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It’s no secret that Rome is one of our all-time favorite European cities. The bustling heart, capital, and economic engine of Italy is in constant reinvention: a mix of the radically new and the utterly ancient, the flashy and the quietly understated. But even a city as dynamic and fascinating as Rome can leave one seeking a bit of a respite from the crowds. To offer a few alternatives, and the chance to get out into the legendary Italian countryside, we've put together five of our favorite day trips, easily accessible by car or train, from the Eternal City.
From seaside getaways on the fabled Amalfi Coast to a taste of Tuscany an hour north of the city, these quick day trips from Rome offer the unexpected and unforgettable—even if you only have 24 hours to enjoy them.
Formerly the central harbor city of ancient Roman, Ostia Antica is just a short train ride from Rome's Piramide station. Today, it boasts a museum, nature preserve, and open archeological site featuring historic frescoes, mosaics, and traditional Roman buildings restored and carefully tended. Situated between the Tiber River and the Tyrrhenian Sea, perfumed by the sea, we recommend lingering to wander the nearby town, which offers quaint eateries, cobblestone streets, and a Tuscan escape right in the suburbs of Rome. (Note: the grounds close on Mondays, so plan accordingly)
Traditionally the journey to Florence, both by car or train, could take upwards of three hours (and was anything but relaxing). But thanks to new high-speed offerings from Italo and Trenitalia, you can easily make the journey from Rome to the cradle of the Renaissance in just over an hour.
Board an early train and see the "Birth of Venus" at the Uffizi Gallery; marvel at the Gothic architecture of Santa Maria Novella; shop the Ponte Vecchio; wander the Boboli Gardens, a treasured jewel in the Medici family crown; experience Florence's public art at the Forte di Belvedere; and dine at one of the area's many phenomenal restaurants. We recommend stopping at either offering by Fabio Picchi, Florence's celebrated "chef, locavore, historian, entrepreneur, diplomat, philosopher, author, visionary and impresario"; these include the understated Cibrèo or the Teatro del Sale, located in a former 14th-century convent.
Stay the night:
Not ready to leave? Spend a bit more time in the city and book a suite at the Il Salviatino, a stunning historic 15th-century villa crafted into the cyprus-dotted hills overlooking Florence's legendary terracotta roofs and domed churches. Initially a Roman fortress before its later purchase and renovation by poet and journalist Ugo Ojetti in 1911, today it boasts 44-uniquely decorated rooms and suites, as well as a magnificent wood-paneled library once visited by Salvador Dalì and Gabriele D’Annunzio. On-premises is a spa offering couples massages and grape seed wine baths, a lushly manicured outdoor pool area, fitness center, greenhouse, and a restaurant serving organic delicacies like whole seasonal fish on the grill or risotto with razor clams in a celery broth. If you can tear yourself away, a short ride up the hill is Fiesole, a former Etruscan compound featured in the literary works of E.M Forster and Hermann Hesse, that contains the ruins of the Roman baths and amphitheaters, museum, a breathtaking hillside monastery, several traditional eateries, and miles of poppy flower-dotted Tuscan countryside.
Often referred to as "the most romantic garden in the world," the Garden of Ninfa, located in central Lazio, is the closest thing to Eden on earth. An hour and some change from Rome by car—or, take the train to Latina for the shuttle bus—visiting this national monument can feel like stepping into a real-life fairytale. Built in the Pontine Marshes (Agro Pontino) on the ruins of a medieval town, Ninfa, the Italian word for Nymph, houses the ancient temple of the Naiad Nymphs, the goddesses of spring water. Today, the area is lovingly restored and framed by poplars and houses a meadow of wildflowers, manicured gardens, and the River Ninfa, which contains the same rare trout imported from Africa by the Romans thousands of years ago. Open from April to November, the gardens are home to 1300 botanical species, from the water iris to rare South American flowering plants, and provides the perfect setting for an ethereal and relaxing day.
Pompeii and Naples
Pompeii, the legendary "lost city" blanketed by ash and forgotten when nearby Mt. Vesuvius erupted in 7.9 A.D, is a must-visit for any first-time day tripper from Rome. What most don't realize is that Naples, the historic coastal port, and Italy's third-largest city, is just 30 minutes away and well worth the detour. Combining both attractions in one trip allows visitors to see the treasures of Pompeii and then experience the breathtaking Bay of Naples, take a romantic boat excursion to Ischia or Capri, visit the National Archaeological Museum, which contains rare Roman art and artifacts rescued from Pompeii and Herculaneum, or feast on the coast's freshest seafood. After a day of sightseeing, try Naples’ signature sweet almond pastry, the sfogliatella, or, if you're feeling adventurous, book a tour of Napoli Sotteranea, a series of underground ruins from the Greek and Roman eras buried far beneath the streets. The tunnel's locus sits below the San Lorenzo Maggiore church, which now houses the remains of a Roman market.
At 3.5 hours by car from Rome, Positano in a day may seem like a stretch. But if you, like most of us, are dying to see the Italian Riviera, Viator offers no-stress day trips to the coast that scoop guests up in central Rome before whisking them away to the breathtaking mountain peaks and stunning vistas of the Amalfi Coast. (Pro-tip: we can't recommend strongly enough not attempting this drive on your own.) For those traveling with a larger party, we also suggest booking a private tour. If long car rides seem less than relaxing, don't worry: most Viator day trips offer stops along the way at local markets, other seaside cities (like Sorrento and Amalfi), visits to historic sites, and even meals at specially pre-selected local eateries where you can experience authentic Italian culture while throwing back a strong cup of espresso. With most tours returning in the early evening, you'll also have plenty of time to enjoy a late-night dip in the pool.
Stay the night:
Can't bear to leave the Amalfi Coast just yet? Book a room at Monastero Santa Rosa Hotel & Spa, part of White Line Hotel's bespoke luxury collection. At only 20 suites, this quaint 17th-century former monastery is the perfect cliffside retreat and overlooks Amalfi's famous lemon trees, olive groves, and endless blue waves. At the spa, traditional herbs used by the area's Dominican nuns to soothe bodies and spirits feature heavily in artisanal massages, soaks, and scrubs. Also on the property is a four-tiered garden modeled on the Vatican, which stands watch over the nearby fishing village of Conca de Marini, offering a taste of traditional coastal life steps from all the modern amenities of a luxury hotel.