13 dream villages in Lazio, Italy

A self-guided tour of the beautiful places and towns near Rome in the Lazio region and a bit of Umbria

I started my solo trip in the summer of 2014 with Italy, and my first reference city was Rome, which I hadn’t been to since 2009, which is 5 years, and so I booked 7 months in advance a hotel near Termini Station for 8 nights.

Out of those eight days I had set aside three days to see close to Rome and its surroundings in a way that was not too far away, around 1 to 2 hours by transport from Rome.

After reading reports and researching the Lazio region, I chose cities and made an itinerary for these three days:

FIRST DAY – July 21, 2014.

On this day I got to see for the first time two small towns in the Lazio region, on the so-called Odyssey Coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea, which is about 1 hour from Rome – Terracina and Sperlonga

I first drove from Rome to the town of Terracina, which has beautiful beaches and a well-preserved medieval district.

I arrived in Terracina early in the morning – July 21, 2014 from Rome – first by regional train (one hour ride) to the station – Monte S.Biagio, and then from there by bus in 10 minutes to the town of Terracina

-For details on how to get from Rome first to Terracina and then from Terracina to Sperlonga, I wrote a detailed advice in the section “Tips for Italy”. Which is called – “How to get from Rome to Terracina and Sperlonga”.

On a small road (pictured above), I began to climb the hill where the old medieval part of Terracina is

– Through the medieval gateway I entered the old town of Terracina

-The size of the medieval part of Terracina is small – 300 meters long and 150 meters wide. Everything is quite compact.

-I soon came to another medieval gate of Terrarachina. The lower part of the masonry is made by the ancient Romans, as through this gate passed the famous Appian Way, built by the Romans in the 3rd century BC, which linked Rome and the south of Italy.

-The whole of the old Terracina is surrounded by fortress walls, but they are such that you would not immediately realize that they are towers and walls, in which the locals now live and cut through windows and made apartments. most likely since the Middle Ages.

-As I said, the old town is small and so after leaving the gate, I walked along the perimeter along the fortress walls.

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-Then through the third medieval gate I returned to the old town and went into the heart of it, to the Cathedral Square.

-On the left side of the tower is a small archaeological museum of Terracina

-Before the end of the 19th century, St. Cesarius Cathedral was the summer residence of the popes. On the site of the Cathedral there was previously a Roman temple, and the first Christian cathedral on this site is known from the 5th century. The first Christian church on this site is known from the 5th century. It has been rebuilt many times and the present cathedral from the 12th/13th centuries remains almost unchanged.

From the City Museum on the main square in Old Terratina there are beautiful views of the city.

-In the distance the sea seems far away but it’s only a 20 minutes walk.

-Then I just walked along the top of the fortress walls, which sometimes ended in dead ends or led to the doors of the locals’ apartments.

-So, I made a circle around old Terratina again and then went down to the New Town

After having seen the medieval Terracina I took the bus from the same bus stop that I went to Sperlonga (15-20 minutes by car). The road above the mountain Terracina, on the top of the church of Jupiter at an altitude of 220 meters, was very beautiful.

-From the same bus stop I took the same bus to Sperlonga, the second city of the Odyssey Coast which is situated about 12 km from Terracina. The bus in Sperlonga first makes a stop on the mountain, where the oldest and most interesting part of Sperlonga is located, and then goes down the mountain to the beaches. I got off at the stop on the mountain by the ruined church and immediately found myself in Sperlonga’s only large square. In this square is the municipality of Sperlonga.

-Fleeing from pirate raids, the inhabitants of Sperlonga in the Middle Ages, climbed up and began to live high on the mountain, literally digging into the rock. Therefore, many houses are half-built in caves. From these caves the town got its name – Sperlonga.

-Sperlonga has typical white houses.

-There are not streets, but rather paths that follow the natural irregularities of the terrain.

-The old part of Sperlonga is even smaller than Terracina, only 150 meters long and 100 meters wide.

-There are arches between the houses, so that they support each other. Sperlonga has only 4 thousand inhabitants and is filled with tourists in summer.

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-After walking through the streets, it was time to go down to the beaches of Sperlonga, which surround it on two sides – both south and north.

