Are you traveling to Rome anytime soon? Do you want to see some fascinating sites, full of ancient history, but far from the tourist crowds? Guess what? Rome is full of amazing places that the tour buses don’t go to. Places you can wander around at leisure, experience ancient Rome without the crowds, and that are right in the heart of the city. Today I want to introduce you to one of these treasures.

Why You Need To Visit The Baths Of Diocletian In Rome

Personally, I find Diocletian fascinating.

Just between you and me I knew exactly nothing about him until I started googling his namesake public baths and pool. Partway down my never ending list of things to do in Rome was an entry for Diocletian’s Baths and I had decided to read up on Diocletian and then visit them on the next trip to the Eternal City.

It seems as though every emperor I research has something quirky or interesting going on…

About Diocletian

Anyway, old Diocletian was a Dalmatian military guy who rose to power towards the end of the Crisis of the Third Century. Said crisis was caused by invasions, civil war, economic depression and the plague. The reign of Diocletian stabilized the empire and ended the crisis.

Diocletian was emperor of Rome from 284 - 305 A.D. Although he never set foot in Rome, his co-emperor Maximian dedicated the massive Baths of Diocletian to him. These were the biggest public baths and pools in the Roman Empire

Diocletian, Emperor of Rome

Diocletian became Emperor in 284. He understood that the empire had become too huge and too far reaching to be successfully governed by just one person, so in 286 he made Maximian his co-emperor. He ran the Eastern Empire himself and had Max take care of the west. It is thought that Diocletian never set foot in Rome.

The empire had had a revolving door of emperors, some only lasting weeks or months, others just a few years. In order to ensure smooth succession for themselves and for future emperors, they created a system whereby two competent, experienced administrators would be in place as “junior emperors”, learning how to run the empire so that when the time came the transition would be seamless. (Greed and power hunger meant this would be short lived, even though it was a brilliant idea)

He reformed and restructured the government, essentially keeping it intact for the next 150 years. It had been on the verge of collapse during his youth. Diocletian was an important emperor.

A Life With Vegetables

All went well until 305 when in poor health Diocletian decided to become the first emperor to abdicate. He moved back to the Dalmatian Coast and retired to a palace in a Croatian town now known as Split, living out the rest of his life growing vegetables. Years after his abdication when his system of co-emperors and junior emperors collapsed and the empire returned to chaos, Rome asked him to come back, be emperor again and fix everything, but he was happy with his tomatoes and cabbages (or whatever vegetables he was growing) and chose to stay in Croatia.

RELATED POST: 10 THINGS YOU ABSOLUTELY MUST DO IN ROME

The Baths

Emperors left their mark on the empire by building structures designed to last the test of time. The third century was to a degree a building wasteland, so it was time for something huge to be built.

Maximian was co-emperor of Rome. Diocletian ruled the Eastern empire and Maximian ruled the western empire. Maximian commissioned the Baths of Diocletian, named for an emperor who never set foot in Rome

Maximian, co-emperor of Rome

And so the Baths of Diocletian, the largest of all the imperial baths in the Roman world, was commissioned. They were actually commissioned by co-emperor Maximian in 298 and completed in 306, by which time neither were still emperor. Maximian named them the Baths of Diocletian. Diocletian himself never saw them, as he didn’t go to Rome.

The Baths of Diocletian are not just huge, they are gargantuan. They take up 130,000 meters (or 32 acres) between the Viminal and Quirinal Hills. They were designed to be public baths/pools for the people living in the Viminal, Quirinal and Esquiline quarters of the city.

Supposedly large enough to accommodate 3000 people at any time, the complex was made up of a cool water pool (frigidarium), and medium temperature pool (tepidarium) and a hot pool (caldarium) as well as a 4000 square meter outdoor pool. There was an open air gym (palaestra) on either side of the pools, as well as libraries and beautiful walkways.

Today the ruins of the baths are still enormous. As you walk through the ruins the size and scope of the project is quite overwhelming. You can almost hear the patter of Roman sandals ambling through the common areas nearly 2 millennia ago. How incredible it must have been for the people of Rome to stroll these giant walkways on their way to the pools, how sensational the beauty must have been!

