Cradle of the occidental Christian culture, lakes and legends, thermal baths and history, ancient roads and green hills. This is Lazio, a region in central Italy, washed by the Tyrrhenian Sea, crossed by the Tiber River. The region consists mainly of hilly land that slopes gently towards the sea.
The region offers contrasting landscapes, which, however, complement each other well. Visitors can enjoy unforgettable views of the Italian capital, Rome.
Lazio is also a thermal region. The healing effects of the many thermal springs were already known in the times of the Roman Republic.
Tivoli is such an ancient spa town, but its name is mainly associated with the rich art treasures. Tivoli acquired its fame mainly through the great villas such as Villa d’Este with its beautiful fountains and gardens and Hadrian’s Villa, the former residence of Emperor Hadrian.
For those who prefer the sea, the region offers real treats such as Gaeta, Sperlonga and the island of Ponza. For lake lovers, there is Lake Bracciano, a charming inland body of water surrounded by lush nature, on the shores of which stands the 16th century castle.
All those who visit this land are left with memories of unique places and intense emotions, but also with a clear awareness of the inexorable passage of time and the efforts of all those who came before us to leave something for those who come after.
If you want to experience more than beaches in Italy, Viterbo is the place to be. The central Italian city of Viterbo is nestled in a picturesque nature and rich in sights.
The city of Viterbo, with 64,000 inhabitants, is the administrative seat of the province of the same name and is located in Lazio, north of the capital Rome. Settled at the foot of the Monti Cimini, Viterbo was already inhabited at the time of the Etruscans. Because in the 13th century a total of eight popes resided in today’s Episcopal Palace, Viterbo proudly bears the nickname “City of the Popes”.
The historic city center is considered the best preserved old town in central Italy. Even today, numerous palaces shine in their old splendor. These include the Palazzo dei Papi (Papal Palace), the Palazzo di Priori, the Palazzo Comunale and the Palazzo della Prefettura. The tower of the Gothic Cathedral of San Lorenzo dates back to the 14th century, and the rest of the sacred building was renovated after severe bomb damage during World War II.
The Franciscan church of San Francesco is famous for the famous papal tombs of Hadrian V and Clement IV. Since 2004, the necropolis of Tarquina has been a World Heritage Site. About 6,000 tombs were carved in stone here and decorated with elaborate paintings.
Ninfa, a highly suggestive town on the slopes of the Monti Lepini in the Lazio region, is about an hour’s drive (60 km) south of Rome. It is a once important town on the road from Naples to Rome, with about 2000 inhabitants, whose origins date back to the first millennium.
During its heyday Ninfa had numerous houses. More than 150 alone were equipped with attic and barn. There were about 14 churches, roads, mills, bridges, two hospitals, a castle and a town hall. The city was protected by a wall about 1,400 meters long with at least eleven towers.
Plagues and destruction led to the abandonment of the city in the late Middle Ages. Since then, the buildings decayed and the city became a ruined town. The ruins of the fort, the city wall, the town hall, and numerous churches and houses were once described by a 19th century writer as a “fairy-tale ruin of a city” and a “pompei of the Middle Ages””. “This delightful nympha” – wrote the poet – “is the most charming fairy tale of history and nature I have ever seen in the world.”
In the 1920s the ruins, overgrown with numerous plants, were transformed into an English landscape garden by the owners, the ancient Roman noble family of the Caetani. This is now one of the most beautiful gardens in Italy.
Ariccia was the ancient capital of the Latins and was transformed in later times by the Baroque genius Bernini; today the place is also famous for a gastronomic delicacy that is unique in the whole world.
The town, located on the Via Appia, between the lakes of Nemi and Albano, is reached by a monumental bridge, one of the most important works of engineering of the XIX century.
The present town has developed around the original medieval village built on a rocky spur overlooking the wooded valley of Valle Ariccia, the ancient drained lake where the remains of the ancient Latin city of Ariccia are located, now considered testimony of very ancient history.
Ariccia is famous for the great building works carried out in the 17th century that transformed its architectural appearance: Bernini, in fact, realized the magnificent urban complex of the present Piazza della Repubblica, on which the important Palazzo Chigi and the interesting church Chiesa dell’Assunta are aligned.
