7 Secret Italian Countryside Destinations near Rome

Buon giorno and welcome to Stefano’s RomeCabs Travel Blog.

For more than 15 years we’ve taken tens of thousands of travelers vacationing in Rome on fun filled day trips and excursions to the amazing Roman countryside and beyond.

The Roman countryside area extends from Rome and beyond into the Lazio region that is filled with charming areas unique in their own ways culturally, historically and architecturally.

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In this blog we listed the 7 Must See countryside destinations near Rome that are also most frequently requested and booked by our clients.

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7 Secret Italian Countryside Destinations near Rome

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Cerveteri –  Banditaccia Etruscan Necropolis

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Before there were Romans and the Roman Empire, there was another ancient civilization that preceded them:  the Etruscans – an advanced pre-Roman civilization that dominated the central Italian peninsula that was called Etruria from around 9th century BC to 3rd Century BC when they were conquered by the growing Roman Republic.

Most of what we know about the Etruscans are what has been gathered from their cities of the dead: the Etruscan Necropoli.

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Tomb of Reliefs - Banditaccia Etruscan Necropolis

Tomb of Reliefs – Banditaccia Etruscan Necropolis (with RomeCabs)

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Cerveteri was once a large important Etruscan city state, however, what remains today is their huge 1,000 acre necropolis that spans across the entire Etruscan civilization from around 9th century BC to 3rd century BC with thousands of burial sites.

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Cerveteri Etruscan Necropolis - Countryside Destinations near Rome

Cerveteri Etruscan Necropolis – Countryside Destinations near Rome with RomeCabs

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* BOOK A TOUR WITH A VISIT TO  CERVETERI:   The Banditaccia Necropolis in Cerveteri is part of our Countryside Splendor Tour, and also part of the Ostia Antica and Cerveteri Tour offered by our sister company Stefano Rome Tours.
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Tarquinia  – Monterozzi Etruscan Necropolis

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Tarquinia used to be another ancient Etruscan city state that carries the name of the famous Etruscan king Tarquinius Superbus.  

Today Tarquinia is a phenomenal Medieval city with large historic buildings, and enough Medieval towers to earn it the nickname: The San Gimignano of Lazio (due to the many towers that resemble the famous San Gimignano in Tuscany).

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TARQUINIA TOWERS - Countryside Destinations near Rome

TARQUINIA TOWERS – Countryside Destinations near Rome

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The National Museum in Tarquinia is dedicated to Etruscan artifacts discovered inside the tombs of the nearby necropolis that is completely unlike the necropolis in Cerveteri.

Just outside the city is the Monterozzi Necropolis that boasts the most unique ancient underground tombs in the world!

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Tomba delle Leonese  - Monterozzi Etruscan Necropolis, Tarquinia (with RomeCabs)

Tomba delle Leonese – Monterozzi Etruscan Necropolis, Tarquinia (with RomeCabs)

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What makes these 6th century BC tombs spectacular is that many of them are painted with incredibly vibrant and detailed frescoes that depict various aspects of the lives of these enigmatic Etruscan as they celebrate, feast, dance, play musical instruments, hunt, fish, play sports, and more.  

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Monterozzi Etruscan Necropolis in Tarquinia - with RomeCabs

Tomb of the Jugglers- Monterozzi Etruscan Necropolis in Tarquinia – with RomeCabs

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The tombs rotate to about a dozen or so open to visitors, with a flight of stairs that take you underground to a metal door with a glass window for viewing.  Press the button next to the door to turn on the light inside the tomb. Due to the fragility of the ancient frescoes, the tombs are sealed off and climate controlled so they can be preserved for as long as possible.

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Tomb of the Leopards - Monterozzi Etruscan Necropolis

Tomb of the Leopards – Monterozzi Etruscan Necropolis (with RomeCabs)

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* BOOK A TOUR WITH A VISIT TO TARQUINIA:  Tarquinia and Monterozzi Etruscan Necropolis are featured in the ETRUSCAN MYSTERY TOUR offered by Stefano Rome Tours.

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Tuscania

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Tuscania (not to be confused with Tuscany) is a delightful ancient walled city whose origins dates back prior to the Etruscan civilization,  and evolved and grown over the centuries into the Medieval and Renaissance era that blessed it with the architectural charm we can admire today.

