Lazio Travel Guide
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Lazio is Rome’s region.
But despite being home to Italy’s capital and largest city, Lazio has a reputation for being rather bucolic. Lazio is known for its archaeological sites, medieval villages, tranquil beaches, and mountain towns.
Lazio, called “Latium” in English and Latin, is Italy’s ninth-largest region and is made up of five provinces, including the Metropolitan City of Rome.
Lazio borders six other regions. Tuscany, Umbria, and Le Marche are on Lazio’s northern border. To the east are the regions of Abruzzo and Molise. Campania is the region to Lazio’s south.
Best Tours in Lazio: Rome Day Trips
Most places are easily accessible by train from Rome. But you may instead wish to book one of these private or small group tours:
- Half-Day Tour of Tivoli Garden Villa D’Este & Villa Adriana. Explore these two UNESCO World Heritage sites with an expert guide.
- Pope’s Palace, Castel Gandolfo & Gardens by Train from Rome. See the Pope’s summer palace and gardens.
- Rome: Ostia Antica Private Van Tour with an Archaeologist. A licensed archaeologist guides you through some of the best-preserved ruins.
- Bracciano Castle Tour with Wine Tasting. Explore the Orsini-Odescalchi Castle and Lake Bracciano Lake then visit a winery for a wine tasting.
- Civita di Bagnoregio Tours. Choose from among several tours to this fascinating ghost town north of Rome.
- Bomarzo & Orvieto Day Trip from Rome. This day trip travels to the Park of the Monsters and the Umbrian town of Orvieto with a stop for lunch.
Top Places to Visit in Lazio
Take a day trip from Rome to any of these destinations. For a deeper experience, consider an overnight or weekend visit.
Beaches Near Rome
Rome is about 30 minutes to an hour from many beaches. Learn more about the best beaches near Rome, including Anzio, Sabaudia, San Felice Circeo, Santa Marinella, Sperlonga, and Terracina.
There is also an archipelago south of Rome known as the Pontine Islands. The islands consist of Ponza, the most popular and accessible; car-free Ventotene; and the uninhabited islands of Santo Stefano, Palmarola, and Zannone. Ventotene and Santo Stefano, now part of a wilderness and marine reserve, were prison islands from Roman times through the Fascist period.
Ponza and Ventotene are reachable by ferry from the mainland from both Terracina and Naples. You can also take a ferry to Ponza from San Felice Circeo. Boats to the smaller Pontine Islands are available from Ponza and Ventotene.
Tivoli: Villa d’Este and Hadrian’s Villa
One of the most popular day trips from Rome is to Tivoli, which is home to two UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Hadrian’s Villa (Villa Adriana) is a sprawling complex of ruins built by Roman Emperor Hadrian in the 2nd century.
Villa d’Este is a 16th-century palace estate. Its terraced Renaissance gardens, decorated with more than 100 fountains, is a highlight.
Though it can’t compare in dramatic history and fame to Pompeii, Ostia Antica is a great alternative — and only 30 minutes from Rome.
Ostia Antica was Rome’s ancient seaport and it features a whole campus of ancient Roman ruins, including an amphitheater and mosaic tile floors.
Ostia Antica met its end when its access to the sea silted up and its citizens eventually abandoned it. The result is one of the best-preserved ancient Roman sites anywhere.
The Castelli are a collection of towns in the Alban Hills (Colli Albani) just south of Rome.
The most popular for visitors is Castel Gandolfo, where the Pope has a summer home. You can visit the papal palace and gardens in Castel Gandolfo, eat lunch in town, and stroll around Lake Albano.
Other worthwhile towns in the Castelli Romani are:
- Albano Laziale – Heir to the ancient city of Alba Longa, with extensive pre-Roman ruins
- Ariccia – porchetta (roast pork) and Santa Maria Assunta, built by Bernini
- Frascati – Villa Aldobrandini (+ other villas) and white wine
- Genzano di Roma – Sforza palace and gardens and Infiorata flower festival (June)
- Grottaferrata – 11th-century Exarchic Greek Abbey
- Marino – white wine and grape festival (October)
- Rocca di Papa – the best-preserved medieval village in the Castelli
Since many people commute to Rome from the Castelli Romani, it is easy to get a train there from Rome’s train stations. A direct train to Castel Gandolfo is available from the Vatican Rail station near Saint Peter’s.
Rome’s Lakes and Lake Towns
Some Romans head to the lake (instead of the beach) when they need fresh air and a swim. The most popular lakes near Rome are Lago Bracciano and Lago di Vico.
Rome’s lake towns are also nice to visit in cooler months for Sunday lunch and a stroll. Near Lake Bracciano are the towns of Bracciano, site of the hulking Orsini-Odescalchi Castle; Anguillara; and Trevignano Romano.
Etruscan Lazio: Cerveteri and Tarquinia
The Etruscans were ancient people that lived on the Italian peninsula from the 8th to the 2nd centuries B.C. You can visit their ruins and tombs in a few towns north of Rome.
The Etruscan necropolis sites in Cerveteri and Tarquinia are UNESCO World Heritage sites and are notable for their funerary architecture and richly painted tombs. Museo Nazionale Cerite in Cerveteri preserves fragments that were found at the site. This includes the Euphronios Krater, one of the best and fully intact examples of ancient Greek pottery from when the Etruscans traded with Ancient Greece.
Many cruise ship passengers who stop at the port of Civitavecchia book tours to the nearby Etruscan ruins.
Civita di Bagnoregio
This ghost town/artist’s village sits atop a crumbling mountain. Bagnoregio is so distinctive that it has been nominated for consideration as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The way into Bagnoregio is via a long pedestrian bridge. There are no cars in the village, but there are a few bars and artisan shops to accommodate day-trippers.
Trips to Bagnoregio are often paired with a visit to the Umbrian town of Orvieto. This trip is easiest by car or with a tour.
Bomarzo’s Surreal Gardens
In the woods below the town of Bomarzo is the Parco dei Mostri, the Park of Monsters. This 16th-century garden with bizarre sculptures of monsters and animals is a delightful family outing.
Villa Lante, a beautiful Mannerist garden complex with manicured lawns and hedges, is decorated with fountains and statues, including a central one designed by Giambologna. Located in the town of Bagnaia, Villa Lante is often combined with Bomarzo for a full-day trip. Do one garden in the morning, one in the afternoon.
Where to Stay in Lazio
Belvedere Monte Leano. Near Terracina. Not the easiest to find location. But I had one of the best meals I’ve eaten in Italy in its restaurant.
Colline degli Ulivi B&B. Itri, near Sperlonga. Gorgeous pool and grounds have a belvedere over the surrounding countryside as it dips into the sea.