Besides the great prestige of these historical buildings and the beauty of the landscape, the local gastronomic specialties – such as the famous porchetta (suckling pig) and the lovely wine of the Castelli – contribute to make Ariccia one of the most popular destinations of the Colli Albani.
Montefiascone, located not far from Rome, is situated on the highest peak of Volsini, 590 meters above sea level. Just 7 kilometers from Viterbo, the town offers a breathtaking view of Lake Bolsena and a rich history that can be seen in the architecture and the many historical monuments of the town. The origin of the city can be traced back to the Middle Ages.
In the 7th century it came into the possession of the Church and during the century it became an important Christian center. As a result of the favorable strategic position of the city and its consequent popularity, the city was frequently besieged and attempted to be captured.
For quite some time Montefiascone was a center of the rich and powerful. Popes, government officials and artists from Italy and beyond met there. However, the town’s luck was about to change. The prosperity was followed by a centuries-long period of decline. It was not until the 17th century that the far-sighted Cardinal Marco Antonio Barbarigo was able to restore the city to its former glory.
In addition to its rich history, Montefiascone is best known for its most famous export: Est!Est!!!Est!!!, a white wine known worldwide.
Situated on a hill 5 kilometers from the sea, it towers above the much younger quarters that have only been built in recent decades: the old town of Tarquinia. With its winding alleys, its small stores and its typical Italian cafés, it enchants every lover of the Italian way of life from the very first visit.
But Tarquinia gained world fame through an archaeological find that gave researchers deep insight into a culture that is difficult to grasp and explore today: that of the Etruscans. Here in Tarquinia a necropolis has been found in which a large number of tombs from the Etruscan period can be found. These are tombs for nobles, for couples and sometimes for whole families.
The tombs carved into the rock are decorated with wall paintings and frescoes that give an insight into the life and self-image of the Etruscans. The tombs, built between the 7th and the 4th century BC, differ quite a bit from each other, depending on the era of their construction. Like the necropolis of Cerveteri, which is not far away, the necropolis of Tarquinia was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2004.
Rieti is nestled in a beautiful landscape with several nature reserves, such as the nature reserve of the Reatin Lakes.
The largest reservoir in the region is Lago del Salto, located at an altitude of about 535 meters. The vegetation around the body of water is particularly lush, and the surrounding villages exude typical Italian charm. At the foot of the Laga Mountains lies Lago di Scandarello, and Lago del Turano is also well worth a visit. Geographically, Rieti is considered the navel of Italy and therefore received a monument in the center of the town.
The center of the attractive old town of Rieti is Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II, which is also home to the popular Dolphin Fountain. The town hall, which now houses the town museum, was built in the 13th century. In the immediate vicinity you can reach Piazza Battist with the Palace of the Prefecture in Renaissance architectural style. From here you can enjoy a splendid view of the oldest part of Rieti.
The cathedral, with its striking bell tower, originally dates back to the 12th century, but has since been rebuilt several times. Right next to it, you can admire the Bishop’s Palace, built in the 13th century, with the Papal Salon and the Bishop’s Arch. Two palaces particularly worth seeing are Palazzo Vecchiarelli in Via Roma and Palazzo Vincentini.
On the Lazio coast, between Rome and Naples, the clocks go even slower. Here, on the Via Appia, the former Roman road, lies the idyllic Terracina. The pretty coastal town has been spared international mass tourism and has largely retained its original character. Thus, it is mainly the Italians themselves who like to spend their summer vacation here.
Conquered by the Romans in the 4th century B.C., they tied the coastal town to the Imperium Romanum by extending the famous Via Appia. Even today, a large number of finds from that period have been preserved, most notably the ruins of the famous temple of Jupiter Anxurus on Monte S. Angelo.
It is not uncommon to find ancient ruins in Terracina that have been skillfully integrated into modern buildings. For example, the San Cesareo Cathedral in the center of the old town rests on the remains of an ancient temple. The columns and mosaics of this magnificent place of worship are particularly worth seeing.