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Quiet street in Tuscania - Secret Italian Countryside Destinations near Rome

Quiet street in Tuscania – Secret Italian Countryside Destinations near Rome

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A terraced park will reward you with splendid panoramic of a majestic valley with soft rolling hills dotted with ruins of Medieval fortress walls and  two massive Medieval churches: San Pietro that rests on top where the ancient acropolis used to be, and Santa Maria Maggiore just below.

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San Pietro Church in Tuscania

San Pietro Church in Tuscania

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This could very well have been the enchanting view that inspired poets like D.H. Lawrence to write: “the most beautiful valley in all Italy, the Etruscan valley of Tuscania”.

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Tuscania's beautiful Etruscan Valley

Tuscania’s beautiful Etruscan Valley

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This quiet town with stunning historical architecture, medieval towers, delicious local cuisine, and breathtaking views is a hidden gem that merits to be discovered by appreciative travelers.

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* BOOK A TOUR WITH A VISIT TO TUSCANIA:  Tuscania is featured in the ETRUSCAN MYSTERY TOUR offered by Stefano Rome Tours.
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Sutri

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Sutri is another remarkable Medieval village that rests peacefully on a picturesque tuffa cliff.

Like Tuscania, Sutri’s roots also reach as far back as the Etruscan civilization when it was known as Sutrium.  The name derives from an ancient legend that has it Sutri was founded by the pagan god Saturn – whose name the Etruscans pronounced “Sutrinas”, adding interest to this otherwise curious ancient legend.

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Ancient Roman Amphetheater in Sutri

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Reminders of Sutri’s ancient is evident when you visit the Roman era elliptical amphitheater carved right into the Savorelli hill. Estimated to have been built between 2ne-1st Century BC,  the amphitheater could seat over 9,000 spectators.

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Etruscan rupestrian Necropolis in Sutri

Etruscan rupestrian Necropolis in Sutri

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Nearby is a rupestrian Etruscan necropolis with numerous surviving tombs carved into the vertical tuffa cliff that resemble large niches.

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Mithraeum converted into Church of Madonna del Parto

Pagan Mithraeum converted into Church of Madonna del Parto

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Also remarkable is a cave that was once pagan Mithraeum later converted into the Church of Madonna del Parto.

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* BOOK A TOUR WITH A VISIT TO  SUTRI:   Sutri is featured in the VITERBO, SUTRI AND CALCATA TOUR offered by Stefano Rome Tours.

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Calcata

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Calcata is a delightful tiny hilltop medieval countryside village that overlooks a steep river valley and is surrounded by dense forests.

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Calcata - Secret Italian Countryside Destinations near Rome

Calcata – Secret Italian Countryside Destinations near Rome

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Following an earthquake in early 1900’s the village was abandoned in the 1930’s when the cliff upon which the village stands was considered unstable and at risk of collapsing. However, by the 1960’s the village began to be repopulated by hippies and artists who sought to escape the negative aspects of city life, and squatted the empty stone buildings to create a simpler and creative life for themselves.

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Calcata - Secret Italian Countryside Destinations near Rome

Calcata – Secret Italian Countryside Destinations near Rome

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Eventually additional geological surveys confirmed the solidity of the cliff rendering the village safe for human occupancy, and thus many of the squatters purchased their homes. Soon a small community of artists began to thrive into an eclectic village that New York Times referred to as “ the grooviest village in Italy, home to a wacky community of about 100 artists, bohemians, aging hippies and New Age types”.

Here you can expect to find local artisan shops, cozy cafes, small vegan restaurants, pubs, and bakeries.

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* BOOK A TOUR WITH A VISIT TO  CALCATA: Calcata is featured in the VITERBO, SUTRI AND CALCATA TOUR offered by Stefano Rome Tours.

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Fumone

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Fumone is a haunting medieval village strategically situated on top of a conical hill overlooking the rustic region of Ciociaria.  The town’s unique vantage point has given it the important function of overseeing the territory in case of invasions and enemy attacks during the medieval ages.  Smoke signals were sent to warn neighboring establishments of pending attacks. Rightfully, the name Fumone means “big smoke”. An ancient saying went: “When Fumone smokes, the region trembles”.

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Fumone - Secret Italian Countryside Destinations near Rome

Fumone – Secret Italian Countryside Destinations near Rome

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The tiny village of Fumone is dominated by Castello Fumone –  a castle that is considered by locals to be haunted by ghostly presences due to its brutal history.  This could possibly be one of the creepiest castles you can visit in Italy!

