Plan Your Side Trips from Rome Vacation

Lazio, the region that encompasses Rome, the capital, is often bypassed by foreign visitors. This is a pity, since the area, which stretches from the Apennine mountain range to the Mediterranean coast, holds dozens of fascinating towns and villages, as well as scenic lakes, national parks, and forests. A trip outside of Rome introduces you to a more intimate aspect of Italy, where local customs and feast days are still enthusiastically observed, and local gastronomic specialties take pride of place on restaurant menus.

Despite these small towns' proximity to the capital and the increased commuter traffic congestion of today, they still each manage to preserve their individual character. Ostia Antica, ancient Rome's seaport, is one of the region's top attractions—it rivals Pompeii in the quality of its preservation, and for evocativeness and natural beauty, it easily outshines the Roman Forum. Emperors, cardinals, and popes have long escaped to green and verdant retreats in nearby Tivoli, Viterbo, and the Alban Hills, and their amazing villas, palaces, and gardens add to nature’s allure. So if the screeching traffic and long lines at the Colosseum start to wear on you, do as the Romans do: get out of town. There's plenty to see and do.

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Top Reasons To Go

  1. Ostia Antica Perhaps even more than Pompeii, the excavated port city of ancient Rome conveys a picture of everyday life in the days of the empire.
  2. Tivoli's Villa d'Este Hundreds of fountains cascading and shooting skyward (one even plays music on organ pipes) will delight you at this spectacular garden.
  3. Castelli Romani Be a Roman for a day and enjoy an escape to the ancient hilltop wine towns on the city's doorstep.
  4. Get "Middle-Aged" in Viterbo This town may be modern, but it has a Gothic papal palace, a Romanesque cathedral, and the magical medieval quarter of San Pellegrino.
  5. Gardens bizarre and beautiful The 16th-century proto-Disneyland Parco dei Mostri (Monster Park) is famed for its fantastic sculptures; the Villa Lante, a few miles away, remains the stateliest Renaissance garden of them all.


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