In addition to the historic Terracina, there is also the popular port and seaside resort, with its beautiful sandy beaches. Here you can enjoy the sun and the sea at leisure or walk in the shade of pine trees, surrounded by the scent of Mediterranean flowers.
In the Alban Hills lies Frascati, one of the municipalities of the Castelli Romani in Lazio. Impressive are the incredible panoramas of the surrounding countryside as well as spectacular villas and art treasures from the 16th and 17th centuries. Guests from all over the world appreciate not only the proximity to Rome, but also the good food combined with the famous white wine Frascati.
Even in Roman times, Frascati was a popular destination to spend the summer. Spectacular patrician villas were built, some of which still characterize the townscape today and give Frascati a very special atmosphere. The Villa Aldobrandini, built for Pope Clement VIII between 1598 and 1603, as well as the Mondragone and Falconieri villas are well worth seeing.
Just off Piazza Marconi is a park with magnificent statues, grottoes and fountains that is open to visitors. After a long walk through the city, small restaurants invite you to relax with local delicacies and a glass of cool Frascati and make plans for the next excursions.
Like many medieval villages, Sermoneta, one of the most evocative and best preserved villages of Lazio, stands on a hill surrounded by chestnut groves and centuries-old olive groves. The element that dominates the whole town is stone.
The streets, alleys, houses, steps, civil and cult buildings are all built with this material, which contributes to a certain aspect that gives the impression that time has stopped. Thanks to its proximity to Rome, from which it is only 60 km away, and its intact charm, Sermoneta has become a popular destination for Romans spending a quiet weekend or a short day trip.
Besides walking through the winding streets of the village, there are some places in Sermoneta where every tourist must stop. It is obviously part of Caetani Castle, which overlooks the whole country and is an authentic town – a twelfth century fortress.
From the castle you can take the beautiful Via delle Scalette, a steep staircase that descends from the castle “antenna” to the Belvedere, from which the view is limitless to the sea
15. Castel Gandolfo
A good 20 kilometers southeast of Rome, in the Alban Hills, on the shores of Lake Albano, lies a place at an altitude of over 400 meters that was long hidden from the public: Castel Gandolfo – the summer residence of the popes. Only Francis opened the gates to the papal lands to visitors from all over the world.
Castel Gandolfo is located on the territory of the ancient city of Alba Longa. Rhea Silvia, the daughter of the king of Alba Longa, is said to have been the mother of the twins Romulus and Remus. According to legend, they are credited with the founding of the city of Rome.
It was the Roman Emperor Domitian (51-96 A.D.) who had a villa built on this site. It subsequently changed hands several times before falling to the Holy See in 1596, which turned it into a palace. From the middle of the 17th century Castel Gandolfo was used as a papal summer residence. Since 1929, the property has been exterritorial territory of the Vatican.
The property, located between the Mediterranean Sea and Lago di Albano, is characterized by oak woods, olive trees and Baroque garden art and covers an area of 55 hectares. The property is built with three villas: The Papal Palace, Villa Cybo and Villa Barberini.
Near Rome lies the picturesque town of Subiaco in the middle of the scenic Aniene Valley. About 60 km east of Italy’s capital, Subiaco in the Lazio region is considered particularly worth seeing. The medieval town owes its worldwide fame to the Benedictine monasteries of Santa Scolastica and San Benedetto.
The historic town center with its narrow, steep streets invites you to take a walk back to the Middle Ages. The picturesque houses of the old town frame the rock Rocca dei Borgia up to the hilltop where the Borgia Castle stands out.
Besides its historical monuments, Subiaco offers splendid views of nature. Surrounded by wooded mountains, Subiaco is situated on a hill of 400 meters. From the belvedere in the center of the village a splendid panorama presents itself. In the valley rushes the river Aniene, which shines turquoise on its way through the hilly countryside of Rome.
Already at the time of Emperor Nero, Subiaco was a popular tourist destination. At Sublaqueum, the Romans under Emperor Claudius built a dam of a size unsurpassed until then. Until its destruction in 1305, the dam was considered the highest dam in the world. Emperor Nero had a magnificent villa built near the reservoirs. He was followed by other noble families from Rome to relax in the freshness of the Campagna Romana.