For two centuries water was supplied to the pools via the Aqua Marcia aqueduct, until the siege of Rome in 537 when Ostrogothic king Vitiges had the water supply cut off.

If the shell of the building and the pools were all there was to see I would recommend you add this stop to your Rome itinerary, but there is more.

RELATED POST: PIAZZA NAVONA – 14 FACTS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT ROME’S LOVELIEST PIAZZA

The Statues

Statue at the Baths of Diocletian in Rome. Statues here date from the 1st century B.C. to the 4th century A.D.

Throughout the complex, everywhere you turn there are statues.

Statue at the Baths of Diocletian in Rome. Statues here date from the 1st century B.C. to the 4th century A.D.

Spectacular, awe inspiring statues of Gods and Kings, beasts and beauties. Statues and artifacts that will take your breath away.

Statue of a water nymph from a 2nd century fountain. Found at the Baths of Diocletian in Rome

Water nymph from a fountain, dating back to the 2nd century

Sometimes I think they just dig up so many treasures in Rome that there is no place to put them. The Baths of Diocletian are as good a place as any to line up endless treasures from antiquity!

Walking through the cloisters looking at them all lined up throughout the inner courtyard was just incredible.

Cloisters at the Baths of Diocletian in Rome

Statues line the cloisters of this inner courtyard at the Baths of Diocletian

Some date back to the 1st century B.C. Plenty are dated to the 1st century A.D.

Bust of Nero from the 1st century A.D, at the Baths of Diocletian in Rome

From Nero’s head to a bust of beautiful Antonia Minor, mother of Emperor Claudius, dated to around 18 A.D, that stands taller than me.

Bust of Antonia Minor, mother of Emperor Claudius, dated to 18 A.D. This statue is at the Baths of Diocletian in Rome

Statue of Antonia Minor, mother of Emperor Claudius, 18 A.D.

Sarcophagi from 160 A.D, water nymphs from 2nd century fountains – there is just so much here to look at!

the details on this 4th century sarcophagus are amazing. 1700 years later the eyes and noses and facial expressions are all still there. You can see it at the Baths of Diocletian in Rome

I actually spent a small amount of time exploring the pools and an enormous amount of time walking around and around all the areas with statues.

Statue at the Baths of Diocletian in Rome. Statues here date from the 1st century B.C. to the 4th century A.D.

And here is what is even more fascinating: once again I had the whole place almost entirely to myself.

Statues lining the cloisters at the Baths of Diocletian in Rome

My first trip to the Baths of Diocletian was in June of 2018. That day Rome was packed to bursting point and stifling hot. I had initially been going to tackle some items on my list that were close to the Colosseum but the crush of tourist humans in the area forced me to head back out of there as fast as I could.

On the map Diocletian’s Baths didn’t look far so I decided to walk, which wasn’t an entirely brilliant idea on a day so hot and humid. A taxi would have only cost a few euros and buses run right up to the Piazza della Repubblica which abuts parts of the walls.

The entry is beautiful, with trees and a huge fountain, a lovely place to escape the heat, or if not visiting during the middle of summer just a lovely place to sit and enjoy the scenery.

The cost of entry was around 10 euros and was worth every penny. There were other people visiting that afternoon – I wasn’t the only one, but I might as well have been. Everywhere I walked I had a clear, uninterrupted view. I could look at the statues from every angle, I could see it all unimpeded.

Inner courtyard at the Baths of Diocletian in Rome

Statues line the walls under these cloistered porticos. It was a busy day in Rome, but there was no one here

I think my favorite part was walking round and round the cloistered internal courtyard, cool and shaded from the heat of the day. A few artists were scattered around sketching, but when I look at all the photos and videos I took, I can’t even see them.

This, to me, is part of the incredible magic of Rome. There is so much to see and do, most of which is far from the tourist crush.

RELATED POST: 10 FABULOUS DAY TRIPS FROM ROME BY TRAIN

What else is there?

Diocletian was said to be the most ardent persecutor of Christians. He killed more of them than any other emperor. I have read that the Baths of Diocletian were built by 10,000 Christians. Whether that number is true or not, suffice to say it was a rough time to be a Christian.

