Rome is not only the Eternal City, but a city of infinite opportunities for exploration. While you can experience the highlights with just three days in Rome, the fact is that you could spend three weeks, three months or even three lifetimes in the city and still not fully grasp the three (plus!) millennia of civilized society that have blossomed here. Rome’s periphery also offers a wealth of destinations to discover, and since attempting to see everything within Rome’s city limits would ultimately be in vain, you might as well set your sights slightly outside them.
Ostia Antica – The Ancient Port
Rome is about as landlocked as you can get, the Tiber river that divides the city notwithstanding, which is why it might sound strange that a port would be one of the best day trips from Rome. Indeed, Ostia Antica dates back to the time of the ancient Romans, so the idea of Rome as a port city is certainly alien to anyone alive today. In addition to the ancient ruins and mosaics you find at Ostia Antica, the port offers you a chance to catch a fresh Mediterranean sea breeze – a welcome respite from Rome’s red-hot summer days.
The Medieval Villages of Sabine Hills
The most stunning heritage in the heart of Rome relates to the Roman Empire, and while the city has buildings and cultural icons that represent every part of its history, it’s ultimately best to head out of the city to appreciate medieval Rome – specifically, to the Sabine Hills, located around 90 minutes due east of Rome by bus or private car.
As you stroll along cobbled streets, with castles from the 9th and 10th century towering over you, you’ll feel transported back in time, perhaps even moreso than in the city.
Renaissance Gardens in Tivoli
If the Sabine Hills are the perfect place to take in the ambiance of Medieval Rome, then you’ll want to head closer into the city, specifically to the village of Tivoli, to appreciate the Renaissance, in the form of dramatic flowers, trees and waterfalls at Villa d’Este. Even here, however, you get to appreciate the splendor of ancient Rome, as you traipse through the corridors of Hadrian’s Villa, the residence of the Roman emperor of the same name.
A Beach Day in Sperlonga
Just as the idea of a port seems strange on a hot day in Rome, so too does the thought of relaxing on the beach. When you head to the coastal town of Sperlonga, however, that’s exactly what the task of the day is. Of course, if you’re not feeling like a beach bum, there’s plenty to explore in Sperlonga, whose geography evokes Cinque Terre in Italy’s northwest, and which is home to some seaside Roman ruins.
No matter which of these day trips you take from Rome, you’ll find your time in the Eternal City enhanced, even if it means you have less chances to explore the trodden paths of central Rome.