THE ROMAN COUNTRYSIDE: WHERE TO FIND THE HIDDEN GEMS

The Roman countryside has been a refuge from big city Rome for millennia and the allure of Rome’s countryside has only increased with time.

We’ve asked Annalisa from the Travel Connect Experience to share her knowledge of the Roman countryside because, no one knows the best spots better than a native.  Annalisa is an Italian who grew up in a big city and has a passion for the wilderness. She spends her free time exploring Italy’s hidden gems while she is saving up to found an eco-village. Roman bridge in Roman countryside

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A trip to the Roman countryside during on a sunny day is the perfect way to remedy the stress caused by traveling in one of the most visited cities in Europe.

If you’re looking for a place to stay in Rome, be sure to check out the Trevi Beau Boutique Hotel for a nice place to rest after your countryside adventures.

Just a few kilometers away from the historical center of Rome, you will find yourself immersed in green landscapes of rolling hills, crystal clear lakes, and ancient forests. The contemporary Romans usually flee to Rome’s countryside on weekends to enjoy lunches prepared with genuine food and served along with local wines and to take long walks.

Even history lovers can be easily satisfied exploring medieval villages, secret museums, Renaissance villas and prehistoric ruins that abound in the Roman countryside.

Here are some amazing sites that you can visit right around Rome in the beautiful Roman countryside. 

Veio Park

Although Rome is full of trees and dotted with public parks, if you want to take a walk in nature away from the noise of the city, you need to move away from the historic center. The Veio Regional Park occupies 14,000 hectares of land in the countryside northeast of Rome.

Two thousand years ago, Veio was one of the most powerful centers of the Etruscan civilization, which the Romans conquered after a long siege. The territories where the Etruscans ruled, between Lazio, Umbria and Tuscany are part of the region known today as “Tuscia“.

Highlights of the park

The park hides 50 km of underground tunnels that were created by the Etruscans, skilled hydraulic engineers, to exploit the waterways in the region. Tunnels are accessible to the most adventurous explorers.

There are remains of the foundations of temples, one of which is dedicated to the “Apollo of Veio”. Some of the statues found in the park are kept at the National Etruscan Museum in Rome.

Walking through the paths of this park, you come across horses, cows, wild boars and recently traces of wolves have been found.

The most fascinating part of the park is the Valle Del Sorbo, where there are the remains of an ancient bridge, a mill and a waterfall.

The Sanctuary of the Madonna del Sorbo, one of the stages of the Via Francigena, the ancient pilgrim route that crosses France and Italy to Rome is immersed in the Veio Park.

How to get to Veio Regional Park near Rome

If you drive, reach one of the two main entries with free parking for cars either near the village of Isola Farnese or the town of Formello.

By public transport, take a train from Valle Aurelia Station to LA Storta and then walk for 2 km to the hamlet of Isola Farnese.

The artists’ village of Calcata Vecchia

In the countryside between Rome and the city of Viterbo, there are many villages perched on spurs of ancient lava rock (tuff) and surrounded by lush ravines with streams that flow into the Tiber, the river that runs through Rome. The most picturesque village of the area is Calcata Vecchia.

Curiosities about Calcata

Calcata was built on a Faliscan city (the Faliscans were contemporary to the Etruscans and with a very similar culture) and flourished during the Middle Ages. It is said that the small church in the center of the village has long kept a relic of Christ, a strip of foreskin, and was therefore a pilgrimage destination.

Compared to other villages in the region, Calcata continues to attract visitors because since the late 60’s, it has become a unique artistic and cultural center. Independent artists from all over the world have come here to devote themselves to what they loved in flight from widespread disruptive industrialization and globalization.

Today the tiny Calcata Vecchia is full of art studios and craft stores, cute cafes, and typical restaurants.

The narrow alleys of the medieval village are decorated with plants, flowers, and sculptures. Passing under romantic arches and arcades you will find yourself on terraces overlooking the edge of the cliff on which the village stands. The views are breathtaking in all seasons, as the vegetation of the gorge is evergreen.

How to get to Calcata Vecchia

Calcata Vecchia is convenient to reach by car. Leave the car in the parking area outside the village and then continue on foot for 15 minutes.

Lake Bracciano

Around Rome there are several lakes of volcanic origin. Lake Bracciano differs from the others because motorboats are prohibited on the lake in order to preserve the purity of its waters which, fed by underground rivers, supply the taps of hundreds of thousands of homes in nearby Rome.

