Ferrovia Roma Nord – North Rome Railway). Take the outward bound train towards Prima Porta – 6 stops to Saxa Rubra. From Saxa Rubra, enter the bus terminal and take the COTRAL Bus to Calcata (usually the direction is Civita Castellana).
South of Rome, in the area of the Castelli Romani, Frascati is one of the most frequented areas for its view of Rome, its delicious porchetta stands and, of course, its history. Frascati is a town with a population of just over 21,000. The town is well known for housing the 12 Ville Tuscolane. These villas were a symbol of Roman aristocracy and were to be used as meeting points and summerhouses by the pontifical court. In the main square in the center of Frascati, you have the stunning Villa Aldobrandini on one side, and on the other, a panoramic terrace overlooking the stretch of countryside between Frascati and the city of Rome.
Get there by train: Trains to Frascati from Roma Termini run approximately every hour. They take 30 minutes and cost about 2 euros. Consult the Trenitalia website for train schedules.
East of the city, a town more ancient than Rome itself lies in the Roman countryside. Two of the most famous sights in Tivoli are Villa d’Este and Villa Adriana. Villa d’Este is characterized not only by the precision with which its walls and ceilings were decorated by a group of Renaissance artists, but by the intricacy of its gardens, with fountains, waterfalls, statues and much more. Villa Adriana was built as a royal residence for Emperor Adriano in the 2nd century. Today, it is classified as a UNESCO world heritage site. When visiting Tivoli, don’t forget to stop by the famous thermal baths.
Get there by train: to get to Tivoli by train, take the Roma Tiburtina – Tivoli train, from Tiburtina train station. Travel time is between 45 minutes and 1 hour 10 minutes.
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