13. Bracciano Lake
Nestled in the Sabatini Mountains, between the cities of Rome and Viterbo, lies a lake known for its azure crystal clear waters and the intact nature that surrounds it. The Bracciano Lake.
The most beautiful view of the lake can be seen from the Belvedere della Sentinella in the town of Bracciano. The medieval center of the town as well as the impressive Orsini-Odescalchi Castle should not be missed by visitors interested in culture. In the town of Bracciano there are several restaurants and nice pubs where you can taste wine from the region and excellent fish directly from Lake Bracciano.
In the area around the lake, whose precious water was once transported to the main town by a Roman aqueduct, great importance has been attached to the protection of the landscape and nature. You will not find any building sins in the form of large hotel complexes here. The water itself is closed to motorboats.
But friends of the gentle tourism at the Lago die Bracciano get their money’s worth. Here you can swim, sail, surf and dive. On the shore there are several sailing and surfing schools, which also rent boats, surfboards and other equipment.
12. Civita di Bagnoregio
The hamlet of Civita di Bagnoregio is a place from another time. Accessible only by a footbridge, the place is inhabited by few people. But vacationers are welcome. Accommodations are plentiful both in Civita di Bagnoregio and in the various nearby towns and villages.
The once proud town of Civita di Bagnoregio, perched like a crown on the top of a tufa rock and attracting mainly with beautiful medieval and partly ancient buildings within its historic walls, was already considered a dying village in the 70s and 80s of the last century. At times no more than 5 – 12 people lived here. At that time, landslides were too frequent, regular maintenance of the houses was too expensive, and the prospects of finding a good job here or in the immediate vicinity were too poor.
Today, Civita di Bagnoregio is considered one of the most beautiful villages in Italy, and rightly so. The medieval town, which can only be reached by a pedestrian bridge and has therefore been completely spared from cars until today, offers a short but intense view, in the middle of the history of Italy. If you take a walk through Civita di Bagnoregio, you will not only find romantic relaxation. But also the feeling of being immersed in another world.
Anagni has a well-preserved old town with many houses dating from the 13th to the 15th century. The Cathedral of Anagni is the Episcopal Church of the Diocese of Anagni-Alatri.
The construction of the cathedral in Anagni was carried out between 1072 and 1104 by Bishop Pietro da Salerno with the support of the Eastern Roman Emperor Michael VII Ducas. The hill had already been used religiously in Roman times. The transept was built around 1200. Pope Alexander IV consecrated the great hall crypt in 1255.
Since Anagni served as the summer residence of the popes for a long time in the 13th century, important historical events took place here, such as the “pactum anagninum” and the papal election in 1243, further the canonization of St. Bernard of Clairvaux and St. Clare of Assisi. The excommunications of the antipope Victor IV as well as of Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa , Frederick II and Manfred were also imposed here. After the assassination of Pope Boniface VIII, born in Anagni in 1303, the papal residence was moved to Avignon in 1309.
Whitewashed houses, neat alleys and countless staircases flanked by terracotta pots in which flowering creepers in pink and white grow. This is how the old town of Sperlonga welcomes its visitors. Cars do not drive here in the narrow streets. When the visitor reaches the plateau of the old town, the view opens up to the expanse of the sea.
Sperlonga is located in the province of Latina in Lazio, 116 kilometers southeast of Rome. The coastal town is considered one of the most beautiful and picturesque places in southern Italy. And probably this assessment is true, because the old town is located on a hollow rock plateau, from which the town descends to the port with small hotels, stores and restaurants.
Around always the color white is predominant: facades, stairs and street pavements – the visitor experiences a city that radiates brightness and friendliness. This is what attracts tourists. The long sandy beaches of Sperlonga do the rest. From the old town, one looks out onto the seemingly endless beaches, which are frequented by bathers in the summer.
Sperlonga had a prominent resident. The Roman emperor Tiberius had his summer villa built here. The emperor, who avoided residing in Rome for long periods of time, built a huge villa here with the help of skilled architects.
9. Circeo National Park
One of the oldest national parks in Italy extends to the southeast of Rome on the Tyrrhenian Sea. The Circeo National Park was founded in 1934 to preserve the last remnants of the Pontine Marshes. Today the protected area includes vast wetlands and forests, dune and lagoon landscapes, rocky coasts and pristine beaches.