This wasn’t based on theology so much as it was based on continuity, obedience and legitimacy. Emperors presented themselves as semi-divine, almost Gods. The concept of aligning yourself with the “one true God” was a direct challenge to that legitimacy. The current system had worked so well and Romans had successfully worshipped their Gods for 1000 years. Why change?

In the end the Christians got the last laugh. Pope Pius IV commissioned Michelangelo to build a church on the site to commemorate the Christians who died building the baths. Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri was built using the frigidarium and tepidarium structures, and a small cloister was built using part of the natation (outdoor pool). St Mary of the Angels and Martyrs is a must see while in the area.

A second church is also there, San Bernardo alle Terme (St Bernard of the Baths). This one was built in 1598 and is quite remarkable in its own right. Similar to the shape of the Pantheon this church is cylindrical, has a dome and an oculus. There are statues of 8 saints in wall niches, by Camillo Mariani dating to around 1600.

You could spend a fabulous afternoon exploring the Baths and the 2 churches. As with so much of Rome you are away from the crowds while still in the heart of the city.

 

How to get there:

Take a bus from any direction to the Piazza della Repubblica.

From the Colosseum/Forum area it is an easy walk up the Via Nazionale.

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Glam Italia! How To Travel Italy (Secrets to glamorous travel on a not so glamorous budget) Learn how to plan the trip of a lifetime, get the best deals, and learn tips and tricks from a travel pro!

 

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Bonus Content

Do you get overwhelmed trying to figure out where to go on your trip to Italy (or anywhere else!), how long to stay in each place, which things to plan on seeing and doing and which things to skip?

I have a PDF that I send to my Glam Italia Tour travelers to help narrow down what we will do on their tour. I talk about it in my book and now I am making it available to you too! If you would like a printable PDF you can get it here: Send me the PDF!


 

Civita di Bagnoregio is Italy’s most spectacular hilltop town, and most people have never heard of it! Known as the Dying City, Civita is slowly eroding and falling down the mountain from the high peak it teeters on top of. It is like an island in the sky. You need to know about Civita and add it to your Italian itinerary. Read on to find out why

From the beginning of the bridge an imagination as active as mine could look out and pretend it was the Great Wall of China. But it wasn’t. I was in Italy, the sun was searing hot on my back, and I was about to cross the chasm that would take me to The Dying City.

Civita di Bagnoregio is Italy’s most spectacular hilltop town, and most people have never heard of it! Known as the Dying City, Civita is slowly eroding and falling down the mountain from the high peak it teeters on top of. It is like an island in the sky. You need to know about Civita and add it to your Italian itinerary. Read on to find out why

For years my friend Silvana had been telling me I should visit this fantastic little town, suspended in the sky. She told me there were less than 100 locals still living there and that American tourists and wealthy Italians had been buying up the (very old) houses as vacation homes.

Finally I was here.

Civita di Bagnoregio is one of the most sensational hilltop towns in all of Italy.

There is a free PDF at the end of this post – make sure you read to the end!

Why You Should Visit Civita di Bagnoregio

One of those fantastic little Italian towns that you wouldn’t necessarily just stumble upon by accident, Civita is a little bit off the beaten path, midway between Orvieto in Umbria and Viterbo in Lazio. I finally made it there a few years back when I was staying near Viterbo and we were able to make a little detour on our way to Orvieto for the day.

Civita di Bagnoregio is Italy’s most spectacular hilltop town, and most people have never heard of it! Known as the Dying City, Civita is slowly eroding and falling down the mountain from the high peak it teeters on top of. It is like an island in the sky. You need to know about Civita and add it to your Italian itinerary. Read on to find out why

The little town of Civita sits atop a hill made of volcanic tuff, high, high above a huge canyon, overlooking the Tiber River valley. (I had to google volcanic tuff – it is stone made from volcanic ash during an eruption. In Civita’s case it is friable tuff, which is prone to breaking apart under stress)

The stretch of land that once connected Civita to nearby Bagnoregio has eroded away and now the only way to access the little town is via a footbridge. No cars or trucks can go over, the only motorized vehicles are mopeds and the occasional motorbike.

The Dying City

In Italy Civita de Bagnoregio is known as La Citta Che Muore, or the dying city. Over the centuries (or maybe millennia?) the city has been eroding and literally falling away.

