Capri is definitely a dream destination that I had the pleasure visiting and exploring during the warm month of August. In this post, I will share my Capri experience along with the top-recommended places and activities to do there.
The Island of Capri is located in the Gulf of Naples off the southern coast of Italy, just a few miles from Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast. The island is 10.4 square kilometers in land area.
1. Reaching Capri
The only way to reach Capri is by sea. If you are coming from Rome, you need to take a train to Naples and Sorrento (usually takes 1 hour on the fast train) where ferries depart from. During the summer months, there are also ferry routes from Positano, Ischia, and Salerno. For most of the year, vehicles are prohibited from embarking on the island, with the exception of residents and taxis.
The island is divided into two municipalities: Capri and Anacapri. The center of Capri town is about 150 meters above sea level while Anacapri is at a higher altitute. There are also two villages directly on the coast: Marina Grande (where the port is located) and Marina Piccola.
2. Getting around
During my trip, I decided to rent a moped (70 euros for 2 days) which made it easier to reach wherever I wanted. Moreover, there are frequent buses or taxis that you can use in case you decide not to rent a moped. Taxis can cost around 25- 30 euros from Marina Grande to Anacapri.
The bus routes are:
Capri – Anacapri
Capri – Marina Piccola
Capri – San Costanzo (Marina Grande)
Anacapri – Grotta Azzurra (Blue Grotto)
Anacapri – Faro (Lighthouse)
The Blue Grotto (Grotto Azzurra):
It is a sea cave on the coast of the island of Capri. You can swim inside the grotto and discover the magic; the light passing through the underwater cavity creates a charming baby-blue reflection that illuminates the cave.
Above the grotto, their is a cute bar (and the only bar) where you can leave your things and go swimming. Having drinks at this place is recommended as it is lays high on the cliff with a breathtaking view.
Chair lift of Monte Solaro
Monte Solaro is the highest point on Capri.The lift is in Via Caposcuro in Anacapri, near Piazza Vittoria.
On the lift, you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy the splendid views of the Gulf of Naples with Vesuvius , the Gulf of Salerno, and Anacapri in the background.
Villa San Michele
This Villa is the life’s work of the Swedish physician and author Axel Munthe (1857–1949). It is surrounded by an impressive garden, which recently won the prize as Italy’s most beautiful private park. Behind it is the Barbarossa mountain that Axel Munthe turned into a sanctuary for migratory birds.
Villa San Michele houses an important art collection. The majority is of Roman, Etruscan or Egyptian origin, many are sculptures such as the fabled 3200-year-old sphinx.
Gardens of Augustus
If you are looking for a shortcut to enjoy Capri’s views but don’t have time to hike, then the Gardens of Augustus can solve this problem. From there you can spot the famous attractions like the Marina Piccola, Via Krupp and Faraglioni. The gardens are beautifully terraced, romantic and multileveled.
Entrance to the Gardens of Augustus will cost just 1 euro and is open daily from 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. from March till November.
Marina Grande is the first thing you see when you arrive to Capri by sea and is one of the most interconnected areas on the island. This town is a charming one with vast green surroundings and scenic landscapes all around. You can spend time discovering this town by walking around, having some lunch or dinner and enjoying the gorgeous beaches there.
If you are looking for a less busy town and relaxing location, then Marina Piccola is the place to be. You can have a relaxing beach day while sipping drinks at the beach or enjoying a nice cup of coffee from the many cafe’s and restaurants around. Marina Piccola also a offers a great view of Faraglioni and houses the popular Siren’s rock.
The Piazza Umberto is also known as La Piazzetta and is one of the main centers of Capri. This place seems to always be busy in summer and is great for a nice stroll around, shopping, and having drinks.
These are my restaurants suggestions:
L’ Angolo del Gusto
Ristorante e Pizzeria Verginiello
La Rosticceria Capri Pasta
Gelato at Buonocore
Italy is blessed with great food, landscapes, history, architecture and beauty. It also houses a great deal of dreamy island getaways just like Capri. Capri is definitely the place to be if you are looking for a place to have a relaxing and dreamy vacation where you can enjoy a night at a beach-view hotel, delicious sea food, jaw-dropping sceneries, along with a relaxing beach day filled with sunshine and happiness.
*This article was originally written for Travel & Destinations (www.travelanddestinations.com)
Whenever you think about a dreamy and romantic destination, Italy always seems to pop up in the suggestions. This is because Italy is one of the most beautiful places in the world. Not only is Italy beautiful but it is home to the most delicious cuisine, famous art, great culture, trendy fashion, and timeless historical monuments.
Italy is visited by millions of tourists every year and is one of the most visited countries in the world. The Bank of Italy estimated that tourism in Italy produces directly more than 5% of the GDP (Italian link). Moreover, Italy encompasses 55 World Heritage Sites making it higher than any other country in the world. If you are planning to visit Italy soon, make sure to visit these amazing cities below. Here are some of the beautiful cities to visit in Italy.
Rome is a city that everyone should visit once in their lifetime. This city is in itself a museum; walking around Rome is enough to take you back in time and give you this great overwhelming feeling. In Rome, you will casually see the huge Colosseum, the Vatican, the Pantheon, and the Roman forum, just by taking a stroll. Most of the famous landmarks are close to each other where you can discover each one on foot or by taking a tram.
While in Rome, visit some of the famous squares such as Piazza del Popolo, Piazza Navona, St.Peter’s Square, and Piazza di Spagna (Spanish steps). Also be sure to visit the pretty Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Piazza Navona fountain), Arch of Constantine (near the Colosseum), Altar of the Fatherland (Piazza Venezia), Castle Saint Angelo and the Palatine Hill.
Rome has over 900 churches, with a few of the most remarkable ones including Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, San Giovanni in Laterano, Pantheon and St. Peter’s Basilica. Do not forget to finish your day with a delicious Italian dinner and gelato anywhere in the city.
In Matera, it is all about caves; you can eat, sleep, shower, and drink in a cave. This place is extremely beautiful and has incredibly unique landscapes that makes it a special destination in Italy or even in the world. The history of Matera is crazy because this place was thought of in the past as the place of poverty, diseases where its people resided in these caves without sources of water, or electricity. Matera is a source of pride for Italy as it is now an UNESCO World Heritage Site that attracts a great number of tourists each year.
