If you are in Rome and want to escape the crowded city and the river of people, some unexpected ideas for a day trip in Lazio are right at your fingertips.
I know, you are a little confused, but don’t worry, we are not talking about the soccer team! Lazio is the region where Rome, Frosinone, Latina, Rieti, and Viterbo are located. But Lazio is also home to many other lovely small towns worth taking a look at. So if you are searching for a day off outside the big city you do not need to go too far. Lazio is a region full of history and natural sites, so why not to take a look at it and visit something different?
St. Benedetto Monastery
Not too far from Rome you can find this ad memoriam monument, built at the beginning of the XI century. The monastery was built to remember the hermitage life of St. Benedetto, who lived in a cavern for 3 years. The monastery is erected on Taleo mountain, completely glued to the rock barrier. It was called the “swallow’s nest” by Pope Pio II Piccolomini in 1461 as a result of its unique position. Today the monastery has 2 churches and several chapels, and it is cover in precious frescoes from different eras. In this sanctuary you can find the first and only paint of St. Francis, painted during his stay in the monastery before he became a saint. Equally astonishing is the invaluable statue representing St. Benedetto himself.
The first human establishment in this area is dated back to the Paleolithic era around 90.000 - 30.000 years ago. Many of the remains that have been unearthed can now be visited in Rome in the National Etruscan Museum in Villa Giulia. Unfortunately, it is not clear what happened to this city during the Roman time, but legend has it that in 410 AD, when Rome was under attack from the Visigoths, many people sought shelter in Vignanello.
In Vignanello you can also visit the Ruspoli Castle and its Italian Renaissance garden (one of the best preserved of all the Italian peninsula)! The castle is a XVI century castle, and it is still owned by the Ruspoli family, an old, noble Italian family who had very close connections to the Holy See. The castle is a private residence, but is open for events and visits. Why not take advantage of this glimpse into private luxury living- find out how great living in a castle with an immense secret garden would be!
Antuni is perhaps the most mysterious place on our list. In fact, it is also known as the “Lost City” or “Ghost City”. Situated on the Turano lake and linked to the solid land by just an isthmus, the city is completely uninhabited. Despite this Antuni is fully restored and from it you will be able to enjoy one of the best panoramas of the Lazio region.
The city dates back to the XII century and has never been a center of major events. Its life ended abruptly during WWII, when in 1944 a pilot released a bomb over the city, mistaking it for the bridge on Turano lake. One of the most interesting buildings to visit is the Palazzo del Drago (Dragon Palace), fully restored and composed of a huge number of rooms all decorated with frescos, full of stone steps and with 365 windows. This palace is definitely a must see location!
Named this way for the thermal baths near by, Bagnoregio is an Etruscan city, and if you wish to visit it, you better hurry up, as the city is known as the “Dying City”. Mostly famous for its peculiar location, situated on a spur of tuff, it is possible to enter the city only on foot. Bagnoregio is perched on the top of a hill and is a surrounded by a city wall. Its Ducal Palace and parish church are two of the strangest places you will ever have the pleasure to visit.
Two of Italy’s most weird museums can also be found in this little town. The Piero Taruffi Museum, named after the Italian architect and pilot, and the UFO Museum, the first in Italy of its kind.
The town is also well known for its long history events, and if you visit it don’t miss the ceramic art work of master artisans. It will be the perfect keepsake to take home with you! Let's discover our day trip in Bagnoregio.
Isola di Liri
The Island of Liri is located near Frosinone, and it is an actual island developt on the river of Liri, and the edges of the island form two waterfalls, incredible during the day and enchanted under the moonlight. The highest waterfall is 27 meter high, and is one of the few waterfalls in the historic center of a town.
The town has also a long history. The Isola di Liri is known from the Roman time, fallen under the Byzantine and the Langobardic populations, at the end of the XIV century the city was donated to the Cantelmo family, one of the noble historical Italian families. Thank to its rich history it is easy to visit several buildings dated from the Middle Age to the recent times.
The Liri Island and its waterfall are amazing, but you might decide to visit more that one city, so let's find out what else to see.
Ancient city of Ninfa
This is an ancient city in which you will feel as though you have jumped into the pages of a Sleeping Beauty fairy tale. Much more like a huge natural park than a real city, this is full of ruins, half immersed in swamp and ivy. The city was full of life during the Roman Empire, and was conquered and surrendered several times in that period. Only in 1921 Gelasio Caetani started to reclaim the land and began to restore some of the ruins, especially the tower and the town hall, and planted several types of plants.
In 2000 the area was declared a naturalistic monument and the garden has been considered by “The New York Times” the most beautiful in the world. Honestly there are no words to describe it, so your only option if you want to appreciate the beauty of the Gardens of Ninfa, is to visit them.
I hope the descriptions of these hidden gems has awoken your travel bug and convinced you that there is much more to see in Lazio than just the Eternal City. So, if you don’t know what to do, or you have already visited Rome many times and are looking to see something new, you can decide to follow an original path and discover the treasures this underrated region can offer you beyond Rome itself.