Civita di Bagnoregio is Italy’s most spectacular hilltop town, and most people have never heard of it! Known as the Dying City, Civita is slowly eroding and falling down the mountain from the high peak it teeters on top of. It is like an island in the sky. You need to know about Civita and add it to your Italian itinerary. Read on to find out why

Turning a corner we stumbled across a Renaissance palazzo, repleat with a big wooden door, shuttered windows and ivy growing over the façade. Turns out a façade is all it was – the rest of the home had fallen down the eroding hillside decades earlier.

Civita di Bagnoregio is Italy’s most spectacular hilltop town, and most people have never heard of it! Known as the Dying City, Civita is slowly eroding and falling down the mountain from the high peak it teeters on top of. It is like an island in the sky. You need to know about Civita and add it to your Italian itinerary. Read on to find out why

As we wandered we found other shells of homes that had fallen victim to erosion.

Civita di Bagnoregio is Italy’s most spectacular hilltop town, and most people have never heard of it! Known as the Dying City, Civita is slowly eroding and falling down the mountain from the high peak it teeters on top of. It is like an island in the sky. You need to know about Civita and add it to your Italian itinerary. Read on to find out why

Over the past few generations the young folk moved out to more modern towns that offered an opportunity to work, and the old folk started dying off, hence the double entendre of the dying city.

RELATED POST: HOW TO USE THE TRAINS IN ITALY

A Little History

As with approximately everywhere in Italy, Civita has a fascinating history.

The Etruscans built the huge stone passageway that leads into town when they founded Civita more than 2500 years ago. (This entire area is full of Etruscan tombs and archeological treasures.) In the 12th century the passageway was decorated with the Romanesque arch that you now walk through as you leave the modern world and enter a village that hasn’t changed much since the Middle Ages.

Saint Bonaventure was born here in 1221 and died under mysterious circumstances in 1274. I couldn’t find anything particularly fascinating about him, but when you first arrive in Civita you see an empty space where his childhood home fell down the hill centuries ago.

Civita di Bagnoregio is Italy’s most spectacular hilltop town, and most people have never heard of it! Known as the Dying City, Civita is slowly eroding and falling down the mountain from the high peak it teeters on top of. It is like an island in the sky. You need to know about Civita and add it to your Italian itinerary. Read on to find out why

By the 16th century Civita had begun its decline as life began moving to nearby Bagnoregio. At the end of the 17th century a massive earthquake sped up the town’s race with erosion, forcing the municipal government and the bishop to also move to Bagnoregio.

Civita di Bagnoregio is Italy’s most spectacular hilltop town, and most people have never heard of it! Known as the Dying City, Civita is slowly eroding and falling down the mountain from the high peak it teeters on top of. It is like an island in the sky. You need to know about Civita and add it to your Italian itinerary. Read on to find out why

In the 19th century erosion reached the layer of clay below the volcanic tuff, fast tracking the speed at which the town was falling down the hill. In 2004 there was talk of strengthening the town by reinforcing the plateau with steel rods. I don’t know how far that has come along, but in 2006 Civita made its way onto the World Monuments Fund 100 Most Endangered List.

RELATED POST: 10 BEST DAY TRIPS FROM ROME BY TRAIN

Civita Today

There are now only 5 year round residents in Civita, a number that swells to around 100 over the summer.

Civita di Bagnoregio

Wandering past vacation homes in Civita

Locals cross the bridge by day to run the eateries and artisanal shops that keep this island in the sky running.

Civita di Bagnoregio is Italy’s most spectacular hilltop town, and most people have never heard of it! Known as the Dying City, Civita is slowly eroding and falling down the mountain from the high peak it teeters on top of. It is like an island in the sky. You need to know about Civita and add it to your Italian itinerary. Read on to find out why

Don’t expect to find tourist shops or signs leading you to museums or notable sites – although Civita di Bagnoregio does get tourists coming to explore its cobblestoned streets it can in no way be described as a tourist town. Which in my opinion is even more reason to love it!

Civita di Bagnoregio is Italy’s most spectacular hilltop town, and most people have never heard of it! Known as the Dying City, Civita is slowly eroding and falling down the mountain from the high peak it teeters on top of. It is like an island in the sky. You need to know about Civita and add it to your Italian itinerary. Read on to find out why

We stopped at a restaurant for some local bruschetta (definitely recommended!) and the owner explained the history of the giant olive press inside. The press itself is 1500 years old and up until the 1950’s or 60’s was operated by blindfolded donkeys who walked round and round all day.

