Rome, the Eternal City, has a lot to offer visitors with a massive history, stunning architecture, and of course mouthwatering food. However, if you want a break from hustle of the city, or are looking for a great day trip from Rome, then look no further. Here are 8 incredible small towns near Rome, Italy that are perfect for an afternoon trip or a long weekend! Be sure to check out my guide to three days in Rome so you can see a lot in a small amount of time!
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Recommended by Annalisa of Travel Connect Experience
Calcata Vecchia is located 50 km north of Rome in the direction of the city of Viterbo. The village of medieval architecture stands on a high cliff of volcanic rock surrounded by canyons full of vegetation, the landscape is mesmerizing, you will wonder if you are in Europe or Southeast Asia. Past the arch carved with coats of arms of ancient families, you enter an exclusively medieval area where a few hundred people live. The atmosphere you breathe is that of a community, where everyone knows everyone and everyone is ready to welcome new visitors. What makes Calcata Vecchia different from the other picturesque villages in the area are its inhabitants, almost all artists or artisans.
Calcata in the first decades of the 20th century was completely abandoned, because its ancient structures, deprived of maintenance were at risk of collapse. During the 1960s, artists who traveled to Italy from other parts of the world discovered this village and repopulated it, giving it new life. Today, walking through the alleys and panoramic terraces, you can explore the artists’ workshops and get to know them. Beneath the medieval architecture lies a much older layer of caves dug into the tuff by pre-Roman civilizations.
Being a tiny village, you’ll have time to explore it from top to bottom. Stop by and taste the cookies baked in the wood-fired oven at the “Dolci per i dolci” bakery, and for dinner choose a place with a view of the valley like the “Grotta dei Germogli”, from whose terrace you can hear the sound of the river flowing.
To reach Calcata Vecchia use a private car. Cars must be left in the free parking lot outside the village, which you will then reach with a walk of about half an hour.
Civita Di Bagnoregio
Recommended by Naomi of Probe Around the Globe
Civita Di Bagnoregio is the old town, close to (modern) Bagnoregio and not far from Orvieto. You can reach it when you drive from Rome to Florence, or take a tour to visit the area and include Civita Di Bagnoregio and Orvieto.
Civita Di Bagnoregio is one of the most famous and spectacular hill-top villages in Italy. It is only accessible via a long footbridge. And the views of the village are marvelous. It looks like a bunch of brick-a-brack houses are just dumped on the nearest hillside, across a green fern overgrown valley.
Once you pass the footbridge and take a million Instagram-worthy shots of Civita Di Bagnoregio, you’ll enter the town. A decaying town square with the dominant church and lovely flowers. You can roam around the village, observe the historic buildings or just amuse yourself by looking at the hordes of tourists flooding the town square. I strongly recommend having an early or late lunch date at Civita Di Bagnoregio. My recommendation would be to try to get a table at La Cantina di Arianna, with a wood-burning oven and amazing local dishes.
As you stroll across the long bridge, back to the modern world, don’t forget to look back at Civita Di Bagnoregio and her amazing location! For more road trip stops, check out this 7-day itinerary from Rome.
Recommended by Dhara of Not About the Miles
Orvieto is one of the must-visit small towns near Rome, and one day in Orvieto will allow you to take in the major sights. A charming hill town perched on top of volcanic rock in Umbria, Orvieto offers commanding views of the surrounding countryside.
In Orvieto, start by exploring the beautiful Duomo, the most-visited sight in the town. It has a spectacular facade, with golden mosaics and a lovely rose window. The bronze doors are gorgeous. Inside you will find marvelous frescoes, created by a number of Italian masters.
Another unique attraction in Orvieto is a tour of the underground. The hour-long tour allows you to explore the subterranean remains of the Etruscan civilization that flourished here long ago.
Also do not miss climbing to the bottom of the Pozzo di San Patrizio: the historic well has dual staircases to allow for pack animal traffic in both directions.
Wandering around the town of Orvieto is perhaps one of the most fun things you can do here. Orvieto is famous for its ceramic stores, so if you love shopping, make sure you allow for time to browse some of the stores.
Orvieto is easily accessed by train from Rome. From the train station at the bottom of the hill, take the funicular to the top, and then either walk into the town or take a local bus to the piazza where the Duomo is located.
Recommended by Martina of Places of Juma
One of the most beautiful small towns to visit in Italy is Pienza in Tuscany. For many, this tiny historic village and the beautiful landscapes around are a highlight of any Tuscany tour. Here you will find the pure, magical romantic: The old town knowns as the “perfect city of the Renaissance” and the endless rolling fields, dreamlike viewpoints, and picturesque cypress avenues, here you will experience the real Tuscany, which is otherwise only known from travel magazines.
Interesting is, that since 1996 Pienza and its historic center are on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites due to its special renaissance architecture. During a walk through the city you will discover countless pretty squares and historical buildings. In any case don`t miss to visit the famous monuments such as the imposing Town Hall and the beautiful Palace Palazzo Piccolomini, which are open to public as museums. And not to forget the breathtaking Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta that is located in the center and is one of Pienzas landmarks.
Theere many fantastic restaurants inviting you to take a sightseeing break. You will find them directly at the main square Piazzo Pio II but also inside the hidden romantic side streets! Especially famous is Pienza for its delicious Pecorino cheese. The historic city of Pienza is one of the best small villages near Rome to visit!