The first thing to do in Matera is to discover it on foot and enjoy its unique and mesmerizing structures and hidden alleys where houses and churches are carved in stone and located in caves. Some of the historical things to see are the Palombaro Lungo, Duomo of Matera, Santa Maria de Idris Church, and Madonna delle Virtù. Make sure to check out the amazing Casa Grotta di Vico Solitario (cave house) and the Matera Museum of Contemporary Sculpture.
Matera is also known for its great hike to Parco della Murgia. The hike is very scenic and adventurous as you have to cross bridges and climb up some rocks. The view at the top is priceless; luscious greenery and mouth-dropping bird’s eye view of Matera.
Palermo is the capital of the island of Sicily and was known as the “Kingdom of the Sun”. Sicily is actually the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Palermo is a warm and gorgeous island surrounded by a green mountain range. In Palermo, you can have a fantastic beach experience (Mondello Beach) where you can enjoy several water activities like Parasailing. Also, make sure to check the churches and chapels of Palermo, such as Palermo Cathedral, Capella Palatina, Martorana (Cathedral of St. Mary of the Admiral) and San Giovanni degli Eremiti.
The largest Opera House in Italy is actually located in Palermo and is known as Teatro Massimo. Sicily is also known for its delicious and cheap fresh food and markets; so, while there make sure to visit the markets of Ballaro, Cap and Vucciria which are located in the centre. Other things to look out for are the Palermo Archaeological Museum, Fontana Pretoria and the Capuchin Abbey and Catacombs.
Florence is the capital of the Tuscany region and is known to be home to several famous masterpieces of Renaissance art and architecture. When in Florence, have a walk and check out the following squares: Piazzale Michelangelo, Piazza Santo Spirito, Piazza del Duomo and Piazza della Signoria. Make sure to visit the gorgeous churches and cathedrals such as Florence Cathedral, Basilica of Santa Croce, Baptistery of St. John, Giotto’s Bell Tower, and the church of Santa Maria Novella.
Florence is home to many famous pieces of art and museums. So, do not forget to visit the Da Vinci Museum, Galileo Museum, National Museum of Bargello, Archaeological National Museum, Casa di Dante Museum, and the dreamy Boboli Gardens.
It’s also worth noting a popular Florentine and Tuscan dish to try which is “Pappardelle Al Ragù Di Cinghiale”, a pasta dish with sauce and wild boar meat.
Bergamo is a charming city located northeast of Milan, in the region of Lombardy known for its historic Venetian walls. While in Bergamo, hop on the old funicular to the old town (Citta Alta seen below) and stop to discover the beautiful squares of Piazza Matteotti, Via XX Settembre, and Piazza Vecchia.
Bergamo is known for its beautiful churches and cathedrals so make sure to visit the Basilica of St. Mary Major, Colleoni Chapel, San Michele al Pozzo Bianco, the Baptistery of St. Mary Major and the Cathedral of Sant’Alessandro. Other things to watch out for are the Museo di Scienze Naturali e Archeologico, Rocca Museum and Museo Donizettiano.
From Bergamo, you can enjoy a trip to the famous San Pellegrino Terme (Bergamo Alps), known for the production of the natural San Pellegrino sparkling water.
Catania is also located in Sicily and is an archaic port city on the east coast. Catania is located at the base of Mount Etna which is an active volcano. There are actually guided tours to Etna where you go to the foot of the volcano and discover the area around and end the day with a sunset over the Volcano.
Catania has some amazing squares that you must check out on your walks, including Piazza del Duomo where you can find the city’s symbol: The Elephant’s Fountain, and Piazza dell’Universita where you can find Palazzo dell’Universita and the Palazzo San Giuliano. Behind the elephant fountain, you can find the great Catania Cathedral, dedicated to Saint Agatha.
There is a street (Via Crociferi) in Catania dubbed “the Church Street” since you can find several famous churches along it. Other things to visit include Villa Bellini, Catania Roman Theatre, Ursino Castle, Museum of Contemporary Art of Sicily, and the Catania Museum of Cinema.
When you hear the word Venice, you may immediately think about the gorgeous canals, colourful facades, beautiful architecture, and dreamy gondola rides. Venice is indeed a fairytale place to be as it is a small and compact city that has it all. When in Venice, visit the famous landmarks like San Marco Campanile (the tallest structure in Venice), St. Mark’s Square, Gallerie dell’Accademia, and Doges Palace. Make sure to take a boat or gondola ride along the beautiful Grand Canal and discover Venice from the waters.
Also, visit the town of Murano (island town) where many famous sights like the Basilica of Saint Mary and Saint Donatus, and the Palazzo Da Mula are located. Do not forget to check the churches of St. Mark, Santa Maria Assunta, and Santa Maria della Salute. Also nearby is the picturesque Burano which is just a little bit further than Murano and easily accessible through water taxi or a tour.
Parma is a university-city located in the Emilia-Romagna region, famous for the delicious and vastly used Parmesan cheese and Parma ham. So, if you are all about cheese and ham, Parma is the place to be. You can visit the “Parmigiano Reggiano Factories” and take a tour to uncover the elaborate art behind the Parmesan cheese making. During the tour, you will see how the cheese is made and stored, followed by a cheese and local wine tasting.
Other “un-cheesy” things to do in Parma are several. Visit the Piazza del Duomo where you can find the Parma cathedral, and the Baptistery (1196 by Benedetto Antelami). Other churches to visit are St. John the Evangelist Church, the Shrine of Santa Maria della Steccata, Santa Croce, and the Baroque church of Santissima Annunziata.
A few other highlights include Teatro Farnese, Teatro Regio (Royal Theater), Palazzo della Pilotta, the National Gallery, Parco Ducale (the Ducal Palace), and Castello dei Burattini.
Cagliari is the capital of the beautiful island region of Sardinia. Cagliari is actually called “Casteddu” in Sardinian language, translated to mean castle. Sardinia is a dream destination due to its cyan crystal-clear waters, amazing nature, and great warm weather. While in Cagliari, take a stroll in the historical medieval center including Villanova, Castello, Stampace, and Marina. In the center, you will get to indulge in the beautiful scenes of churches, domes, palaces, and towers.