Civita di Bagnoregio is Italy’s most spectacular hilltop town, and most people have never heard of it! Known as the Dying City, Civita is slowly eroding and falling down the mountain from the high peak it teeters on top of. It is like an island in the sky. You need to know about Civita and add it to your Italian itinerary. Read on to find out why

Vacation homes with views from the top of the world

Make sure to visit the church in the heart of town. Originally an Etruscan temple it was repurposed as a Roman temple before eventually becoming a catholic church. Chunks of the temple columns line up outside the church like broken sentries whispering secrets from the past.

 

Civita di Bagnoregio is Italy’s most spectacular hilltop town, and most people have never heard of it! Known as the Dying City, Civita is slowly eroding and falling down the mountain from the high peak it teeters on top of. It is like an island in the sky. You need to know about Civita and add it to your Italian itinerary. Read on to find out why

The perfect spot for an evening spent in Civita

I haven’t yet stayed the night in Civita di Bagnoregio, but it is on my ever growing list of things to do in Italy. With no bars or shops open and no wandering crowds of locals or tourists, evenings sitting out under the stars with a glass of Orvieto wine must be incredible. I can only imagine how beautifully the moonlight plays on the old buildings after the sunset has painted the huge valley below in Umbrian gold.

 

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Civita di Bagnoregio

The houses in Civita date back to the Middle Ages

How To get There:

From Orvieto train station you can catch a bus to Civita di Bagnoregio.

By car from Orvieto by car take SR71. The drive is around 35 minutes.

By car from Viterbo Civita is an easy 30 minute drive on the SP6

BONUS FREE PDF

Do you get stuck trying to plot out the perfect trip? Or do you feel overwhelmed trying to figure out where in Italy to go, what to see and what to miss this time? In my book Glam Italia! How to travel Italy: Secrets To Glamorous Travel (On A Not So Glamorous Budget) I talk about a questionnaire that I give to all my Glam Italia Tour travelers to help me plan the perfect travel experience for them. The Questionnaire is available to my blog readers as a free, downloadable PDF that you can print and use as many times as you want. It works for anywhere in the world that you are planning to travel to!

If you would like a free download just  CLICK HERE

 

I love Rome.

I could easily run away to Rome and never look back. I have insanely long lists of things to do in Rome that I will need more than one lifetime to ever complete, so when I’m there it’s hard to get me to take off on a day trip unless I am leading one of my tours.

RELATED POST: 10 Things You Absolutely MUST Do In Rome

 

But people are always asking me about good day trips to do from Rome, and preferably day trips that you can do by train. If you have read my book Glam Italia! How to travel Italy: Secrets To Glamorous Travel (On A Not So Glamorous Budget) then you already know that I am a huge advocate of staying in as few places as possible, and doing lots of day trips instead of constantly packing up and moving. So much vacation time is wasted by packing, checking out, waiting to check in to the new place and then checking in. I would rather just stay in one or two locations. (If you haven’t read my book you can get your copy here.)

Most places in Italy are easily reached by train, which makes getting around incredibly easy. The high speed trains open up so many opportunities to you too. On my tours we often do day trips to Venice from Rome. It takes 3.5 hours each way by fast train, but the time whizzes by as you watch Italy through the huge, panoramic windows. It’s like being inside an episode of a National Geographic TV show!

The trains are very economical too, so you can travel around on any budget and not miss out.

The following is a list of 10 fantastic day trips from Rome by train. If you are new to train travel, or if this will be your first time in Italy, I have a hugely popular post that breaks down everything you need to know about using the trains in Italy. You can let that be your guide and take away any fears you may have about train travel and how to use the trains in a foreign country.

RELATED POST: How To Use The Trains In Italy

The 10 Best Day Trips From Rome By Train

1.Florence

The best day trips from Rome by train. Florence, what to do in Florence, things to do in Florence, Rome to Florence by train

Florence is a super easy day trip from Rome. The high speed AV trains run all day long and it only takes about an hour and 20 minutes to get there.