In 1295 Pope Boniface VIII imprisoned the previous Pope Celestine V who abdicated his papal throne out of fear that Celestine might reconsider and reclaim his papal position.   Celestine was kept prisoner in a tiny cell inside the castle where he later died. When visiting the castle you can also see this very cell where one pope imprisoned another.

In the late 17th century the castle became property of the Longhi marquises whose descendants are still the current owners of the castle.  The castle is also said to be haunted by a dark event that took place in the Longhi family in the 1800’s when the sole son died under mysterious circumstances when he was a small boy.  The grieving mother had the boy embalmed and kept him in a glass coffin which you can see upon visiting the castle.

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The haunting village of Fumone

The haunting village of Fumone

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If you’re also looking for Halloween theme tour from Rome, keep Fumone in mind…. Better yet, book an overnight stay inside the haunted castle!

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* BOOK A TOUR WITH A VISIT TO FUMONE:  Fumone is featured in the LEGENDS AND CASTLES TOUR  offered by Stefano Rome Tours

Castello fumone

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Bomarzo Monster Park

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Near the town of Bomarzo tucked away in the heart of the Sacred Wood is a magnificent park filled with riveting yet sometimes grotesque sculptures that appear to blend into the woodsy surroundings, waiting to surprise you at each turn.
This unique Manieristic park was commissioned by Pier Francesco “Vicino” Orsini who was a great military leader and patron of the arts of the 16th century.  

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Bomarzo Monster Park - Secret Italian Destinations with RomeCabs

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This goal of this shocking creation was not to represent the good in the world, but perhaps a result of his life’s unfortunate tragedies.  Orsini was a brave general who fought in a horrible war during which his close friend was killed, and as soon as he returned home after years of being held as a war prisoner in Germany, his beloved wife passed away.

As you stroll through this mythical Monster Park you will come across many surprising moss covered stone creatures including an enormous monstrous head with its mouth wide open in a scream – large enough to enter and sit at the table placed inside the monster’s head –  true to the inscription: all reason departs.

Not to be missed is the leaning house with tilted floors that will leave you feeling a bit off balance and perhaps even a little queasy –  definitely not a house one could live in!

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Bomarzo Park - Secret Italian Destinations with RomeCabs

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* BOOK A TOUR WITH A VISIT TO BOMARZO PARK:  Bomarzo Park is part of the MONSTERS AND MYTHS TOUR offered by Stefano Rome Tours.
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Alatri

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Alatri is quite a unique mountain town also in the heart of rural Ciociaria region. Alatri flourished during the Medieval period, and it’s still a perfectly maintained medieval village that will impress you with with its beautiful architecture that line quiet streets that invite you for a stroll.

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ALATRI - Secret Italian Destinations with RomeCabs

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The town itself that has been in existence since 2nd millennium BC as an ancient Italic tribe of the Hernici and known as Aletrium. Notice how the modern names of so many Italian towns resemble their ancient names from more than 2,500 years ago!

Alatri is particularly fascinating for its jaw dropping megalithic fortification walls made up of large polygonal blocks of limestone perfectly jointed without use of cement or any binding materials. You can’t even pass a sheet of paper through the joints.

Centuries ago, it was believed that Cyclops built those walls as the daunting task was thought only giants could achieve.

You can see these well preserved megalithic polygonal walls, as well as two ancient entry doors (Porta Maggiore and Porta Minore) on top of the town which was originally the acropolis.

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Alatri Polygonal Walls

Alatri Polygonal Walls

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The current cathedral was built on top of ancient pagan temples.

From the acropolis you can catch stunning views of the faraway Ernici mountains and the picturesque fertile valleys below.

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* BOOK A TOUR WITH A VISIT TO ALATRI:  Alatri is featured the LEGENDS AND CASTLES TOUR  offered by Stefano Rome Tours

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We hope you enjoyed this journey to the 7 Secret Italian Countryside Destinations near Rome.  

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If you wish to book any tours that include these wonderful places and experience them for yourself, please visit our website  as well as our sister company Stefano Rome Tours for complete tour information and itineraries.

Some of the destinations are also possible to achieve as Shore Excursions from Civitavecchia if you will be cruising to Italy.

Thank you very much and we look forward to showing you beautiful places in Italy!

The RomeCabs Team

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Top Destination Tours with Stefano's RomeCabs

Top Destination Tours with Stefano’s RomeCabs

 

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