Italy ranks as one of the top 5 most visited countries in the world and the reasons are anything but far-fetched. Among all of the top cities, Rome is one that simply cannot be missed. But what about the often-forgotten gems of the Lazio Region that surround the capital?
If you are looking to take a breather from the norm, read on. We will show you why Lazio is so much more than the Roman highlights that take up all the guidebook pages, so next time you visit you’ll have the opportunity to escape the traditional tourist paths and discover sensational, hidden, lesser-known gems of one of the world’s most beautiful regions.
Bomarzo Monster Park
The Bomarzo Moster Park is one of Italy’s most unique attractions, and precursor to the modern amusement park
The Bomarzo Monster Park, also known as the “Park of Monsters”, is located right in the heart of Tuscia in Lazio. In this park, a hidden hideaway you’ll not want to miss, you’ll be transported into an imaginary world filled with colossal monsters and mythical animals made of stone centuries ago. Interestingly, unlike your typical Halloween groove, the Bomarzo Monster Park is likely to instill wander, rather than fear. For over 500 years, the monuments have stood, a testament to the solid architectural prowess of their creator, Pirro Ligorio.
When Prince Pier Francesco Orsini commissioned this mystical park, many questioned his sanity and reasoning. Nevertheless, it was clear that the place was built with love and deep affection in mind, evident in the Tempietto, or “the little temple”, dedicated to his wife, which remains situated over a small hill with an amazing view.
Though Bormazo is not particularly easy to reach by public transport, you can catch a train from Rome to Viterbo (Line FL3) or Orte Scalo (Line FL1) and then continue towards the park using a COTRAL bus, but we highly recommend renting a car for a no-holds-barred day in the countryside.
Gaeta: City by the Sea
There is a ton of history loaded into Gaeta’s tiny walls, and the beach is great too!
If you’re in the mood to sunbathe, take a walk or enjoy one of the more eclectic beaches that Italy has to offer, look no further than Gaeta. In anceint times, Gaeta was one of the military strongholds built for advantage in the event of a possible invasion, and the structures were coveted by wealthy Roman citizens. When in Gaeta, make a date with the Grotta Del Turco, a majestic ocean front cave that gives a different perspective of what the local nature has to offer.
Gaeta is strategically located between Rome and Naples, which makes it easily accessible via a variety of transportation options. Coming from Rome? From the A1 motorway exit at Cassino, use the Provincial road and proceed towards Formia, the road that will lead you directly to Gaeta’s imposing skyline.
Villa d’Este & Its Renaissance Gardens
Before the days of streaming, ironically it was waterworks that captured the popular imagination
A 16th-century villa located in Tivoli near Rome, this is another beautiful masterpiece that shows just how much nature can frame an intriguing manmade destination. Villa d’Este, now listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is known for its unique collection of fountains and sculptures, which boldly exhibit the architectural prowess of Romans from the ancient to the Renaissance.
The garden is much like a compilation, made up with parts of Italian history, including stunning waterfalls and terraces that offer a remarkable glimpse into the wonders of the ancient world. On a clear day you can even see the dome of St. Peter’s from the belvedere, we recommend at sunset.
Hadrian’s Villa Archaeological Park
If you’ve read Hadrian’s memoirs than you will not want to miss this lasting monument to his vision of perfection
Another UNESCO World Heritage Site, Hadrian’s Villa, or “Villa d’Adriano”, is widely acclaimed to be the most extravagant yet remarkable villa in all of Lazio. Built at the request of one of the city’s finest Emperors, this villa served as the home of Hadrian, who allegedly was not pleased with the palace provided for him in Rome.
Aside from offering acres of picturesque gardens, sculptures, and ancient ruins to explore, it also serves as a lovely location for a picnic with family or friends.
The Beautiful Garden of Ninfa
You’ll feel lost in the mists of magic and time in the Giardino di Ninfa, fittingly named for nymphs
Looking for a place to enjoy a magical green escape? The Garden of Ninfa should be at the top of your list. The 260-acre park is home to a variety of fauna and flora, including massive oak and cypress trees surrounded by water coures, grassy meadows, and more. It is one of the most beautiful gardens in the country and certainly an underestimated day trip from the Eternal City.
The garden belongs to the Caetani family, who have held it since the late 14th century. Sometime in 1382, the site was abandoned but was discovered by Leila Caetani in 1922. Leila, the last descendant of the Caetani family, recreated the garden with her husband to its present state.
Sperlonga: Pure Mediterranean Style
Sperlonga is the best place near Rome to soak up authentic full-bodied Mediterranean atmosphere
Have you ever seen those gorgeous Italian seaside getaways with white sand on social media and wondered whether they actually exist on earth? This is it. Sperlonga will truly take your breath away. A beautiful seaside city in Rome, this awesome destintion can be easily reached by public transport from Rome, via train and bus.
The blue-flag beaches are sparkling clean and their neighboring hills are covered in white buildings with winding cobblestone walkways that are almost too cute to be real. In fact, it’s such a beautiful location that Emperor Tiberius himself chose to make it his home. You can even visit the stunning Grotto del Turco, a cave cut into the seaside cliffs which he once lavishly decked to entertain guests.
Civita di Bagnoregio in the Tuscia Romana
Civita di Bagnoregio is quite possibly one of the most unique places you’ll ever visit
Another one of Lazio’s best-kept secrets, this hilltop village makes up one of the world’s most exquisitely preserved representations of the medieval times.
It towers over a vast expanse of trees from the top of a steep plateaued hill, and can only be accessed by crossing a long pedestrian bridge. Not to worry, the journey pays off when you reach the end and look out over Lazio’s gorgeous expanse below.
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