I recommend getting on the earliest train you can so that you can arrive in Florence before the crowds from the bus tours and the cruise ships descend on the city.  If you can handle getting up early, I recommend trying to arrive in Florence around 8 am. You will have the city to yourself and be able to take fantastic photos in popular places like the Piazza della Signoria, Palazzo Vecchio ad Ponte Vecchio without a million tourists in the way.

It is amazing to see those places empty, and be able to see all the statues, the old store fronts and the famous views. Have a 10 am cup of coffee and just watch the crowds arrive – you won’t even believe it! And you will be thanking me for making you get up so early….

RELATED POST: 10 Things You Absolutely MUST Do In Florence

2. Pompeii and Herculaneum

The best day trips from Rome. Pompeii, Pompeii day trip and 18 things you probably didn't know about Pompeii. How to do a day trip to Pompeii from Rome

Pompeii is just fantastic, and if there is any way that you can add it into your itinerary, I highly recommend it.

Pompeii is a suburb of Naples and has a train stop right outside the main gates. Take the high speed/AV train from Rome to Naples and then the little local Circumsuviana train to the Pompeii Scavi stop.

When you are done with Pompeii jump back on the train and go 3 stops to Ercolano. You have to walk a few blocks from the train but everything is well signed so you won’t get lost.

If doing both, I suggest going to Pompeii first. Learn all about what happened when Vesuvius erupted, learn about Roman roads and the clever way they built their towns – there is so much to see! After visiting Pompeii head to Herculaneum and see just how vertical the homes were, you won’t believe the intense colors of the 2000 year old frescoes, and you will get more of a feel for the community they lived in.

It is amazing how differently the two towns were impacted by the eruption. If not for a change in the wind we wouldn’t have Herculaneum. It would have disappeared over the millennia just as other towns have done.

If traveling between May and October take a big bottle of water with you and refill it as you need with cold Aqueduct water from the fountains in Pompeii. It gets very, very hot there so make sure you have a sunhat and comfortable walking shoes too.

RELATED POST: 18 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Pompeii

3. Capri, Ischia or Procida

To get to Capri you just take the fast train to Naples and then a 15 euro taxi to the harbor. The taxi will take you to the ticket booths for the hydrofoils and ferries to Capri, Ischia and Procida.

I go to Capri with all my Glam Italia Tours, and it is fabulous. There is lots to see and do and it makes a great day trip from Rome.

RELATED POST: 8 Fabulous Things To Do In Capri

Another island that I love going to but don’t get to often enough is the tiny island of Procida, which is also off the coast of Naples.

Day trips from Rome, Procida Island. Why you should visit Procida, one of the 10 most colorful places on earth

Procida Island off the coast of Naples

One of the 10 most colorful places on earth Procida  gets a fraction of the tourist traffic that nearby Capri does. It is also much, much less expensive. Read more about Procida here:

RELATED POST: Why You Should Visit Procida

Make sure you allow yourself time to eat some piazza in Naples before you take the train back to Rome.

4.TIVOLI – HADRIAN’S VILLA AND VILLA D’ESTE

This one is actually easier as a bus trip from Rome. I did it with Viator, and although it was good the tour guide drove me mental. He was desperate for us to buy leather at his friend’s shop and eat at his other friend’s restaurant which got incredibly annoying. But other than that he was a really good guide and great information.

The Best Day Trips From Rome. Hadrians Villa in Tivoli

Hadrian’s Villa/Villa Adriana outside Tivoli. This was part of Emperor Hadrian’s love nest.

The day trip took us to Hadrian’s Villa, (Villa Adriana) a UNESCO World Heritage Site near Tivoli. When Hadrian was emperor he didn’t much care for living on the Palatine Hill, so built this giant complex in the second and third decades of the 2nd century. He was thought to have been living there as his main residence from around 128 A.D.

The best day trips from Rome. Why you should visit Hadrian's Villa in Tivoli and 9 other fabulous day trips from Rome by train

The Canopus pool at Hadrian’s Villa out side Tivoli

Villa Adriana is definitely worth visiting. The complex is enormous and absolutely spectacular.

 

Just up the hill from Villa Adriana in the town of Tivoli, Villa d’Este is a 16th century villa built by Cardinal Ippolito d’Este. Much of the material used to build d’Este was pilfered from Villa Adriana.

