The town of Civita di Bagnoregio as taken from a distance with bridge and tufa cliffs

5 Best Day Trips from Rome by Train

One of the best parts of visiting Italy is that you can get nearly anywhere by train. With this affordable travel option, you don’t have to worry about renting a vehicle and navigating a foreign country or waiting around in airports. Rome is the ideal home base for visiting Italy. Here are five of the best day trips you can take from Rome by train.

 

Florence

You can’t go to Italy without visiting the cradle of the Renaissance. The ancient city of Florence, also known as Firenze, is the reigning city of the Tuscan region and home to incredible architecture, wondrous art, and unbelievable dining. While you can see plenty in one day, it’s worth renting one of the romantic Florence homes and taking your time. Whether with a tour guide or not, you won’t want to miss Galleria dell’Accademia, where you can see Michaelangelo’s David on display. Visit Piazza del Duomo, the iconic red-domed cathedral that makes Florence so recognizable in pictures. Explore the markets, enjoy the atmosphere, and take the two-hour train ride back to Rome when you’re done.

Palazzo Vecchio in Florence

Orvieto

Orvieto is just a quick train ride from Rome, making it an ideal destination for a day trip out of the city. This small town is just a taste of the beauty Umbria has to offer, with sweeping rooftop views of the hills below. Orvieto is home to many small restaurants with authentic regional cuisine. There’s also an elaborate cave system to explore underground if you’re looking for a break from the usual tourist sites. As this town doesn’t have as many of the world-famous wonders Italy is known for, it’s a great escape from the tourist-heavy hustle and bustle.

Exterior of the Duomo of Orvieto
The jaw-dropping Cathedral of Orvieto

Tivoli

Tivoli is a hidden gem that’s less than an hour away from Rome by train. Visit the stunning villas in the area with ancient architecture and incredible gardens that make you feel as though you’ve traveled through time. Villa d’Este is a World Heritage Site and boasts impressive fountains and water installations that set it apart from the other elegant villas throughout Italy. Hadrian’s Villa boasts breathtaking ruins of the Roman empire. With towering columns and ornate stonework, you’ll love walking through the abandoned archways of this once-majestic estate. While not so far from Rome, however, the best way to visit Tivoli is still by car, because Hadrian’s villa is not so close to Tivoli City Center. You might want to consider booking a private Tivoli tour from Rome by car, with a driver and a tour guide at your disposal.

 

One of Villa d’Este fountains in Tivoli

Naples

Head to Naples for a longer, more involved day trip from Rome. Pair some of the world’s most splendid art with some of Italy’s best pizza. Neapolitan pizza is made with tomatoes and fresh mozzarella, similar to its sister-pizza, the Margherita. While in Naples, venture over to the ruins of Pompeii and learn about the rise and fall of this ancient city. Then, head down to Sorrento to tour a small, ancient town with incredible marketplaces and views. Sip a refreshing limoncello cocktail and purchase a lemon-branded souvenir to remember your trip. While the train ride to Naples is only about an hour and a half from Rome, there’s so much to see and do that you can expect to be gone for twelve hours. If you need a tour guide in Naples, consider booking an expert one.

Tour of Mount Vesuvius with the Bay and sea in foreground
View of the Vesuvius from Naples

Pisa

You can’t leave Italy without taking in the splendor of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Named for the town in which it stands, the tower is a spectacle to behold, especially when lit up in the evenings. Pisa is a quaint city where no more than a day of touring is required, which is great since it’s a two-hour train ride. Don’t just get caught up in the tower though; Pisa has lovely shops and restaurants worth exploring. Additionally, as Pisa is one of the oldest cities in Italy, there are Medieval churches and plenty of museums worth experiencing. Planning a trip to Italy can feel overwhelming. There’s so much to see and never enough time to do it all in one trip. However, the country is set up for easy traveling. Set a home base, hop a train, and traverse this incredible part of the world.

The so-called Square of Miracles in Pisa

 

La Befana

Italian Traditions and Holidays: La Befana

What is your favorite part of Christmas?  Getting gifts, giving gifts, decorating the street, Christmas songs, Christmas sweaters (no you did not say you enjoy them, haha), or hanging your stocking near the fireplace.  I grew up on the North East Coast and it was tradition to light a fire and after the tree was all decorated, we kids each picked a spot on the fireplace where we were sure Santa could fill our stocking to the max.  Now I live in Italy and there is something very different about Christmas Stocking and it includes a Witch!

If you know anything about Italy, one thing you know for sure is there are lots of Holidays, most related to something holy and so is Befana… somehow.  January 6th is in the Catholic Religion called the Epiphany.  Epiphany commemorates the first two occasions of Jesus’s divinity which according to Christian belief, was for Western Christianity when the three kings (also known as wise men or Magi or three wise men) visited infant Jesus in Bethlehem with gifts.  The second, according to Eastern Christianity is when Jesus baptized John the Baptist baptized in the River Jordan.  The day is also known as the Three Kings Day.

Here in Italy, it also represents the day of Befana, who is an old woman who delivers gifts (mainly chocolate) to children throughout Italy on Epiphany Eve if they were good, if not they get a lump of coal, just as Santa does on Christmas Eve.  Some claim she sweeps the floor before she leaves as a symbol to sweep away the previous year’s problems.  My mom used to have a kitchen witch which looked identical to Befana. 

A recent movie was produced about la Befana to watch with your kids!

As we in America leave milk and cookies for Santa, Italian tradition is to leave some wine.  I think there was a time my dad left Whiskey for Santa, only as older children, we realized find my father adored whiskey.  There are many stories around La Befana.  Have you ever seen the “little drummer boy”? Maybe with that one, I am dating myself, but the Romans kill the lamb of a peasant boy and he follows “the star” to Bethlehem to ask for a miracle.  He was without a gift and so played a song for baby Jesus and the lamb is resurrected.  Such a great Christmas story, I do not know if it even exists anymore, but there is a story about La Befana that is similar. 

Another Christian legend takes a slightly darker tone as La Befana was an ordinary woman with a child whom she greatly loved. However, her child died, and her resulting grief maddened her. Upon hearing news of Jesus being born, she set out to see him, delusional that he was her son. She eventually met Jesus and presented him with gifts to make him happy. The infant Jesus was delighted, and he gave La Befana a gift in return; she would be the mother of every child in Italy.

I guess I was a good “boy” this year as I did get a stocking full of Italian Chocolate and it made me smile.  I have the pleasure of living in Italy, but I would recommend that whoever is reading this, don’t just think of Italy as a summer destination, there are so many traditions throughout the year which make the country amazing which leaves you with an authentic experience. Did you get anything from Befana? A recent movie was produced about la Befana to watch with your kids!

There are many interesting songs and filastrocche about Befana. One of the most famous is “La Befana Vien di Notte” (The Befana Comes at Night).

Think of Italy as an all-year destination, see it in all its different personalities.  Let Italy surprise you and if you are a good boy or girl, maybe Befana will bring you chocolate next year.