Later, visit the great churches located in Cagliari; Nostra Signora di Bonaria Basilica, the Santa Maria Cathedral (Cagliari Cathedral) where you can find the crypt which stands as one of the most fascinating places to see in the center. Also, make sure to visit the Roman Amphitheater of Cagliari, the Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Palazzo Viceregio, the Monumental Cemetery of Bonaria, and Palazzo Civico. You can also enjoy a beach day at the Poetto beach followed by a wildlife hike in Parco di Molentargius, which is situated next to the Poetta beach.
Italy is a great place to be in any season or time. It is blessed with everything from beauty, nature, landscapes, history, weather, culture, cuisine, and great architecture; it is a place for everyone. The cities mentioned are wonderful escapes; home to the most delicious food, most famous artists and architects, historic landmarks that stood time, endless beaches, great activities, and gorgeous natural landscapes. These will make any trip a “great vacation”.
*This article was originally written for Travel & Destinations (www.travelanddestinations.com)
Rome is a great place to be for many reasons. Not only is Rome the eternal city with its stunning buildings and monuments, priceless art, and delicious cuisine, but it is also central and close to many of Italy’s other gems.
Below, are 10 of the best day trips to take from Rome, perfect for adding incredible experiences when you are in the eternal city. These places are breathtaking and will surely present you with the authentic “La Dolce Vita” vibe that you are seeking.
1. Amalfi Coast & Positano
The Amalfi Coast is a massive 50 km spread of coastline in the Campania region. If you are driving there, you will get to enjoy some gorgeous scenery of its villas, terraced cliffs, charming gardens, lemon fields, and great beaches. You can also go to the Amalfi coast by taking the train to Salerno which is a beautiful place worth stopping for a few hours to check out.
The Amalfi coast is famous for its massive grapefruit-sized lemons that are the main ingredient for the popular Limoncello drink which you, of course, must try. The best part about the Amalfi coast is that it is home to the photogenic Positano village.
Positano was a former fishing village and is now the go-to romantic holiday destination for its luxurious and scenic hotels, colourful buildings, and delicious restaurants. Discover Positano on foot and witness its beautiful and small art galleries, its cute little shops, restaurants, and the famous Santa Maria church. You can also enjoy The Path of the Gods “Sentiero Degli Dei” hiking/walking trail.
Lago di Turano is beautiful and almost looks unrealistic. It is so gorgeous that it has been used several times as a film location during the filming of “The Patron” movie starring Lucio Dalla. Turano is just 1 hour & 20 minutes away from Rome by car. You can also reach it using a special bus that goes to Rieti.
All you need to do when you arrive is spread a picnic blanket and just enjoy the view of the mountains surrounding the turquoise-coloured lake, all while eating some fresh pizza prepared by the artisanal bakeries nearby. Turano lake is a great location to tan and then cool off with a dip in the beautiful lake. You can also check the delicious restaurants located in Castel Di Tora nearby.
Naples is located in southern Italy and is one of the most unique destinations close to Rome and is also the birthplace of pizza. While in Naples, check Galleria Umberto I, Saint Carlo theatre, Naples Cathedral, Capodimonte royal palace and museum, the National Archaeological Museum, the veiled Christ at Cappella Sansevero, and Castel dell’Ovo.
Later, have a walk along the beautiful Piazza del Plebiscito, and Spaccanapoli (street) which is a Unesco World Heritage Site, and enjoy the traditional pizzerias and pastry shops, the historic monuments, and churches in this gorgeous city.
One of the most famous attractions in Naples is Mount Vesuvius, which is a still-active volcano that destroyed the Roman town of Pompeii (the most famous archaeological excavation site in Italy). Take a train from Naples to see the incredible ruins of Pompeii. Pompeii is approx 17.3 miles (28 km) from Naples and would take you around 30 to 40 minutes to reach.
Sorrento is a city with beautiful sloping terraces decorated with cultivations of oranges, grapevines, lemons, and olives. It is a gorgeous city that overlooks Naples’s bay, the great Vesuvius volcano, and the islands of Ischia, Capri, and Procida can be seen in the far distance.
You can reach Sorrento by using a bus from Rome. Buses depart each day from Roma Tiburtina station. You can also reach Sorrento by taking a train from Naples. You could also explore Sorrento through a tour such as seen below.
While in Sorrento, take a walk along the old town centre and Piazza Tasso where you can find great shops, cute café’s, restaurants, and many bright yellow local limoncello shops. You can also enjoy a great beach day in the unique beach clubs. These are built on decks out into the water.
Capri is definitely a dream destination. The Island of Capri is located just a few miles from Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast. The only way to reach the island of Capri is by sea. If you are coming from Rome, you need to take a train to Naples and Sorrento (usually takes 1 hour on the fast train) where ferries depart from. During the summer months, there are also ferry routes from Positano, Ischia, and Salerno. You can of course also take a tour (see below).
The island is divided into two municipalities: Anacapri and Capri. The centre of Capri town is about 150 meters above sea level while Anacapri is at a higher altitude. There are also two villages directly on the coast: Marina Grande and Marina Piccola.
While in Capri, have a boat tour around the island and discover the quaint Blue Grotto. You can also, go up Mount Solaro with a chairlift to see a breathtaking view from the top. Check out the Sphinx at Villa San Michele, which is a villa built by Axel Munthe, a Swedish physician and writer. This villa has one of the most scenic views of Capri. Later, have a stroll in the centre of Anacapri where you can go shopping for unique clothing and gifts. At night, cool off in the “Piazzetta” with a drink and dinner in the amazing restaurants around.
Florence is Tuscany’s capital and is a dazzling place and also within reach of Rome. You can easily reach Florence by a comfy train ride from Rome which are 162 miles apart. If you want to reach there in less than 2 hours, use the available high-speed trains. Florence is a picturesque place and home to several famous art pieces and architecture from the Renaissance era.
