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The Prettiest Towns Near Rome

Diana Skok Corridori

Contributor

No one can deny the grandeur of Rome. And while one could easily spend a lifetime there and still not see all it has to offer from a historical or cultural perspective, there is plenty more to see just outside those 2000-year-old walls. The towns and villages near Rome offer hilltop views, small winding streets, and just as much history as Rome itself. Beyond Rome are countless options for enticing day trips. Here is a collection of some of the best places to visit.

ISOLA DEL LIRI

This unique town an hour and a half from Rome is characterized by a historical center with a natural waterfall in the middle. It got its name, “Island of the Liri” because the Liri River forks into two arms and created a sort of island by encircling the old town. These forks also form two waterfalls, the largest one, Cascate Grade is 27 metres high and flows right in the middle of town with the medieval Boncompagni-Viscogliosi Castle as a backdrop. The Valcatoio waterfall is less impressive because the waters are rerouted and used for an electrical powerplant and also does not have the vertical drop Cascate Grande has. Although not as dramatic, it is still beautiful.

When visiting, make sure to linger until the evening as soft lights illuminate the castle and waterfall creating a particularly romantic and evocative atmosphere. 

ORVIETO

This jewel box of a town is located in the region of Umbria only an hour and a half from Rome. Perched high on a hill, Orvieto has a majestic vibe with the 14th-century Duomo dominating its skyline. Built with an abundance of marble and mosaics not to mention Luca Signorelli’s Last Judgement frescoes, this cathedral is one of the most important examples of Gothic architecture in Italy and represents a harmonious union between the style of the great cathedrals of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.

Make sure to also pay a visit the 16th-century Well of San Patrizio, characterized by its 54 metre depth and cylindrical shape. It is known for its two spiral staircases that overlap each other without ever crossing. This helical system along with the 72 windows of this well create a unique visual effect and is ever-changing depending on the time of day.

If architecture and engineering hold no interest for you, no worries, Orvieto is the perfect town for strolling and shopping with its winding little alleyways full of artisan shops offering wooden crafts, linens, cashmere and ceramics. 

CIVITA DI BAGNOREGIO

Dreamlike Civita di Bagnoregio rising out of the clouds sitting on top of a bluff is less than two hours from Rome and could even be combined with a visit to Orvieto which is right up the road. This magical town can only be reached by a pedestrian bridge that is 300 metres long and through an entranceway that was built by the Etruscans 2,500 years ago.

The real draw to this hamlet is its simplicity and location. It offers complete romance with its small, twisted streets flanked by ivy-covered buildings and balconies dripping with colorful flowers as well as sweeping views of the surrounding valleys and hills of the Lazio region.

It is a fairytale town in a fairytale setting.

ORTE

Another Etruscan town, Orte is perched high up on a tuffaceous rock plateau. This ancient city can be seen off the main highway when driving from Florence to Rome, but the real treasure of this town is actually underground. Subterranean tunnels, wells and cellars some dating back to the Etruscan period can be found here. The network of tunnels is about 1600 metres under the city, although only 400 metres is open to the public. This mysterious and intricate underground is a must-see for history enthusiasts.

BRACCIANO

Rome is crazy and fun, but sometimes it can be a little chaotic, so if you are looking for a soothing escape, head up the road to Bracciano.

Bracciano is one of three medieval villages situated around Lake Bracciano.The town is known for the imposing Orsini-Odescalchi Castle, which is often the location for famous weddings like that of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. But it is the old town that holds the most allure with its tangle of narrow passageways full of churches and ancient buildings. There is also the option for a bird’s-eye view of the volcanic Lake Bracciano by heading to the terrace of the Belvedere della Sentinella.

CASTELLI ROMANI

The Castelli Romani is actually a collection of small wine-producing towns scattered throughout the Alban Hills and is a popular place for Romans to visit during the hot summer months.

Each town has its own personality and charm, but all involve hillside views, picture-perfect walkways, delicious food and wine of course. In fact, the town of Marino has a grape harvest festival every October in which local wine will pour from the city’s main fountain.

Frascati, another wine town, has countless cantine that set out long tables during the summer offering their vintages and small snacks to those who just want to relax and enjoy a Sunday afternoon.

If your interest is more to the religious, you might be interested in visiting Castel Gandolfo, which overlooks Lake Albano and is the traditional summer residence of the Pope.

No matter your interest the Castelli Romani has something for everyone.

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