Imagine you can spend a long vacation in Rome and then have a few days available to get away from the Eternal City and visit some fascinating places around it. Alternatively, simulate that you’ve already been to Rome and know every hidden corner of it (an absolutely impossible feat…) and then want to extend your knowledge outside of it, to discover wonderful and mysterious destinations.
The Rome Guides Cultural Association, which organizes Guided Tours in Rome and throughout the Lazio Region, will explain how to spend your days outside the chaos of the Italian Capital, if you are looking for an unforgettable trip during your holidays. Rome is indeed quite extraordinary, but a little break in the nature can be the perfect opportunity to discover other enchanting places, to give yourself a few hours of leisure, quiet and relaxation.
In this list of the top 5 gems, Rome Guides has chosen to include the most beautiful medieval village, the most charming palace, the most fascinating religious monastery, the most spectacular natural park and finally the best “artistic curiosity” you can find around Rome.
TOP VILLAGE – CIVITA DI BAGNOREGIO
Civita di Bagnoregio is a perfect destination for a romantic weekend near Rome, to discover a corner of Italy envied by the whole world. Civita di Bagnoregio is also known as “the dying city”, due to the gradual erosion of the clay soil that threatens its survival. The village of Etruscan origin is ideally embraced by Lake Bolsena to the west, Lake Bracciano to the south and Lake Trasimeno to the north: it is a medieval village of unspoiled beauty, which has only a handful of inhabitants (no more than twenty) in addition to a lovely colony of cats. The view of the village from the panoramic viewpoint will take your breath away, as well as the walk of about two hundred meters on the scenographic bridge that leads to the entrance door.
TOP PALACE – FARNESE PALACE IN CAPRAROLA
The Farnese Palace in Caprarola is a treasure of the late Renaissance that will keep you busy all day long, because of the many frescoed rooms and the magnificent gardens in which to stroll. Built around the middle of the 16th Century, the Farnese Palace has a pentagonal structure, with the elegant rooms overlooking the beautiful gardens, well isolated from the rest of the village.
Visiting the Farnese Palace, you will have the opportunity to climb the monumental Royal Staircase, a spiral staircase designed by the architect Vignola and entirely frescoed by Antonio Tempesta: after visiting the magnificent frescoed rooms, you will conclude the visit inside the majestic World Map Hall, and then cross the threshold of the beautiful Gardens, including geometric compositions, water games, mazes and fountains.
TOP MONASTERY – ST. BENEDICT IN SUBIACO
Perched on Mount Taleo, the Monastery of the Sacro Speco of Subiaco looks out into the void.
The Monastery of St. Benedict, defined by Pope Pius II as a “swallow’s nest“, represents, together with the nearby Monastery of St. Scholastica, one of the most important religious sites around Rome, being linked to the figure of the Saint who founded the Benedictine Order. It is in this place, nestled in the Regional Park of the Simbruini Mountains, that St. Benedict lived his days as a hermit, developing the idea of a religious community gathered around the rule “Ora et Labora” (“Pray and Work”).
The monastery, consisting of a lower and an upper level, is entirely frescoed and provides an aura of deep spirituality, coupled with the beauty of the view overhanging the valley.
TOP NATURE – THE GARDENS OF NINFA
If you love nature and want to visit gardens and natural parks not too far from Rome, the Gardens of Ninfa could be the perfect place. Defined by many experts as the most beautiful garden in the world, this English garden takes its name from the Nymphs Naiads, to whom is dedicated a small ancient temple still present on the site, and develops on the ancient medieval city of Ninfa.
You will have the opportunity to walk through eight hectares of green and admire over 1300 different species of plants from all over the world, from Japanese maples to magnolias, from irises to many species of rare roses, as well as exotic and tropical plants. There are also streams, ponds and the Ninfa river that flows through the moss-covered ruins of the lost city.
TOP CURIOSITY – THE PARK OF THE MONSTERS IN BOMARZO
PirroLigorio, the same architect who designed the famous Villa d’Este in Tivoli, also designed this eccentric and dreamlike park near the town of Bomarzo. The project was commissioned in the 16th Century by Pier Francesco Orsini in honor of his dead wife Giulia Farnese.
PirroLigorio built the beautiful leaning house and the funeral mausoleum of Giulia, while all the other sculptures in the park were carved directly into the huge blocks of peperino rock that are found in the valley. From the sculpted boulders come to life gigantic animals, Homeric heroes, sensual sirens, or Roman gods, in a perfect mix of mythology and fantasy that will be able to seduce adults and children.