The road down to the south beach was not steep. and even wide by local standards.

-The beaches at Sperlonga stretch for 10 kilometers and are considered some of the best in Italy.

-Walking along the south beach of Sperlonga, I reached the grotto of the Roman Emperor Tiberius.

I came to the end of the beach, about 2 kilometers to the grotto of Emperor Tiberius, who built a villa in Sperlonga in the 1st century.

-The villa itself is only a ruin.

-Villa Tiberius was a large size and occupied almost half of this beach, descending directly to the sea. I made a stop on this beach and bathed and rested for about two hours in the warm sea. The sea here is quite shallow and you have to go far from the shore to swim, but that’s good for small children.

-After resting, I decided to walk around the rock on which Sperlonga is standing along the sea and to get to the north beach, walking along the sea on the path. I walked through the Arch next to where Sperlonga’s lighthouse stands and soon I saw the beach on its north side

-Here in New Town there’s actually one street that runs parallel to the beach to the north-via Chistoforo Colimbo (you can walk there in 15 to 20 minutes, there are a couple of grocery stores and a small supermarket.

Next I went upstairs and took the bus back to Terracina. Sperlonga is great for both beach vacation and sightseeing .

-From Sperlonga to Terracina I returned again after about five hours and walked its beaches, it was evening and there was a heavy downpour, which quickly ended

-There are also sections of free beaches.

-In the evening I returned to Rome. I liked Sperlonga better than Terracina, but the beaches and the sea in both towns are excellent.

I dedicated the 22nd of July 2014 to the sights of the city of Tivoli. Five kilometers from Tivoli there is a huge villa of the Roman Emperor Hadrian, built 1800 years ago, and since I am a lover of antiquity, so I could not miss it.

From Rome I first took a bus to the town, and then another local bus to the villa of Emperor Hadrian, which is only 5 kilometers from Tivoli. On how to get to Hadrian’s Villa, I described in detail in the branch of the Tourister – “Tips. Italy” and called it – “How to get from Tivoli to the Villa of Emperor Hadrian on your own.

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-In the very beginning, when you enter the Villa Hadrian, you can see in the pavilion a model of the villa. as it was in its heyday in the 2-3 centuries AD. The ticket costs 11 euros and is open from 0900 hours. I arrived at the beginning of ten, almost in time for the opening.

-The whole area of Hadrian’s Villa since the 2nd century was surrounded by a brick wall.

-We enter the gate in the Roman wall and find ourselves at the Villa’s Great Pool. Hadrian’s Villa was created as his summer retreat. and he built it in 118-134.

-It is said that Hadrian disliked Rome, so he built the villa about 30 kilometers from Rome, although it was not a villa, but a city, with 5,000 slaves to service the underground utilities alone!

-So his favorite places in his travels were reproduced in his Villa

-The hardest blow to the destruction of Hadrian’s Villa, was inflicted by the Romans themselves. So. Emperor Constantine 150 years later, in the 4th century, removed the most valuable sculptures and works of art from it when he founded Constantinople.

Two centuries later, in the 6th century, the Vandals destroyed everything.

-And even in spite of this destruction, when excavations of the villa began in the 16th century, Cardinal D’Este, took out marble columns and more than 300 other sculptures that are in major museums of the world, such as -Discobol. Diana of Versailles and others.

-And even in spite of all these pogroms, the villa is impressive, although much of it has not been excavated to this day.

-Next to the Small Pool is a museum.

-The museum contains what has not been looted in 2,000 years, and what has been found more recently. The museum is included in the ticket price of the villa.

-People in the villa was not much – only a few small tourist groups, but they are lost in the scale of the villa.

-The villa complex included palaces, several theaters, libraries, stadiums, barracks and stables, and rooms for courtiers and slaves.

-there were more than 30 large buildings, some more than nine stories high.

And in the distance on the mountain you can see the city of Tivoli, which is 5 km away. I really enjoyed all these ruins, it’s certainly grandiose.

-Villa Cardinal Gregoriana was next, in fact it’s a park and one of the most beautiful places in Italy. Here you can wander through the caves, grottoes, mountain trails, enjoy waterfalls, one of which has a height of over a hundred meters, ancient temples, and can not even believe that all this is almost within the city of Tivoli.