While in Florence, you must check the iconic Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore (Duomo di Firenze), The Uffizi, Galleria dell’Accademia, Giardino Bardini and Piazzale Michelangelo. Have a stroll in Florence’s center and enjoy the central markets and Piazza Santo Spirito where you can find fresh pastas, pizzas, truffle bars, delicious wines, and leather shops.
Bracciano is a small quaint town in Lazio. It is located only 50 minutes away from Rome by car and 1 hour by train. The town is famous for its volcanic lake, Lago di Bracciano, with its black, sparkly and smooth sand. The lake is surrounded by beautiful medieval towns, lush green mountains, and great architecture.
Bracciano also has a famous palace, Castello Orsini-Odescalchi which is known for holding the wedding of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. The lake is besieged by charming aperitif places where you can have drinks with some delicious local food. You can also have a nice lunch or dinner inside the town away from the lake.
Who knew that a 3-euro train ticket from Rome can take you to this little haven called Tivoli? Tivoli is a small town in Lazio located 1 hour and 25 minutes away by train and 40 mins away by car from Rome.
While in Tivoli, make sure to visit the 16th-century Villa d’Este famous for its terraced hillside Italian Renaissance garden and especially for its plethora of fountains. The Villa is now an Italian state museum and is listed as a UNESCO world heritage site. This villa is one of the most beautiful villas you can visit.
Do not forget to check The Temple of Vesta, Villa Gregoriana, Hadrian’s Villa and Rocca Pia. Head to Via delle Cascatelle, a walkway surrounded by the amazing views of waterfalls that cascade in the northern part of Tivoli.
Sperlonga is the perfect getaway since in a way it resembles a little Greece. The vibe is amazing, and the water is crystal clear. Sperlonga was awarded a Blue flag status for high water quality and standards. You can immediately feel that you are far away from the stress of the city.
How to get there? Take the regional train headed to Naples from Roma Termini station and then get off at Fondi-Sperlonga. Once there, take the Piazzoli bus for 20 minutes to Sperlonga (€1.50 bus ticket – note the price may change). While there, enjoy a relaxing beach day with some cold prosecco and then have lunch at the many tasty and fresh seafood restaurants.
Anzio and Nettuno are only 10 minutes apart and are easily reached from Rome’s termini station in 60 to 70 minutes.
How to get there? One train per hour leaves from Termini station, stopping first at Anzio and then at Nettuno. Anzio was also awarded a Blue Flag status for its high-quality waters.
While in Anzio/Nettuno, enjoy a great beach day and then have a stroll in the centre where you can find many local products made fresh daily. You can get a delicious panino (sandwich) with fresh mozzarella di bufala for just 5 euros.
If you are planning to visit Rome over the summer, then these day trips will guarantee you the trip of a lifetime. Rome is not only a great place to be because of its beauty and perfect temperature, but it is also blessed to be close to many of Italy’s “bucket list” destinations and which are crazy beautiful. So, when planning your trip to Rome, you must try and include these day trips on your list!
*This article was originally written for Travel & Destinations (www.travelanddestinations.com)
By the early fourth century ancient Romans developed a road network of 53,000 miles where each Roman mile was about 4,800 feet and marked by a milestone. This gave birth to the saying “All roads lead to Rome”, and all roads must lead you to Rome for your next vacation! Rome is an all-in-one destination; filled with art, history, architecture, beauty, food, and sunshine. This makes Rome an all-year-round destination; it is always a good idea to visit Rome.
I love living in Rome because whenever I walk in its streets, I feel like I am taking a trip back in time; it is called the eternal city for a reason. Rome is a destination you must visit in your lifetime and is a destination that is perfect for your bucket list.
Here are 7 top reasons to visit Rome.
1. The beautiful weather
Rome is blessed with milder winters compared to the rest of Europe. Temperatures dropping below zero is exceedingly rare; the last time it snowed in Rome was February 2018 (at time of writing). This makes Rome a year-round destination, where you can pick any season and just come for a vacation. In summer, Rome is generously warm with beautiful weather and clear skies. Even in winter, Rome is great to visit as it looks gorgeous under the rain but is still warm enough and enjoyable to walk around the city. Another advantage is that in the winter months of December, January, and February the queues at the popular attractions and museums are at their shortest.
If you are looking to avoid the summer crowd and extreme heat, then early Spring or Autumn are great times to visit Rome. For me, September is my favourite time because the weather is still warm, the air is crisp, the tall trees start to turn into a lovely orange and the atmosphere becomes cosy and romantic.
2. The food and aperitivo
Roman (Italian) food is the perfect example of “simplicity is key”. Italian food is prepared with few ingredients but sure makes a cuisine that is full of taste, flavour, and character. Italian cuisine focuses on fresh ingredients from local products which you can taste with every bite. The food is not only delicious but is also affordable where the average cost of food in Rome is €40 per day and the average meal in Rome should cost around €15 per person. This depends of course on your spending and eating habits. Breakfast items are generally a little cheaper than that of lunch or dinner.
Some of the best foods to try include supplì, fiori di zucca, fried baccalà, tagliere di salumi e formaggi, carciofi alla romana/ alla giudia, pizza al taglio, carbonara, cacio e pepe pasta, and trapizzino.
My favourite part of the day is the pre-dinner or Aperitivo (aperitif). The aperitif is an alcoholic or non-alcoholic drink that is usually served with potato chips, nuts, olives, breads, and cheeses, or sometimes it comes in the form of an unlimited buffet. All this can add up to only 5-10 euros depending on the area. In the centre, the aperitivo is generally more expensive than the rest of the areas. The aperitif usually starts around 6.30 pm and lasts till 8 pm (prior to covid restrictions).You may also like:Delicious Food and Drinks to Try in Italy
3. The fresh desserts and pastries
Breakfast in Italy is usually a cappuccino and a pastry, which tends to vary by region. In Rome, delicious croissants (Cornetto) filled with Nutella or jam or even served plain are enjoyed alongside a cappuccino or regular coffee. I love to dip my cornetto in a warm cup of coffee; the taste is irresistible.
Some of the desserts you can find in Rome are the Maritozzo which is a sweet bread roll filled with whipped cream typical of the Lazio region where Rome is.