The terrain is ideal for hiking, fishing and bird watching. Near Sabaudia, in the shadow of Mount Circeo, and near San Felice Circeo, there are the most beautiful sandy beaches. Also worth seeing are the ruins of a Roman acropolis at San Felice Circeo and a Gothic monastery complex of the Cistercian monks who began draining the marshland in the 13th century.
The Etruscans cultivated a pronounced cult of the dead, as many necropolises in Tuscany and Lazio prove. If you find the tombs of Sovana or Vulci already impressive, you should definitely visit the necropolis of Cerveteri. “City of the dead” is truly an appropriate description for what presents itself to the visitor.
The sheer size alone is impressive: the part excavated so far and developed as an archaeological park covers 12 hectares. Unfortunately, most of it is still buried; the entire necropolis covered 400 hectares in Etruscan times. And remember, this was only the city’s cemetery!
The Etruscans, in fact, separated their cities into a “city of the living” and a “city of the dead.” Curiously, they furnished the houses of the dead almost as comfortably as those of the living. In fact, the tombs are modeled on dwellings – complete with beds (on which the corpses rested), seating furniture, columns, windows, ornaments and everything else needed for life in the afterlife.
The most impressive tomb is certainly the “Tomba dei Rilievi”, in which particularly elaborate decorations can be found – and after two and a half millennia, still particularly colorful ones. A pomp that would have done honor even to an Egyptian pharaoh.
7. Ostia Antica
A stone’s throw from Rome’s center lies Ostia Antica, the former port city and commercial center of ancient Rome. The “Parco Archeologico di Ostia Antica” is something of an insider tip among the sights in Rome and one of the best-preserved Roman excavation sites in the world.
Covering an area of about 100 hectares, tourists can let their imagination run wild about 30 minutes by car southwest of Rome and dive deep into the history of Roman life.
Only a short distance from the sea, magnificently preserved ruins can be visited for hours. About two-thirds of the former port city could already be made visible through excavations.
Among them are numerous dwellings and temples, the 3,000-person theater of Marcus Agrippa, as well as other thermal baths, bakeries, taverns, dye works, trade representations, tombs and much more.
It attracts many visitors to Tivoli and this is mainly due to the fact that the famous Villa d’Este is located here. However, the impressive building is only one of the sights of the city. The cityscape itself is characterized by imposing buildings, narrow streets and countless opportunities to stop in one of the restaurants and taste the tasty Roman cuisine.
What is it that makes Villa D’Este so incomparable? It is the combination of art and history. The legend that surrounds the creation of the villa tells of Cardinal Ippolito II d’Este. He came to Tivoli and moved his residence to the existing Benedictine monastery. However, this did not satisfy his demands and he began to build a palace out of the monastery.
The surrounding valley was turned into a hillside garden and the building itself was transformed into the impressive structure still known today as Villa d’Este. More than 500 water features and fountains dot the park. Landscaped grottos and springs provide romantic highlights and the well-kept ambience is pure romance. Not far from Tivoli is also Villa Hadriana with the Canopus Valley. Especially the island of solitude attracts the attention of visitors here. The excursions to these incomparable monuments will certainly remain in your memory.
In the middle of the roaring city center of Rome rests, as if in an oasis, the ancient remains of the Roman empire of power. Nestled among pines, oleanders and broom bushes, the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Capitol lie draped before the visitor as if on a stage.
Rome, the eternal city on the Tiber, built on seven hills in Lazio, is Italy’s number one tourist magnet. About five million travelers a year are drawn to the center of the former world empire. Today, Rome is still the political center and, with 2.7 million inhabitants, the largest city in Italy.
Its rich historical heritage is reflected in an immense variety of theaters, churches, museums, villas and parks that would indeed take a vacationer an eternity to visit. But this is not the only reason why visitors return to Rome again and again. Between lively venues and quiet old town alleys, Rome has an unspoiled, casual everyday and street life that still recalls scenes from Fellini’s cult film “Dolce Vita.”