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After visiting Villa Gregoriana, I took bus number 4 that stops at the ticket office of Villa Gregoriana and takes me to the terminal at the circular square on the outskirts of Tivoli, almost to the entrance of Villa Gregoriana.

-The entrance to Villa Gregoriana costs 8 euros, and they give you a guide to the park with trails, including one in Russian. The park is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. – Monday off

-The Villa Gregoriana is more of a park, laid out by Pope Gregory the 16th in the 19th century, after the River Agnène burst its banks and swept away half of the old Tivoli. The river was tucked away in tunnels and waterfalls made at the end of them.

-Villa Gregoriana is an example of a romantic garden with waterfalls, grottos and bluffs.

-There are resting places where you can bake and make a picnic in nature, there are comfortable toilets

-After going down to the Minor Falls, I then had to climb up the steep stairs to the Temple of Vesta on the mountain.

-Right next to the Temple of Vesta there is a famous restaurant, which visited a lot of celebrities, including members of the Romanov royal family, from Russia.

The temple of the goddess Vesta was originally covered with a low dome with a large opening for the exit of the smoke of the sacred fire.

-After the park, I wandered through the medieval streets of Tivoli and returned to Rome. However, you have to realize that the best attraction in Tivoli – is the Villa Cardinal D Este, which I did not go to, because I visited it back in 2009.

My opinion is that those who are in Rome should take a day in Tivoli and see its famous villas, otherwise it is like being in St. Petersburg and not seeing Peterhof

On this day, July 23, 2014, I had to see the ancient and beautifully preserved cities of Viterbo in the Lazio region and Orvieto in the Umbria region.

First, I took the train to Umbria to the city of Orvieto in the morning. On how to get to Orvieto, I wrote a detailed tip in the Tourister’s thread “Tips. Orvieto-Italy” thread called “How to get from Rome to Orvieto”.

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From Rome to Orvieto it’s only 1 hour and 15 minutes by regional train.

Orvieto is located on the flat top of a huge hill made of volcanic tuff.

The entire medieval city is on the mountain and the views of the Umbrian plain are magnificent from any point

-Orvieto is one of the most impressive cities in Europe – the medieval city actually rises above a virtually vertical cliff, and this vertiginous view is completed by defensive walls of the same tufa, beautiful churches, Papal palaces, untouched medieval quarters.

Arriving in Orvieto early in the morning, I had to take a funicular from the station square up the tufa mountain and the first thing that greets us in Orvieto is its fortress-Albornos, which was built in the 16th century, but the fortress walls in Orvieto were long before that.

The Etruscans, who founded Orvieto in the 6th century, also built the walls.

-Orvieto can be reached on foot; it’s only 1 kilometer long and 800 meters wide. The funicular takes you up the mountain to old Orvieto and you can walk up any street to the center of Orvieto, in Piazza Duomo, where the medieval church is located.

-The Romanesque-Gothic cathedral of Orvieto is one of the most beautiful in Italy. In 1310 the main façade of the cathedral was finished

-The main cathedral is decorated with mosaics with biblical themes.

-I walked through the streets of medieval Orvieto.

-In the Middle Ages Orvieto, halfway between Florence and Rome, was a big city of 6,000 people in the 13th century.

-It is a very beautiful city and its houses are made of tufa, which is a soft stone and has a brownish-pink color, so all the houses and the cathedrals and the fortress walls are of this color.

-Many houses in Orvieto are 500-700 years old

-In the late 13th century, Thomas Aquinas, the famous philosopher and theologian of the Middle Ages, taught here, making Orvieto the cultural center of the area.

-I decided to walk as far as possible along the fortress walls of Orvieto, which offer excellent views of the Umbrian region.

-The subterranean Orvieto, which has long kept its secrets of underground caves, wells and labyrinths, also deserves attention. They are now open to tourists and have been dug into the soft tufa rock.

So, to get into the underworld, just enter the bar and buy a ticket for 2 euros from the owner, explore the interesting underground premises under the ground, which are called – the well Kava

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