Other desserts are of course a good homemade gelato served all year long and found in almost every corner! You can always enjoy a gelato walking around on your sightseeing day. Other compelling desserts you can find in roman pastry and dessert shops include ricotta cannoli, tiramisu (which literally means pick me up), pastiera Napoletana, biscottis, and crostata ricotta e visciole.
4. The art,culture,architecture,and history (the trip back in time)
Modern Rome has hundreds of fountains and more than 900 churches which makes the roman culture one of the richest cultural heritages in the world. Rome is the birthplace of one of the most important ancient civilizations and boasts a huge collection of artwork, galleries, museums, old villas, and palaces. Rome’s role in history has been so vital that UNESCO included its city centre in the World Heritage List. In its centre, you can find the well-kept ruins that date back to the Roman Empire, including the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, and the Palatine Hill.
Rome is a piece of art by itself; you can see famous pieces of art (for free) in churches, on the streets and in the buildings. For example, the church of Santa Maria del Popolo is a remarkable site in Rome where it harbours a treasure trove of Baroque and Renaissance art. Not only does it have sculptures by Bernini, but also paintings and frescos by Caravaggio and Raphael. Another good example is the Contarelli Chapel in the Church of St. Louis of the French (San Luigi dei Francesi) and the Basilica Papale di San Pietro.
San Luigi dei Francesi is a small church that inside has the astonishing Contarelli Chapel. This chapel has an in-situ triptych about the life of St. Matthew by the Baroque master, Caravaggio. Moreover, walking down the streets of the Vatican, you can of course notice the Basilica Papale di San Pietro which is the most famous work of Renaissance architecture and one of the largest churches in the world. It was designed by Michelangelo, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Donato Bramante, and Carlo Maderno.
One amazing fact about Rome is that it is home to huge parks that still have ancient ruins. A park that I cherish most is the Parco degli Acquedotti which exhibits the extraordinary aqueducts that still stand there to this day.
5. Its size
Despite Rome being one of the most popular cities in the world, it is not overly big. It is small enough that you can see most of its tourist attractions on foot in a day or two. For example, the popular Colosseum is 2 minutes away by foot from the Roman Forum, 6 minutes away from the Palatine Hill, 12 mins away from the Capitoline Museums and Piazza Venezia, and 25 mins away from the Pantheon and Piazza Navona. Rome is also blessed with its connectedness as there are many timely metros and trains that can take you anywhere you want to go for a small price.
6. It’s fairly close to the beach
Rome is very central and close to many of Italy’s beautiful seacoasts and beaches. If you are in Rome during beach weather and would like to take a break from the crowd of the city, you can easily do a day trip to a beach, 1 to 2 hours away by train or car.
Some of my favorite beaches are Anzio, Santa Marinella, Santa Severa, Sperlonga, Fregence and Ostia Lido (30 mins away by metro). You can enjoy a day sitting at the many public and free beaches and then have lunch/dinner at the various restaurants and enjoy a sea view. Fried calamari and Spaghetti alle Vongole are my favourite summer dishes to eat along with a cold artisanal beer or a delicious Aperol Spritz cocktail.
7. It’s close to beautiful lakes
Not only is Rome close to charming beaches but it is also close to some gorgeous lakes. I always appreciate the lakes around Rome due to the lavish-green mountains and the quaint medieval towns surrounding them.
If you feel like surviving a hot day in Rome and having a dip in refreshing waters, consider heading to these lakes that are between 1 to 2 hours away from Rome: Lago di Turano (seen below), Lago di Bracciano, Lago Albano, Lago di Nemi, and Lago di Bolsena.
(Summary): Are you convinced?
Rome has it all, and if you have a solid plan you will get to enjoy all of these: art, architecture, culture, history, food, wine, endless gelato supply, beaches, lakes, charming towns, huge parks, museums, and some sunshine. Also, the good thing about Rome is that you can eat pizza and pasta with no guilt as you will be burning it while walking around the beautiful city!
I hope I have convinced you to start making a plan to head to Rome soon. I can list 100 reasons on why you should visit Rome but instead here are just 7 that are pretty convincing! Go ahead and give it a shot, you will thank me later!
*This article was originally written for travelmagazine.co(www.travelmagazine.co)
Rome is obviously a terrific place to be! Not only is Rome the eternal city with its breathtaking buildings and monuments, marvelous art, and legendary cuisine, but it is also central and close to many of Italy’s traveler gems.
Below I will present 5 unique and charming places that are less than 2 hours away from Rome. These sites are less touristy than the rest of the recommended places and so you will get the chance to have the authentic and local Italian experience!
Spoleto is a “hidden-gem” in Umbria, Italy surrounded by vast green hills and rich vineyards. It is 1.40 hours away from Rome. Walking around Spoleto’s narrow streets and enjoying its landscapes is enough to make you feel you are back in the Medieval Era. When in Spoleto, make sure to check the town’s popular attractions: Duomo di Spoleto (Spoleto Cathedral), Ponte delle Torri, Rocca Albornoziana (Castle of Spoleto), Teatro Romano di Spoleto, and Basilica of Sant’Eufemia.
If you have time, catch a movie at Sala Pegasus; a movie theatre/exhibit that was formerly the church of San Lorenzo. After, head to Piazza del Mercato and enjoy a great stroll around the piazza with a warm cup of coffee or a glass of wine.
2. Calcata Vecchia
Calcata is just 50 minutes away from Rome and is known as the town of witches. It is best recognized for being the home to a community of about 100 artists, bohemians, and aging hippies who started living in its abandoned houses and caves to live far from civilization and technology. The New York Times described it as what “may be the grooviest village in Italy”.
Calcata’s medieval architecture is well visible on the churches and the civic buildings. So, make sure to walk around and discover the artistic and vibrant houses surrounding this town. Also, check the Treja Valley Regional Park which lies in the surroundings of Calcata. The park is a protected natural area in Lazio, established by the regional law in 1982 and makes a great place for hiking and horse-riding.
Sperlonga is the perfect summer getaway since in a way it looks like a little Greece. It is around 1.50 hours away from Rome. The waters are crystal clear, and the vibe is amazing. You can instantly feel that you are far from Rome and away from the stress of the city.