Fountain built by Cardinal Ippolito d'Este for the pleasure of his 4 sons. Who knew a man of the cloth would have a family and boobie fountains??

Cardinal Ippolito d’Este commissioned this fountain and its twin for the pleasure of his 4 sons…. Because let’s face it – what is the point of being the richest cardinal if you don’t have a family and some boobie fountains???

In a time when there were no paparazzi to see what was going on, Popes and cardinals and who knows who else were all busy marrying and having mistresses and orgies and generally getting up to no good. Cardinal Ippolito d’Este was very wealthy, with a wife and 4 sons. He took an enormous amount of land from the locals to build his gardens at Tivoli, and at one point had 12 lawsuits against him. He didn’t care and built them anyway.

The most famous element of the gardens are the fountains. D’Este diverted the Aniene river to provide water to one of the most spectacular series of fountains and water exhibits you will ever see.

The incredible fountains at Villa D'Este in Tivoli. Villa d'Este is one of the best day trips from Rome, read on to find out about 9 other day trips from Rome that are accessible by train.

Walkways of fountains at Villa d’ Este in Tivoli

Everything is powered by the water itself, including a huge fountain that plays renaissance music several times per day. Make sure you find out when the fountain is scheduled to play and time your visit to be in front of it when it does – it is quite remarkable! We were there at 2:30, but I don’t know what other times it goes off.

This incredible water powered musical fountain clock plays renaissance music in the gardens of Villa d'Este in Tivoli. This is one of 10 fabulous day trips from Rome

The musical fountain at Villa d’Este in Tivoli

You can get to Tivoli by train but would have to get buses to and from Villa Adriana and Villa d’Este and every which way I looked at it, it seemed better to take the Viator bus trip from Rome. Just don’t eat where the guide tells you to as there are much better and less rip-off places all over Tivoli. And Tivoli is not the place to be buying leather jackets!

5.Orvieto

Orvieto is an easy day trip from Rome by train. Learn more about Orvieto and 9 othe amazing day trips from Rome by train!

Orvieto Cathedral

Just an hour from Rome by train the Umbrian border town of Orvieto is an absolute gem. From the train station you take a funicular up the hill to the medieval town. Orvieto is famous for its cathedral, which is thought to be one of Italy’s most beautiful. The outside may remind you of Siena, and the Luca Signorelli frescoes inside are said to have inspired Michelangelo’s work in the Sistine Chapel. This is a fabulous town to wander around, divert down little side streets, eat the wonderful local cuisine, and of course drink Orvieto wine! I just love Orvieto.

But there’s more! You can descend below ground to one of the most unique undergrounds in all of Italy. This is Etruscan country, and the labyrinth of tunnels and rooms below the city of Orvieto were dug by the Etruscans more than 2500 years ago.

Marlena di Blasi’s book The Lady in the Palazzo: An Umbrian Love Story is set in Orvieto. She and her husband Fernando live there now after 1000 days in Venice, and another 3 years in Tuscany. I just love her books and recommend reading this one before going to Orvieto. I love recognizing the various streets and shops and eateries she talks about, it adds even more flavor to the experience! I always am on the lookout for her but have never seen her when I have been in town. Not that I even know what I would do if I did see her – is it madly geeky to fan-girl on up to an author and tell them you love their books?

6. Viterbo

Viterbo is a magical medieval town an hour from Rome by train. For 20 years during the 13th century it was the home of the Pope. Considered one of the best preserved medieval towns in all of Italy, Viterbo is a fantastic place to just wander and take in all the history.

With a population of around 60,000 there are some wonderful places to eat and some good shopping. The Pope’s Palace and the Papal Hot Springs are probably the biggest tourist sites, but in my opinion this is a town to visit with no agenda and a good appetite.

7. Civita di Bagnoreggio

This one takes a little longer to reach but is well worth seeing!

Civita di Bagnoregio is a wonderful day trip to take from Rome. Known as the dying city , it is slowly eroding and falling down the mountain. Learn more about Civita as well as 9 other day trips from Rome by train here

Civita di Bagnoreggio, also known as La Citta Che Muore/The Dying Town was founded on a hilltop by the Etruscans 2500+ years ago. Over the millenia the town has slowly been eroding away and falling down the hillside. In 2006 it was placed on the World Monuments Fund’s watch list of the 100 most endangered sites due to the danger it faces from both erosion and also unregulated tourism.

