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Rome tourism - Rome Surroundings

Rome Surroundings

All you need to know about the Eternal City

The thing I love about Rome is that is has so many layers. In it, you can follow anything that interests you: town planning, architecture, churches or culture. It’s a city rich in antiquity and early Christian treasures, and just endlessly fascinating. There’s nowhere else like it. Claire Tomalin


Bolsena lake, the largest volcanic lake in Europe, is placed some 130 km north from Rome and a few kilometres away from Orvieto and Viterbo. Formed from the crater of an extinct volcano, it is the largest lake in Lazio and the fifth largest in Italy. Its drainage basin (270 square km) was formed from a collapse in the terrain generated by the intense eruptive activity of several small openings, two of which have been transformed into two islets known as Martana and Bisentino.
First inhabited during the Iron Age and later founded in Etruscan time under the name of Vesna, the Bolsena area perfectly preserves its historical evidence and its natural beauty spots.
A lakeside road leads from Bolsena to Marta, a medieval village built alongside the homonym river.
Framed by the Volsini mountains at a short distance from the Tyrrhenian coast and at about an hour drive from Fiumicino's airport, the Bolsena Lake remains one of the most beautiful areas in central Italy.
How to reach it:


Some 120 km north of Rome, Cassino is one of the stops not to be missed on the winding itinerary through the Ciociaria. It would take you about an hour and a half drive to reach the Abbey of Montecassino but the view from this mighty peak is truly splendid. The archaeological site of Cassino is worth visiting, too. It offers a magnificent journey back to the history of Roman Lazio.

Monte Cassino Abbey

The Abbey of Montecassino lies above the town of Cassino, some 1,700 feet above the sea level. Founded by San Benedetto in 529 AD, the Abbey has been a place of worship, a refuge for pilgrims and an important holy site, worldwide famous for its libraries and monastic scribes. During the Second World War it became a hotly contested trophy of war: marking the edge of the German defences known as "Gustav-Line", it became a strategically vital ridge. Focal point of four individual battles, among which the famous battle of Montecassino, the Abbey was bombed by Allied forces in 1944 . Today Cassino hosts the largest World War II cemetery in Italy.

Castelli Romani

Lying amongst the Albani and the Tuscolani hills, in the south-east of Rome, the Roman Castles area offers more than 15 villages and towns full of history to visit.
Because of its mild climate, wealthy Romans choose it to build their summer resorts since Imperial times. The best known villages in this area are Castel Gandolfo, which is the summer residence of the pope, and Frascati, famous for its wines.
Not to be missed: Monte Porzio Catone, Montecompatri, Rocca Priora, Colonna, Rocca di Papa, Grottaferrata, Marino, Albano Laziale, Ariccia, Genzano and Nemi.

Just off the Autostrada del Sole, it is a perfect stopping-off place for travellers heading south from Leonardo da Vinci Airport, or for people who want to visit Rome during the day and retreat to a quiet paradise in the afternoon.


Frascati is one of the most famous cities in the Roman Hills area, placed at just 20 minutes drive from Rome, direction south-east. It is known not only for its villas but also for its wine. Indeed, it produces more wine than any other DOC zone in Latium. The Frascati bianco D.O.C., for example, is a dry white wine, produced from a mix of grapes grown in the surrounding countrysides: Malvasia, Trebbiano and Greco.
Along with a good glass of wine, you shouldn't miss the chance to visit the Renaissance Villa Aldobrandi, placed over the beautiful town square.


Leaving Rome and following the road leading to the sea (some 40 km south-east) we arrive in Ostia , the most ancient town of the Tyrrhenian Sea coast.
Located at the mouth of the Tiber, it was probably founded in the 7th Century B.C by Ancus Marcius, one of the seven kings of Rome. Thanks to its position it became the main harbour of ancient Rome and perhaps its first colonia. Throughout the centuries a flourishing trade developed there.
The archaeological excavations undertaken at the beginning of the last century have brought the ancient city back to light: the most ancient archeological remains date back to the 4th Century B.C. while the most ancient buildings currently visible date to the 3rd Century.
Your visit to ancient Ostia should start in Via delle Tombe and Porta Romana and should include the Decumanus Maximus, Neptune Thermal Baths, where marvellous black and white mosaics representing Neptune and the Amphrite can be admired, the Forum Capitolium (temple of Jupiter, Juno and Minerva), the Temple of Rome and the Basilica. Important evidence of architectural techniques of the Middle Republic era are provided by the opus quadratum, the walls of the original Castrum or military camp.
With its mosaic floors, Piazza delle Corporazioni is a very interesting place to visit, too. A wonderful view of the entire area can be enjoyed from the steps of the Theatre, still used to stage shows.

The main attractions of modern Ostia are its clean, blue sea and its long, sandy beaches always crowded of tourists.


Located at some 30 km from Rome (30 minutes drive, direction east) Tivoli is famous for its magnificient villas, which were mainly holiday resorts of Roman kings and emperors.
The most spectacular one is Villa Adriana, the residence of the Emperor Adrian, as the name suggest.
Built in the 2nd century AD, it is an exceptional complex of classical buildings, combining the best elements of the architectural heritage of Egypt, Greece and Rome in the form of an 'ideal city'.
Spread out over the one hundred hectares of parkland, you will admire many groups of buildings such as the reproduction of the Athens Academia and the Egyptian city of Canopus, that Adrian had seen during his travels.

Another Villa of great artistic interest is Villa d'Este, the residence of Cardinal Ippolito d'Este. It is famous for the amazing amount of fountains and waterfalls built using the principle of connecting tubs, vases and grottoes inside the park, which totals 35.000 square meters.

There is plenty to occupy the visitors in Tivoli for a day, even if they miss out one of the two famous villas. Travellers keen to see all the sights of the area should note that the Villa Adriana is actually a bus ride outside town. Some visitors choose to stay in Tivoli, away from the bustle of Rome; if you are keen on visiting the monuments, or planning to travel onwards through Italy this may be an option worth considering.


Less than 100 km from Rome (1 hour drive, direction north) Viterbo is placed in the very hearth of an area called Tuscia, in the north of Lazio. The city is famous for its rich historical background, its architecture, its medieval buildings, its cuisine and its thermal baths, known for their healthy properties.

Ancient capital of the Etruscan Lazio, Viterbo is also known as the City of the Popes : several popes dwelled there during the centuries and very important historical events happened in this city. The so-called Palazzo dei Papi was built between 1255 and 1267. It hosted many Conclaves, among which the one leading to the election of Gregorio X.

Viterbo remained under Papal influence from the 12th century to the end of the 13th century. During those years the city took the modern aspect of a triangle enclosed in turreted walls. Viterbo's Cathedral, built in Romanic style, was probably erected on a pre-existing Roman temple. Also worth visiting the church of Santa Maria Nuova (built in the 11th century) and the Santuario della Madonna della Quercia ( built in the 16th century) .
With its low houses and towers, its narrow streets, its flowering balconies and staircases, the quarter of San Pellegrino is one of the most attractive parts of the town.

Viterbo cuisine, based on genuine and typical ingredients, is very well known and appreciated at home and abroad. Local dishes worth tasting are:

Vine has been grown in the province of Viterbo since the Etruscan times. Despite its quality, most consumers are still unfamiliar with Viterbo wine, still considered a mere vin de table.
From 1996 Viterbo winegrowers became more conscious of their product and obtained the acknoledgemt of Colli Etruschi Viterbesi Doc mark. The best known red wines in the area are the Canaiolo and the Violone while the Greghetto and Procanico are the best known white ones.