When you arrive, start your day on a public beach and enjoy the amazing sunshine and sceneries. Later, head to the many local restaurants and enjoy a delicious and fresh “spaghetti alle vongole” with a sea view.
Who knew that a 3 euro train ticket from Rome can take you to this little haven called Tivoli. Tivoli is a small town in Lazio(1.25 hours by train and 40 mins away by car from Rome).
Make sure to visit Villa d’Este, a 16th-century villa in Tivoli famous for its terraced hillside Italian Renaissance garden and especially for its profusion of fountains. It is now an Italian state museum and is listed as a UNESCO world heritage site. This villa is one of the most beautiful villas I have visited yet.
Later, head to Via delle Cascatelle, a walkway surrounded by the amazing views of waterfalls that cascade in the northern part of Tivoli. Do not forget to check The Temple of Vesta, Villa Gregoriana, and Rocca Pia.
Bracciano is a small town in Lazio, only 50 minutes away from Rome. The town is famed for its volcanic lake, Lago di Bracciano. The lake is surrounded by beautiful medieval towns, lush green mountains and architecture.
The medieval Castello Orsini-Odescalchi palace in Bracciano is famous for hosting the wedding of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. The lake is surrounded by cute aperitif places where you can have a drink with some delicious local food. You can also enjoy a lovely lunch or dinner inside the town away from the lake.
Brunch is my favorite meal! Why? Food options are literally doubled, you can sleep in, plus brunch gives you a totally acceptable way to have an early mimosa!
I have picked these 6 brunch restaurants located in Rome that will surely make any kind of weekend special:
1. Necci dal 1924
Location: Via Fanfulla da Lodi, 68, 00176 Roma RM (Pigneto)
When? Saturday and Sunday from 11:00 to 15:30
Necci is an oasis of calm where you can take refuge for a good meal. In the garden, under the morning sunshine, you can savor the goodness of brunch which includes a delicious chickpea croquette with Tzatziki sauce, rosemary zucchini pancakes, mini chicken burgers, bruschetta with tomato and basil and much more!
2. Punch Roma
Location: Via Alberto da Giussano, 69, 00176 Roma RM (Pigneto)
When? Saturday and Sunday from 10.30 to 15.30
“Punch is not dead” is the representation of the motto and the spirit of this amazing place. If you want to brunch in rock and roll style, then this place is for you! Punch offers delicious cocktails, craft beers or wine and a must-try Brit-Pop Brunch which includes an English breakfast complete with bacon, scrambled eggs, pancakes, and delicious home-made pies that are to die for. Outdoor seating available.
3. Blind Pig Roma
Location: Via la Spezia, 72, 00182 Roma RM (San Giovanni)
When? Saturday and Sunday from 12:30 to 18:00
This place offers a hip and relaxed atmosphere. The “Big Brunch of the Blind Pig” delights guests with dishes inspired by English, American and Mexican cuisine. You can choose between 3 savory Brunch options: Heavy Brunch , Soft brunch, and Vegetarian Brunch. The food includes club sandwiches, mixed salads, croutons with fried eggs and bagels stuffed with marinated salmon, American coffee and a wide selection of craft beers. Make sure to try the soft pancakes filled with jam, maple syrup or other spreads.
Location: Via Ostiense, 68, 00154 Roma RM (Ostiense)
When? Saturday and Sunday from 12.30 to 15.30
Close to the Garbatella metro station lies a lively & refined restaurant that serves a delicious brunch combining the Italian and Mediterranean flavors with the American classics. The brunch includes anything from pizza to pastries, coffee, cocktails and freshly homemade juices. The place has outdoors seating in a gorgeous area perfect for a brunch under some sunshine!
5. Marigold Roma
Location: Via Giovanni da Empoli, 37, 00154 Roma RM (Ostiense)
When? Saturday and Sunday from 9:00 to 15:00
In the Ostiense area, Marigold stands out as a bakery with a welcoming and essential restaurant, in perfect English style. This cozy place offers fresh fruit with yogurt and granola, sandwiches of the day and then of course a vast assortment of eggs: soft-boiled with homemade rye bread, fried with sage, or in an omelette version with cheese. The desserts include brownies, carrot cake and buttermilk pancakes with maple syrup…
6. Porto Fluviale:
Location: Via del Porto Fluviale, 22, 00154 Roma RM (Aventino)
When: Saturday and Sunday from 12.30 to 16:00
Porto Fluviale offers an amazing atmosphere and a great international brunch, with the American breakfast corner, consisting of scrambled eggs, bacon, French toast and juices. It ends on a sweet note with some traditional Anglo-Saxon cakes and creams. For children, a table is set up with their favorite dishes and professional entertainment.
Visiting Rome on a budget but eager to have a cultural and artistic experience? Then this article is for you!
In Rome, there exists 8 city-run museums that are totally free and open all year round:
1. Villa di Massenzio (Maxentius)
The Villa of Maxentius is an imperial villa and now an open air museum in Rome. It was built by the Roman emperor Maxentius and is located between the second and third miles of the ancient Appian Way (Via Appia). It consists of three main buildings: the palace, the circus of Maxentius and the mausoleum, designed in an inseparable architectural unit to honor Maxentius.
Address: Via Appia Antica, 153, 00178 Roma RM
2. Museo Barracco
Museo Barracco is a museum in Rome, featuring a collection of Egyptian, Assyrian, and Phoenician art, as well as Greek sculptures of the classical period. This collection of art was acquired by Giovanni Barracco, who donated his collection to the City of Rome in 1902.
Address: Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, 168, 00186 Roma RM
3. Museo delle Mura
The Museo delle Mura is an archaeological museum in Rome which is housed in the first and second floors of the Porta San Sebastiano at the beginning of the Appian Way. It provides an exhibition on the walls of Rome along with their building techniques and the opportunity to walk along the inside of one of the best-preserved stretches of the Aurelian Wall.
Address: Via di Porta San Sebastiano, 18, 00179 Roma RM
4. Museo Pietro Canonica
The Pietro Canonica Museum is the house/museum of the sculptor Pietro Canonica and is part of the system of Museums in the Municipality of Rome. It is located in the gorgeous Villa Borghese. The house, where the artist lived until his death, was donated by him to the municipality of Rome which now manages the museum.
