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Rome City Break

Rome could probably be considered the world’s greatest outdoor museum and it makes a fabulous city break. However, the rest of the region, Lazio, offers picturesque hilltop towns like Tarquinia (Italy’s oldest city), lakes and thermal spas, ancient roads leading to Palazzi showcasing opulent gardens.

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Rome’s Top Sights

It is unsurprising that holidays to Rome have always been popular; this city of romance was the birthplace of la dolce vita and, as everyone knows, was not built in a day – and it has enough monuments to last the average sightseer a lifetime.

Rome city breaks include a host of sights that are not to be missed, such as St Peter’s and the Sistine Chapel, the Forum where Caesar once trod, and the extraordinarily well-preserved Pantheon. Also you mustn’t miss the capital’s symbol and the largest surviving structure from Roman antiquity, the peerless Coliseum. Then, of course, are the relatively unsung museums that have opened in the last decade, such as the Palazzo Massimo alle Terme and the Palazzo Altemps.

If it all gets too much, you can cool off in a fountain-splashed piazza over a long, cool drink; don’t forget to toss two coins over your shoulder into the spectacular Trevi Fountain – one for a personal wish, the second to guarantee your return to the Eternal City.

Rome for History Lovers

A city break to Rome are ideal for history lovers, who will find themselves sated with the past when they visit the Lazio region. Long before the Roman Empire was even a glimmer in the eye of Augustus, the northern part of this land was dominated by the proud Etruscans. Although cultured and voyeuristic they left few traces of their lives, but their deaths are recorded in the grassy tumulus tombs, which are celebrations of life itself. Tarquinia was probably the capital of the Etruscans, whose glory now lies in its vivid tomb paintings. Nearby, the necropolis at Cerveteri is composed of many ‘streets’ of stone tombs.

Roman ruins in Rome, Italy

Roman ruins in Rome, Italy

Lazio Countryside

A Rome city break should not be limited to the historic city centre, however. Wealthy Romans have always loved sojourns in their Lazio countryside villas. Tivoli and the slopes of the Sabine Hills long been favourite retreats. Visit the theatrical water features of the pleasure palace Villa d’Este, and the waterside remains of Hadrian’s country retreat, Villa Adriana, the Roman Emperor’s former luxurious palace – fountains and mythological statuary were erected to soothe and delight in the beautiful gardens. Any Rome city break must include a day trip – or even a couple of days – to these well preserved gems.

Italy’s Best-preserved Roman Towns

Rome city breaks can include sensational visits to the remains of the city’s original main port at Ostia Antica, which gives a fascinating insight into one of Italy’s best-preserved Roman towns, complete with exquisite mosaics and architecture. Originally settled on the coast, Ostia Antica is 20 miles south of Rome and takes its name from the Latin ‘ostium’, meaning mouth, referring to its position at the mouth of the Tiber River. The peaceful, grassy ruins sprawl over a vast area of Lazio in a timeless evocation of the past, interrupted only by the buzz of crickets in the trees. Less celebrated and crowded than Herculaneum or Pompeii, Ostia Antica more than rivals its sister cities and should not be missed on the itinerary of a Rome city break.

On the coast, Sperlonga is a favourite summer retreat of the Lazio region, with two long, sandy beaches overlooked by the medieval town on top of a promontory. Further south, offshore between Rome and Naples, is the Isole Pontine, as well as the hilly and verdant Ponza Island, whose verdant landscape is studded with limestone cliffs and grottoes.

Wine Tours

Any holidays to Rome are an excellent opportunity to take advantage of fantastic wine tours. The rich fertile soil of Lazio is good vine country; 13 wine villages in the region, known as the Castelli Romani, were traditionally sited on the outer rims of the extinct volcanic craters of the Albani Hills. The most famous of these is Frascati, well known for its crisp white wine. Only 15 miles southeast of Rome, holidays to the city should include a visit to the Pope’s summer palace, the Castel Gandolfo, from where he gives an address from the balcony on Sundays when he is in residence.

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Top Tips

What to see

Lazio holidays offer the opportunity to see fabulous mannerist interiors at Palazzo Farnese, in Caprarola (Viterbo), once the summer home of Pope Paul III.
Tip from Italian Country Cottages.

On Rome holidays, the best view of the city is from via di Monte Tarpeo behind the Campidoglio. Views over the Forum and Coliseum are best enjoyed at sunset.
Tip from Italian Country Cottages.

What to drink

All holidays to Rome should include a visit to Enoteca Corsi on Via Gesu', one of Rome's last original trattorias.
Tip from Italian Country Cottages.

Etruscan Necropolis at Tarquinia

On a hilltop just outside the Lazio town of Tarquinia are the painted Etruscan burial chambers that inspired DH Lawrence to write what was to be his final, most heartfelt travelogue, Sketches of Etruscan Places. Although there are more than 6,000 tombs, only about 15 are open to visitors each day. The wall paintings depict scenes of dancing, music, feasting and sex.

An exploration of Lazio should also a visit to see the pair of winged horses from the pediment of a Tarquinian temple, one of the greatest Etruscan masterpieces ever discovered. (Adults €8, children €4)

Baroque Festival in Viterbo, Lazio

The Baroque Festival (Festival Barocco) is one of the most important events in the Italian and international music scene using original instruments. Holidays to Rome can be a real treat for music lovers if they plan a trip to coincide with this event, with Viterbo only a little over an hour’s drive from Rome. The festival takes place on some of the city's most charming natural stages from August till October.