Within Rome is the Vatican City. As an independent and smallest state in the world, its territory includes St. Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican Palace and the Vatican Museums. St. Peter’s Basilica attracts tourists from all over the world, especially at Easter time.
It was Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, a grandson of Pope Paul III, who commissioned the building in 1550. None other than Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola was entrusted with the demanding project. Vignola designed the massive structure. The center is an inner courtyard lined with colonnades. A total of five staircases provide access to all five floors of the villa. Particularly impressive is the spiral-shaped Scala Regia, through which the main rooms can be reached.
The interiors then take the visitor’s breath away: high Doric columns in the staircase, a whole twelve representative rooms on the piano nobile, lavishly decorated with ornate ceiling paintings and frescoes by the Zuccari brothers, are reminiscent of the rooms in the Vatican. Particularly worth seeing are the Hall of Cards, decorated on all sides with representations of world maps, and the Summer Dining Room, decorated with grottoes.
But also the park of the villa was designed with great attention to detail. A moat with drawbridges gives the estate castle character. There is a geometrically designed maze; other parts of the gardens, however, are hidden: the visitor discovers the hidden gardens only when walking through a chestnut forest. The parks are characterized by fountains, cascades and grottos. The dolphin fountain with water stairs and the satyr grotto are definitely worth seeing. There is also a small summer house, called the Casino.
Mediterranean landscape, secluded bays and picturesque fishing villages – Ponza is a paradise for water sports enthusiasts and nature lovers. Especially divers get their money’s worth on Ponza.
The only 7.3 km² small Italian island Ponza forms together with Ventotene, Santo Stefano, Gavi, Zannone and Palmarola the archipelago of the Pontine Islands. It is located off the Italian coast of the Lazio region in the Tyrrhenian Sea and is a popular destination for mainly Italian vacationers during the summer months.
Ponza is a destination for individual vacationers: you won’t find large hotel buildings, crowded shopping centers or long sandy beaches here. Instead, family-run hotels, guesthouses and restaurants offer their guests warm service and unique culinary experiences. Everything on the table is homemade: pasta from the kitchen, vegetables and fruit from the garden and fish from the sea.
The beaches of Ponza are beautiful, but not always easy to reach. The most famous beach section of Ponza is Spiaggia Chiaia Luna in the southeast of the island. If you want to go in search of secluded bays, you will find many captains in the harbor of the eponymous town of Ponza, who take guests on a discovery tour in their boats.
Even the ancient Romans appreciated it as a spa and bathing resort: the town of Gaeta on the Lazio coast. To this day, it has remained a popular destination for beach vacationers. But Gaeta is more than that. The town can look back on a long and eventful history.
Situated on a promontory, the port town is especially popular with Italian travelers in high summer. Gaeta has a pretty waterfront and beautiful sandy beaches. The tourist infrastructure is well developed, and there is also a lively nightlife.
The Romans discovered the town for themselves in the 4th century. The famous orator Cicero owned a property here, and even in the works of the poet Virgil the town is mentioned.
In the Middle Ages Gaeta experienced an upswing as a commercial center. In the narrow streets of the old town you can still find many well-preserved buildings from that period.
Just outside the town, on Monte Orlando, there is an extraordinary natural monument to admire: the so-called Montagna Spaccata (split mountain). Also worth seeing: the small sanctuary at Monte Orlando. Nearby is another popular tourist destination: the Grotta del Turco.
1. Monte Casino
In 529 Benedict of Nursia began the construction of the first monastery in Cassino. He is also the eponym of the order. From the site, Christianity spread throughout Europe. After several destructions by fires, earthquakes and wars, Monte Cassino was rebuilt again and again, most recently after the Second World War.
The abbot at the time insisted on using the original building plans from the 17th and 18th centuries for the reconstruction. In ten years of construction, Monte Cassino was rebuilt, partly using building materials from the destroyed monastery. Today the cloister forms the entrance to the monastery. The first thing you reach is the chapel where Benedict died.
Today the monastery is a memorial and an international meeting place for survivors and survivors of the war, as well as for youth groups.
Since its beginnings, Monte Cassino has been a place of refuge, providing comfort and practical assistance in the form of food. The prudent management by the Benedictines makes this possible.