Address: Viale Pietro Canonica, 2, 00197 Roma RM
5. Museo Napoleonico
The Napoleonic Museum of Rome is a historical museum dedicated to Napoleonic relics, mainly deriving from the collection of Count Giuseppe Primoli, donated to the city of Rome in 1927. It features family portraits, marble busts, rare artwork & gold plated furniture.
Address: Piazza di Ponte Umberto I, 1, 00186 Roma RM
6. Museo Carlo Bilotti
The Carlo Bilotti Museum is a contemporary art museum located in the “Orangery” of Villa Borghese in Rome. It contains paintings, watercolors and sculptures from the collection donated by Carlo Bilotti, an Italian-American businessman and collector. The collection includes works by Andy Warhol, Giorgio De Chirico, paintings by Gino Severini, and Larry Rivers and a sculpture by Giacomo Manzù.
Address: Viale Fiorello La Guardia, 6, 00197 Roma RM
7. Museo di Casal de’ Pazzi
The Casal de’ Pazzi Museum is important for its archaeological, geological and paleontological value and has been transformed over time into a real museum. It is located in Rome, in the IV Municipio, between via Tiburtina and via Nomentana, not far from the Aniene river. The museum structure is part of a Pleistocene deposit and has been continuously open to the public since March 2015.
Address: Via Egidio Galbani, 6, 00156 Roma RM
8. Museo della Repubblica Romana e della memoria garibaldina
The Museum of the Roman Republic and of Garibaldi’s memory is part of the Joint Museums and is located off Porta San Pancrazio in the Trastevere district of Rome.
The exhibition winds along the four floors of the building, narrating, room by room, the historical events of the Roman Republic and the Garibaldi tradition. Busts, paintings, engravings and Garibaldi relics, as well as models and a very rich multimedia apparatus, guide the visitor to discover the places, the days and the main protagonists of the events of those years of great political ferment.
Address: Largo di Porta S. Pancrazio, 00153 Roma RM
Let me know in the comments if you visited any of these museums!
When there is a lockdown and everything is closed, we usually tend to reside to movies to make us feel something different. I usually love to watch thriller & investigative crime movies while other times I love watching films about adventure, love and travel.
I currently live in Rome; weirdly enough, I still try to find movies shot in Italy or I’ll re-watch some older movies. Italy is a place with endless dreamy locations to film in and so watching movies shot in Italy will never be boring. Instead, it will always get you excited about planning a trip once the lockdown is over! Not all of these movies are masterpieces but, in some way, each of them beautifully showcases Italian landscape, society or culture.
Below I will be mentioning some good & enjoyable movies shot in Italy:
1. The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)
This movie is definitely one of my favorite “keep-you-on-the-edge-of-your-seat ” kind of film. The Talented Mr. Ripley was shot in and around Positano and some locations in Rome and Venice.
It is an American psychological thriller film written and directed by Anthony Minghella and based on Patricia Highsmith’s 1955 novel . The movie stars Matt Damon as Tom Ripley, Jude Law as Dickie Greenleaf and has received five Academy Award nominations, including Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor for Law.
The movie is about the charismatic but very psychopathic Tom Ripley who gets sent to Italy to bring back Dickie Greenleaf (Jude Law), a spoilt millionaire. However, events take a sinister turn and a murder occurs.
2. Love Wedding Repeat (2020)
If you like cringe-inducing humor, this movie is for you. The movie takes place, in large part, at Villa Parisi in Frascati, Italy.
Love Wedding Repeat is a romantic comedy film directed by Dean Craig and is a remake of the 2012 French romantic comedy film Plan de Table. The film stars Sam Claflin, Olivia Munn and Eleanor Tomlinson.
The movie is about Hayley’s marriage (wedding day) to Roberto, a wealthy Italian man. The wedding gives Hayley’s older brother, Jack, the chance to reconnect with his old crush, a journalist named Dina. However, Hayley’s ex shows unexpectedly which leads us to seeing the multiple scenarios of how people are trying to handle that situation.
3. Call Me By Your Name (2017)
This movie will make you never look at peaches the same again. The movie was shot in Lombardy, mainly in the town of Crema, an hour from Milan.
Call Me by Your Name is a coming-of-age romantic drama film directed by Luca Guadagnino and starring Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet.
The movie talks about Elio (Timothée Chalamet) who is staying in his family’s 17th-century villa and Oliver (Armie Hammer), a 24-year-old graduate student whom Elio’s father, a professor of archaeology, invites over for the summer. What follows is a sensual tale of first love between Elio and Oliver in the beautiful Lombardy!
4. The Rite (2011)
Horror/Thriller (based on real events)
This horror movie was filmed in Budapest and Rome. It is a supernatural horror film directed by Mikael Håfström and written by Michael Petroni.
The movie was based on Matt Baglio’s book The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist; which is based on supposedly real events as witnessedand recounted by an American then-exorcist-in-training, Father Gary Thomas, and his experiences of being sent to Rome to be trained and work daily with veteran clergy of the practice. The film stars Anthony Hopkins and Colin O’Donoghue.
The movie talks about a seminary student Michael Kovak (Colin O’Donoghue) who finds that he must attend a Vatican school of exorcism while believing possession to be the work of a troubled mind rather than actual demons. Then, Michael becomes the apprentice of Father Lucas (Anthony Hopkins), a veteran exorcist, and encounters a terrifying force that causes him to question everything he believes.
5. Under The Tuscan Sun (2003)
Under The Tuscan Sun was filmed in multiple locations in Italy, including Cortona, Florence, Montepulciano, Positano and Rome. This American romantic comedy-drama (starring Diane Lane) is written, produced, and directed by Audrey Wells and is based on Frances Mayes’ 1996 memoir of the same name.
The movie is about an American author, Frances Mayes, who escapes to Tuscany when she discovers her husband has been cheating on her. Falling in love with Cortona, she buys a dilapidated villa and starts to rebuild it, hoping it will lead to a change in her life.