Main attractions on Lake Bracciano

The main point of historical interest in the area of Lake Bracciano is the anonymous castle. The castle, of ancient origin, was renovated in the 15th century by the wealthy Orsini family and today is used as a museum. The rooms still retain the original furniture, while the frescoes covering ceilings and walls have been restored. The weddings of famous people such as American actor Tom Cruise were held in this castle. Entrance to the castle costs €8.50.

There are three villages overlooking Lake Bracciano: Bracciano, Anguillara, and Trevignano. All three towns have picturesque and pleasant historic centers to walk through and stop to taste the local products, such as fried fish from the lake or homemade pasta with fresh tomatoes and fish from the lake.

If you visit the lake during the summer, you should definitely take a refreshing swim. The beaches are more easily accessible from the historic center of Anguillara. There are opportunities to have fun even for the most sporty: stand-up paddle-boarding, windsurfing, and kayaking.

How to get from Rome to Lake Bracciano

To reach Lake Bracciano from Rome, take the city train to Bracciano or Anguillara from Valle Aurelia station.

Where to stay in Lake Bracciano

Why not stay the night (or two?) in Lake Bracciano at the Hotel Villa Clementine?

Rome’s countryside hides dozens of hot-springs

In a region where some of Europe’s largest volcanoes were once present, there could be no shortage of hot springs. In the countryside near Rome, there is a long tradition of bathing and spa treatments. The water is rich in minerals that revitalize the body and the mind.

How to choose the most suitable thermal center

There are thermal centers for all tastes and wallets. To choose the most suitable place, inquire about the temperature of the water.
The temperature of the Acque Albule thermal pools near Tivoli are around 20°C, while the waters of the Terme di Stigliano in the north of Rome have a temperature of just under 40°C.

Locals frequent the spas near Rome throughout the year, but the best times are the months of March to May and October to early December.

Walk inside the largest necropolis in the Mediterranean

Before Ancient Rome became an unstoppable force of domination over the Italian peninsula and the entire West, central Italy was inhabited by other people of advanced culture, including the Etruscans from whom the Romans also learned, and not only, hydraulic and architectural techniques.

Etruscan Necropolis

Recent studies of comparative archaeology have shown that the ruins of Etruscan necropolis and acropolis are so similar to those of other Mediterranean civilizations that a homogeneous prehistoric culture of the so-called “peoples of the sea” is theorized.

The Necropolis of Cerveteri

In the countryside north-west of Rome, a few kilometers from the coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea, is the largest necropolis of the whole Mediterranean Sea, the Etruscan Necropolis of Cerveteri.

How to visit the necropolis

The tomb area extends for 450 hectares and is divided into several sections, to see it all you need a whole day.

The tombs are of different types and sizes: covered with mounds of earth or dug into the tender tuffaceous rock. The furnishings found in the tombs have been transferred to the Etruscan museums of Cerveteri, Rome, but also to important museums around the world.

The vast majority of the tombs can be toured, you just need to be willing to walk in and carry a flashlight.

Etruscan Necropolis

The largest part of the necropolis can be accessed for a fee, the ticket costs €8.50 and includes a 45-minute guided tour that will show you the most important tombs.

Eating at an Agriturismo

Dining at an Agriturismo is often an excellent excuse to leave the city behind and immerse yourself in one of the splendid landscapes near Rome. In Italy, an “agriturismo” is usually defined as a farmhouse with accommodation and a restaurant, far from a residential area and surrounded by nature. Some agritourisms self-produce all the food they offer in their restaurant.

Pasta at an agritourism
Casale Sul Fiume Treja, near a wooded area with small waterfalls and an adventure trail for children, offers different types of hospitality. You can access the picnic area and cook your own food in the BBQ area, buy baskets with local products, or eat at the restaurant. Donkeys, rabbits, cats and geese roam freely in the area.

The farmhouse “Il Camoscio” in Ceri, a few kilometers from the sea, focuses its offer on homemade meat dishes, to be enjoyed in a room next to the fireplace or with a relaxing view of the Roman countryside.

Want to know more about Rome and its remarkable countryside?

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Talek Nantes

This blog was created to inspire your travels and to explore experiences in fascinating locations. What you will find are thoughts on how to immerse yourself in local culture, food, history and people. On your way to these adventures I hope to provide you with useful information to help you get there. Come see the world with me!

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