10 Most picturesque towns near Rome (my favorites!)

Here are some of the most picturesque towns near Rome that I know, and that I consider among the most beautiful and fascinating in the surroundings. If like me you love medieval towns, castles, coats of arms, regional cuisine, less touristy places, you'll probably enjoy a trip to these italian borghi a lot.


1: Civita di Bagnoregio. Regularly included in many lists of the most beautiful towns in the country, in Italy we often refer to Bagnoregio as the "dying town". The reason is its very precarious position: the buildings sit on a hill made of porous tuff rock, and the borders of the town are slowly but inexorably falling down the valley, as the material is eroded by water and wind. Today Bagnoregio is inhabited by just a dozen of people, and the only access to the center is a small aerial bridge, exclusively accessible to pedestrians and occasionally to motorcycles.

There is a wonderful view of the town, when you arrive, and also from the town itself, when you are in its center, since Bagnoregio is located in the middle of a valley with a characteristic geology. There are many calanchi in this area: hill sides that have long lines produced by the erosion of water on clay.

by car it takes approx. 1 hour 40 minutes from Rome

surroundings: there's plenty of interesting places nearby that you may include in this day trip: Orvieto, the "monster park" near Bomarzo, Bolsena lake, the town Pitigliano is very picturesque as well, and Calcata which is half-way from Rome.


2: Calcata. Less famous than her "sister" dying town Bagnoregio, Calcata is closer to Rome and in a different area, but has a similar type of geology and appearance, in fact also the buildings of Calcata are clinging to a cliff, and at risk of falling down. But compared to Bagnoregio, Calcata is probably even a step further in the direction of non-touristy: there is a small flow of tourists in summer -not many anyway-, but if you come here in the middle of the week, or off season, it's not unlikely that you'll be the only tourists around, and the few residents (mostly old people) will scrutinize you with curiosity.

Walking on the lanes at the edges of the town is extremely fascinating, you'll hear the sound of water coming from the river Treja, flowing down the valley, and the whisper of the wind. Many buildings are abandoned, and for sale for very cheap prices. But there are also tiny, active restaurants hidden in niches, small boutiques with local products, especially food and art. It's a very suggestive town and I definitely recommend it for a trip.

by car it takes approx. 50 minutes from Rome.

surroundings: interesting places that you may include in the same day trip are the town Civita Castellana nearby, Bracciano lake and the town Trevignano facing it, and you can continue heading north to reach Bagnoregio driving for approx. other 50 minutes.


3: Sermoneta is ideal for a day trip from Rome, it has a lot to offer. The town itself is very picturesque, a medieval borgo built in white stones and cement, very well preserved. There are several good restaurants with tasty local food, like porchetta (roasted piglet) and trombolotto (sauce made with lemons, typical of this area). There are three main attractions here: the Caetani castle, located right at the center of the town, the oasis of Ninfa, a gorgeous natural oasis just outside the town, and Valvisciolo abbey, outside Sermoneta but very close to it as well. All of them are very deserving, especially the oasis in spring/summer.

Another destination that you may consider including in the same trip with Sermoneta is Norma, the town sitting on top of the mountain that you can see from the oasis of Ninfa. If you leave early in the day, you can manage to see everything, otherwise I suggest to give priority to the castle and the oasis.

by car it takes approx. 1 hour 30 minutes from Rome. by train you can do Rome - Latina (approx. 35 minutes), then from Latina train station you can take a bus/taxi to the town.

surroundings: Fossanova abbey is not far away, but if you're doing this as a day trip I think there's already more than enough in Sermoneta and surroundings.


4: Collalto Sabino is a gracious little town at the east side of Rome, near the Turano lake, with a marked medieval look and surrounded by woods with secular chestnut and beech trees. Collalto sits on a hill which is almost 1000 meters high ("colle alto" means "high hill" in italian) and is developed around a baronial castle. The town's history started in the Xth century, when the populations of the valley gathered on the hill searching for shelter, since the Saracens were frequently raiding this area. The settlement gradually became a town, with fortified walls, and eventually the castle was built for defence.

From the top of the town there's a 360° view of the mountains around, that includes some of central Italy's highest mountains (Terminillo, Gran Sasso). At night the lights of the small towns in the surroundings will gradually turn on and start to shine, creating a truly magical atmosphere.

by car it takes approx. 1 hour from Rome

surroundings: nearby is another very charming little town worth a visit: Castel di Tora, on the Turano lake.


5: Vitorchiano is another very charming little town in the surroundings of Rome: it lies on a huge fractured boulder on the Cimini mountains. Vitorchiano has Etruscan origins and is famous for the "peperino" gray stone, used since ancient times for buildings and sculptures. This town's history was heavily influenced by Viterbo, a bigger and more powerful city nearby. After a long struggle, and a period of attacks launched by Viterbo, that wanted to expand and conquer Vitorchiano, the people of Vitorchiano found salvation by submitting to Rome, obtaining protection in return.

The surroundings are characterized by a hilly landscape with woods and rivers, with a rich wild fauna and flora. To the beauty of the nature correspond great quality food products such as mushrooms, olive oil, nuts, wines, cheeses, salami. The territory is rich of expressions of Vitorchiano's historical heritage, especially from Etruscan, Roman and Medieval ages.

by car it takes approx. 1 hour 20 minutes from Rome

surroundings: interesting places that you may include in the same trip are the town Calcata (mid-way) and Vico lake.


6: Castel Gandolfo, approx. 40 minutes drive from Rome, is one of the nearest to Rome and very convenient for a day trip, the town is nice and the landscape too. Here is the summer residence of the popes, and the Albano lake is just at the feet of the hill, so it can be admired from several terraces of the town. watch video


7: Olevano Romano, approx. 1 hour 10 minutes drive from Rome, with a town center that dates back at least to the Roman age. From the medieval Colonna tower, on top, you'll have a nice panoramic view of the countryside around. Olevano is famous for the cuisine and especially the red wine: "cesanese di Olevano". watch video


8: Guadagnolo, approx. 1 hour drive from Rome, is the highest inhabited center of the entire Latium region, located on top of the Prenestini mountains. Few dozens of old residents -it's almost a ghost town-, there are beautiful panoramic views, and the beautiful Mentorella sanctuary is just 1 km from the town. watch video


9: Collepardo, approx. 1 hour 20 minutes drive from Rome, is a little jewel town in the Ciociaria region, this borgo is surrounded by many very interesting places, like the gorgeous certosa di Trisulti abbey, and the Antullo caves. But just the center of Collepardo itself is lovely, and really deserves a visit. watch video


10: Segni, approx. 1 hour drive from Rome, is a picturesque town on the Lepini mountains that I know super well: my grandparents live here, and in my childhood I had a family lunch almost every sunday in Segni. Famous for the production of marroni chestnuts, Segni has a beautiful cathedral, cyclopean walls, and a fascinating ancient center. watch video


More picturesque towns near Rome: if these 10 are not enough, consider that there are many more beautiful and picturesque towns in the surroundings of Rome. Central Italy is full of these little jewels that not many people know, waiting to be discovered.

As additional recommendations I would add: Pitigliano, it takes a longer trip -2 hours 10 minutes- but it's wonderful. Sperlonga, on the south coast, is a popular destination in summer for beach lovers, but the town center is great to visit in any season. Then there's Arpino in the Ciociaria region, Fumone with its castle, and Alatri. Sutri near Viterbo. Lenola at the south is very picturesque, and Prossedi is lovely too. watch videos

The list can be very long...! Post a comment if you want more recommendations, have questions, or think some other towns deserve to be in this list.


042 Notes: Updated last time on February 11, 2016.

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