Architecturally it is quite fantastic. Being so remote and isolated much of the architecture spanning back hundreds of years is unaltered. It was the birthplace of Saint Bonaventure, who died back in 1274. Since then his childhood home fell off the cliff as the town eroded.

Civita di Bagnoregio, the dying city, is a fabulous day trip from Rome. Learn all about Civita as well as 9 other of the best day trips from Rome by train in this post

On the bridge to Civita di Bagnoregio

There are no cars in Civita, and in fact the only way into the town is via a walking bridge that bridges a giant chasm and looks like the great wall of China. Civita is like an island in the sky with 365 degree views.

The year round population is only 7 people, and in the summer it swells to 100. Tourists have bought up some of the homes and modernized them a little, but Civita feels like it is a place that time forgot.

It is just fantastic.

Without a car the best way to get to Civita from Rome is to take the train to Orvieto and then from the Orvieto train station take the bus to Civita. If you were to do both in one day I would get an early start, do Civita first, and then swan around Orvieto all afternoon and into the evening.

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8. Tarquinia

Two and a half hours from Rome this is another train and bus combo trip and is perfect for anyone interested in some really ancient history. The burial grounds or nercropolis date back to the Iron Age of the 9th century B.C.

Tarquinii was one of the most important and ancient Etruscan towns, and has a fascinating history.

2500 year old frescoes inside the Tomba degli Scudi in Tarquinia. Tarquinia is a great day trip from Rome. Learn about this and 9 other day trips from Rome in the accompanying post

The necropolis is one of Italy’s most important Etruscan sites. More than 6000 tombs have been excavated here, 140 of which have vivid, incredible frescoes, 20 of which ar eopen to the public.

You also need to visit the Museo Archeologico while there to see some pretty sensational Etruscan artifacts.

 

9. Ostia Antica

From the steep amphitheater to Neptune’s Baths to the Thermopolium, an ancient café with a bar and traces of the old menu frescoed on the wall, a trip to Ostia Antica is almost like visiting a mini Pompeii. The mosaics are sensational, and by themselves alone are worth the trip, but there is just so much here to see!

Ostia Antica is a fantastic day trip from Rome. Learn about Ostia as well as 9 other perfect day trips from Rome, all of which you can do easily by train

Ruins at Ostia Antica

Book ahead to have a guide take you into one of the two Case Decorate (decorated houses) to see the 2000 year old frescoes. The guided tours are on Sundays at 10:30 am, (but check to see if they offer more when you will be in Rome) and you cannot go inside the houses without a guide.

Another point of interest, especially if you a traveling with young boys, is the public toilet at the Terme del Foro. 20 well preserved latrines line a long stone bench where ancient Romans would socialize while going about their business!

Ostia Antica is an easy 25 minute train ride from the Pirimide station. Wear good walking shoes and plan on spending several hours there – there is so much to see!

10.Venice

Venice can be a fabulous day trip from Rome when you take the high speed train. Learn more about it as well as 9 other fantastic day trips from Rome by train

Views from the Grand Canal in Venice

The most unique city on earth is easily accessible from Rome by train, and is well worth the trip. From Roma Termini station it takes around 3 and a half hours. If you can get them buy tickets on the 6:15 Italo train, which will get you into Venice by 10 am. If not, the 8:15 will get you in around noon.

RELATED POST: 15 Things You Absolutely Must Do In Venice

Venice can be a fabulous day trip from Rome when you take the high speed train. Learn more about it as well as 9 other fantastic day trips from Rome by train

The last trains out of Venice leave between 7pm and 8 pm, so you do need to maximize your time on the ground. I have made a downloadable PDF with 10 of my secret things to do in Venice, including my two favorite places to eat and some really fabulous places to walk and be far from the cruise ship crowds. This is information that will never be on the blog and is for people who a serious about seeing more than Rialto Bridge to St Marks Square. Get your Secret Venice PDF Here

Do you have any day trips from Rome that you would like to add to the list? If so please tell me in the comments section below.

xo