Recommended by Me of The Directionally Challenged Traveler
An archaeological goldmine, the city of Pompeii will amaze any visitor. Even though I’m not a history or archaeology person, I was captivated walking through the ruins. While this is probably the furthest small town near Rome (about 150 miles south), it’s still worth a day trip. You can do a guided day tour from Rome, or take a fast high-speed train between Rome and Naples.
Located in the Campania region of Italy, the posh villas and elegant houses that were once here were ruined and buried during the 79 A.D. eruption of Mount Vesuvius. This UNESCO World Heritage site is visited by millions of travelers each year and for good reason. Walking the cobblestone streets is literally walking through history.
Be sure to explore the Forum, near the Temple of Jupiter. It’s the principal square of a Roman town, and you can visit many of the town’s essential services – including the food hall (Macellum), a hall for seling wool, and the Curia, where the town council met. Get an awesome view of the city and Mount Vesuvius from the top row of the Teatro Grande (or Large Theater). This is also one of the first stone theaters built by Romans!
A day trip to Pompeii is a must-do when in Italy. It’s one of the best small towns near Rome due to the history impeccably preserved.
Recommended by Sarah of In Search of Sarah
If you’re searching for one of Italy’s most beautiful towns to visit, look no further than Positano. This seaside town sits nestled along the side of the cliff in a storybook-like setting along the Amalfi Coast.
There is plenty to do in this picturesque town, from incredible restaurants and sweeping views of the Meditterean Sea. From visiting ceramic and linen shops, visiting markets, or catching some sun on the beach, Positano is easily one of the prettiest places to visit in Italy.
Franco’s Bar is a must-visit. This lounge has stunning views of the mountainside and delicious cocktails. An incredible dining experience not to be missed is at La Tagliata. This family-run farm above Positano provides free transportation and a seven course meal with endless flowing wine for just €40 per person. Every food item served is grown or raised on the property.
For the adventurous, the Path of the Gods is a 6.5 km hike along the cliff top and will take you all the way over to Bomerano.
There are a few options on how to get to Positano. The easiest and quickest (but more costly option) is by car and the drive there is a thrill in itself! You can also take the train to Naples and take the ferry. There is no direct ferry to Positano, so you will have to stop in Sorrento on the way. There are bus routes also available.
There is no bad view from this town no matter where you are. There are numerous Airbnb properties and hotels to pick from. Book early, because this is a popular place to visit, especially for honeymooners! You couldn’t ask for a more romantic small town near Rome.
Soriano Nel Cimino
Recommended by Claudia of Strictly Rome
If you are visiting Rome for 4 days or more, one of the best things to do is to get out of town for a day or two to explore the surrounding areas. Most travelers head to popular places such as Ostia Antica or Civita di Bagnoregio; some travel as far as Naples and Pompeii. Yet, there are many other places in the surroundings of Rome that are worth visiting.
Soriano Nel Cimino, at about 1.5 hours drive from Rome in the triangle where Lazio, Tuscany, and Umbria meet, is a real gem that has yet to be discovered by mass tourism. Though you can get there by train, you are definitely better off renting a car so that you can also enjoy the scenic hills – known as “rupi.” Set near a thick chestnut forest in the Cimini Mountains and already inhabited in Etruscan times, Soriano’s main landmark is the Orsini Castle, a 13th-century castle that you can spot from a distance as it stands proud on top of a hill among the houses of the historic center. The Castle was built by Pope Orsini as a summer residence.
Other places to visit are Palazzo Chigi-Albani, a beautiful example of renaissance art and architecture; St. Nicholas Cathedral and St. George temple, which is a bit outside of town.
If you are visiting during the summer, the Faggeta forest is a nice place for a walk and for some fresh air – it’s a UNESCO site!
Hotel Eremo is one of the best in Soriano. Alternatively, this Airbnb is one of the nicest places in the center. For the best food in town, go to I Tre Scalini in the main square. Baita la Faggeta, in the Faggeta forest, is a fantastic restaurant in an idyllic setting. Be sure not to miss out on this incredible small town near Rome!
Recommended by Elaina of Mind Over Matter Travel
Tivoli is the perfect destination to escape Rome for the day. This small, historic town is a hidden gem nestled by the Sabine Hills just 30 kilometers (19 miles) from Rome. Quickly access the town with about an hour-long bus or train ride from Rome for less than €5 each way. Although small, Tivoli is not lacking in things to do. Discover nature, gardens, architecture, and history all rolled into one charming city. Historically, Tivoli was a summer retreat for the wealthy including emperors, poets, popes, cardinals, and other notable figures. As such, there are plenty of extravagant villas to explore. Three of the most noteworthy villas include the following:
- Villa D’Este: known for its fresco paintings, luscious gardens, and ancient fountains
- Villa Adriana: know for its historic ruins
- Villa Gregoriana: known for its nature, lush scenery, and flowing waterfalls.
Don’t forget to refuel at the ever-so-popular Ristorante Sibilla, the oldest restaurant in Tivoli. Located next to Villa Gregoriana, this restaurant provides a great atmosphere and delicious food. While this is an easy day trip from Rome, there are some accommodations available if you want to experience Tivoli for multiple days. There aren’t many hotels in the city center, but B&Bs provide a great alternative. Don’t miss this perfect small town getaway from the hustle and bustle of Rome!