6. Eat Pray Love (2010)
If you are into Italian food porn and good vibes, this movie is a great choice! Eat Pray Love, starring Julia Roberts, was shot on location in Rome and Naples. This film is an American biographical romantic drama film based on Elizabeth Gilbert’s 2006 memoir of the same name. Ryan Murphy co-wrote and directed the film.
Liz Gilbert (Julia Roberts) thought she had everything she wanted in life: a home, a husband and a successful career. But after her divorce, she hits a turning point and finds out that she is confused about what is important to her. Daring to step out of her comfort zone, Liz embarks on a quest of self-discovery that takes her to Italy, India and Bali.
Bonus movie to watch:
The Lizzie McGuire Movie (2003)
A trip down memory lane and childhood memories, perfectly describes this movie! The film was shot in Rome, Italy in the fall of 2002. The Lizzie McGuire Movie is an American teen comedy film directed by Jim Fall starring Hilary Duff and Adam Lamberg.
The film talks about Lizzie McGuire, who while on a holiday in Rome, is mistaken to be a pop star named Isabella. However, when the time comes, she must choose between her new glamorous lifestyle and returning home.
According to an ancient legend, on days and nights when there is strong winds, in the narrow alleys of Calcata, it is possible to hear the singing of the old witches. Not only that: it is also said that this ancient village was in the past a place of ceremonial & ritual magic.
Calcata is best known for it being the home to a community of about 100 artists, bohemians, & aging hippies who started living in its abandoned houses and caves to live far from civilization and technology. The New York Times described it as what “may be the grooviest village in Italy”.
It is hard to believe that Calcata is only a few minutes drive from Rome:
Calcata (locally Cargata) is a village hanging onto a volcanic cliff in the province of Viterbo (region of Lazio), located 47 kilometres (29 mi) north of Rome, overlooking the valley of Treja river. Its history dates back to almost 3,000 years where the presence of human life in the area can go back to prehistoric times.
In the 1930s, the town was condemned by the government for the fear that the volcanic cliffs, the ancient town was built upon, would collapse. Then, in the 1960s, the artists and hippies saved the day and repopulated Calcata by purchasing the houses and restoring the ancient town. This lead the government to reverse its condemnation order.
How To Spend Your Day In Calcata?
1. Discover every nook and cranny
Calcata’s medieval architecture is well visible on the churches and the civic buildings. Walk around to discover the artistic and colorful houses surrounding this town. Calcata is a place where time has definitely stood still!
2. Buy some homemade products
Calcata has a lot of little shops that sell homemade jams and chocolate spreads (they also do food tastings)! Make sure to check the bakeries and try their sugar/butter biscuits and desserts.
Also, this town is known for being a “Halloween attraction” and so you can find handmade masks stands that are to die for!
3. Lunch at my favorite: La Terrazza Sul Treja
This restaurant serves great traditional Italian cuisine with the most amazing view of the village! The portions were generous and the dishes extremely tasty.
Start your lunch by ordering the “tagliere di salumi e formaggi” with a local bottle of red wine! The Pappardelle al cinghiale seen in the picture below is recommended.
The Treja Valley Regional Park lies in the surroundings of Calcata. The park is a protected natural area in Lazio, established by the regional law in 1982 and makes a great place for hiking & horse-riding.
Spoleto is a “hidden-gem” in Umbria, Italy surrounded by vast green hills & rich vineyards. Spoleto became a Roman colony in 241 BC and has successfully repulsed an attack by the Carthaginian general, Hannibal, in 217 BC . It later became important because of its strategic location on the Roman artery Via Flaminia and its great role in the Gothic wars.
Walking around Spoleto’s narrow streets and enjoying its landscapes is enough to make you feel you are back in the Medieval Era.
Below are the top sights and activities to check when visiting Spoleto:
1. Duomo di Spoleto (Spoleto Cathedral )
The church is an example of Romanesque architecture and was built from the second half of the 12th century after the city had been devastated by Frederick Barbarossa‘s army.
The most striking feature is this Byzantine-hieratic mosaic portraying Christ giving a Benediction by Doctor Solsternus (1207). The latter kept calling himself an outstanding modern artist with nothing else known about him and this being his only known work. It would take half a century before the mosaics in Roman churches would surpass his style.
2. Ponte delle Torri
Ponte delle Torri (Bridge of Towers) stands on 10 pillars built on the foundations of a Roman aqueduct at a height of 262 feet (80 meters) and offers a splendid panoramic view of the city.
3. Rocca Albornoziana (Castle of Spoleto)
After checking the Ponte, head to Rocca Albornoziana which is a fortress that stands on Colle Sant’Elia, towering over the vast Spoleto valley. Its construction started in 1359 and it belongs to a series of fortresses whose construction was ordered by Pope Innocent VI to re-affirm the Pope’s authority in central Italy.
4. Lunch Essentials
After the long walk up to Ponte delle Torri & Rocca Albornoziana, a lunch is a must. Enjoy a home-cooked meal at “Trattoria Del Festival” located in the center (Via Brignone, 8, 06049 Spoleto PG, Italy).
5. Teatro/Museo Romano di Spoleto
Teatro Romano (Roman Theater) located inside the monumental complex of Sant’Agata, is a theatrical building dating back to the 1st century BC. The theatre was damaged by a landslide caused by an earthquake and got restored in the ancient times.
The monastery of Sant’Agata now houses the National Archaeological Museum of Spoleto and the theater is used for concerts and shows.
6. Basilica of Sant’Eufemia
Sant’Eufemia is a Romanesque-style, Roman Catholic basilica church. The church is dedicated to Saint Euphemia of Chalcedon. It is a great place to take some artistic pictures.
7. Catch a movie at Sala Pegasus
This movie theatre/exhibit was the former church of San Lorenzo, currently called Sala Pegasus. In 1972, some restorations made it possible to transform it into how it looks today!
It was dedicated to Saint Lawrence, a Syrian monk, bishop and local martyr who died in 576. Saint Lawrence is said to be the “illuminator” for the miracles related to healings from blindness.
8. Have a walk & grab a coffee at Vincenzo Art Cafè
Enjoy the end of the tour with a warm cup of coffee or tea. The art café looks great on the inside and has delicious sandwiches and snacks you can grab.
Then head to Piazza del Mercato and enjoy a great stroll around the piazza!