Cool towns around Rome to visit?
July 23, 2012 7:55 AM   Subscribe

Cool towns around Rome to visit?

Heading to Rome on Aug 2. Thinking about visiting some towns around Rome as both of us have been to Rome before. Any recommendations on cool towns that are close to Rome? We need to return to Rome to fly out so we can't stray too far. Friends say Naples ain't worth a trip out for.

Likes: Wine. Pasta. Cheap but nice accommodations. Riding bikes in quaint towns. Train ride away from Rome or easy transport at least.

Dislikes: Nothing. It's Italy!
posted by grak88 to Travel & Transportation around Rome, Italy (10 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Siena is beautiful, but I guess not all that much closer than Naples. Have you been to Pompeii?
posted by kickingtheground at 8:06 AM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Trains in Italy are good and can (depending on the service) be very fast. If you want to go somewhere to stay overnight and spend a couple of days there, then many of Italy's town's cities are easily visitable within those parameters: Florence, Bologna, Milan, wherever. An alternative might be to take a multi-day, multi-city trip someplace: Umbria, say, and spend a day exploring Perugia, go down the road to Assisi, and then the next day out to Spoleto,and then back to Rome. If you're thinking more about day trips out of Rome on the train, then there's several places within an hour and half that might be worth looking at. Orvieto would be the obvious choice: about an hour on the train from Termini, a beautiful place to spend the day. Viterbo would be another possibility: a little more difficult to get to, you'd have to get the train from one of Rome's outlying stations, but worth the travel. And Anagni possibly: smaller, so less to see, but the frescos in the cathedral's crypt are simply one of the most astonishingly beautiful things I've ever seen.
posted by hydatius at 8:36 AM on July 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

I really liked Pompeii and Naples. Pompeii is enormous and I was there for a day and only saw a fraction of it. It's absolutely astounding and amazing. The Amalfi coast is gorgeous.

The food, amazing.

So that's my recommendation.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:56 AM on July 23, 2012

Seconding Orvieto as a really lovely day away; we had some excellent food and wine (and took a case of the local wine home, which was tasty), and the cathedral is beautiful. Not sure about its suitability for staying the night, though.
posted by catch as catch can at 9:06 AM on July 23, 2012

Having lived in Viterbo, I can say that's a delightful day trip to a tiny medieval town. Highlights include very old papal buildings, a good regional museum, tasty gelato, a billion fountains, and the gardens of the Villa Lante at Bagnaia. It's on several commuter lines from Rome so it's not that hard to get to. Orvieto is stunning and more tourist-friendly; it has a beautiful duomo and several good museums focused on Etruscan specimens. Siena is better as an overnight trip as it's still several hours by train away, but again easy to get to and lovely. Honestly, I love Napoli. I get why most people don't. Herculaneum is stunning, though, as is Pompeii. Sorrento is super-touristy but far nicer than Napoli; most Americans stay there. The Circumvesuviana trains are very easy to use to get around.
posted by jetlagaddict at 9:30 AM on July 23, 2012

Tivoli is wonderful, easy to get to, and has way more stuff to do than you can do in a day. The Villa Adriana and Villa d'Este in particular are not to be missed, if you haven't already been there you really must go.

Farther afield, Assisi is only a little farther than Orvieto (and much closer than Naples), and is also wonderful.
posted by ubiquity at 9:56 AM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh, yeah, Tivoli is fantastic.

One thing to keep in mind is that August tends to be a serious vacation month. If there are any museums, restaurants, or shops that you are especially interested in, it may be worth it to phone (or have your Rome hotel do so) ahead or check online to make sure they are open or to see if there are any vacation hours in effect.
posted by jetlagaddict at 10:16 AM on July 23, 2012

Pretty far north, but I stayed in Reggio Emilia for several weeks and loved it. A little sleepy, but with the same kind of wandering construction as Rome. The climate is more conducive to wandering than Rome's.

This might not be of great use, but somewhere along the highway near Reggio Emilia is a truck stop where I had the best meal of my life, and I've eaten a lot of meals that would qualify as someone's best meal. You walked in and pointed at a piece of meat behind glass. They cook your meat and give it to you, and you go sit on a bench while people with giant plates of different kinds of pasta come and shovel it onto your plate and people with jugs of wine come and fill your glass. I'll never find it again.
posted by cmoj at 1:43 PM on July 23, 2012

Florence is an oven in August.

Seconding the headquarter in Rome and day trip it route. Tivoli is magic. Ostia Antica is closer than Pompeii, generally less crowded, and even more pleasingly eerie. Bomarzo is strange weird, not far from Viterbo.

Lots of strange and interesting things in Naples if you go that route, but be attentive. It's a tough town.
posted by BWA at 4:28 PM on July 23, 2012

Frascati, Castelgandolfo and the Castelli Romani are perfect for a day trip to escape a bit of the August heat. Calcata is a bit of a pain in the ass to get to without a car, but still doable.
posted by romakimmy at 3:52 AM on July 24, 2012

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