So, we finally have a Pope. The world was surprised…
In the outskirts of Rome, there are a number of interesting small towns with an amazing history and incredibile beauty to offer to those who wish to see more than just the basic, â€œobligatoryâ€? sights in the Rome city itself.
Before the growth of the Roman Republic and then Empire, the area around Rome was inhabited by the Etruscans, who have left behind many signs of their highly evolved culture and society. Some of their heritage can be admired in Cerveteri, a small town that hosts a huge Etruscan necropolis with more than 400 tombs of the 8th-2nd century BC., disposed in the form of a â€œcity of the deadâ€?. The most interesting objects found in the tombs are now hosted in the Museum of Villa Giulia in Rome, but the necropolis is definitely worth seeing, being a beautiful enchanted place. To get there, take a bus from the metro-A station of Lepanto and then walk form the center of Cerveteri, which, by the way, is also worth visiting.
Another town of Etruscan origin, Viterbo, has a beautiful medieval old-town, mostly of 12th-14th century, and is known as the â€œCity of Popesâ€?, having offered refuge to many a medieval pope during the frequent political conflicts. Some of the main attractions are the Cathedral of San Lorenzo, tha Palazoo dei Papi, the Villa Lante di Bagniaia with its marvellous garden and of course the city center itself with its narrow streets and the atmosphere of times long gone. From Rome you can get to Viterbo by train: from Rome Termini or Ostiense stations itâ€™ll take about an hour and a half.
Tivoli is yet another beautiful smalltown about 1 hour drive from Rome, with a COTRAL bus leaving from the metro-B Ponte Mammolo station. The ancient town, located on the Aniene river, was under the influence of Rome as early as 4th century BC, and flourished again in the Middle Ages, under Frederik Barbarossa. The main attraction today are the 16th century Villa dâ€™Este of the cardinal dâ€™Este, the Roman amphitheatre, the beautiful Villa Gregoriana with itâ€™s waterfall, and the ruins of the ancient Villa Adriana, the palace of the emperor Hadrian, outside the city center.
If you want nothing too complicated and not too far away, you can always go to the sea: in the summer the whole city seems to move over to the beaches of Ostia, and in the winter time you can enjoy in peace and quiet the storming seaâ€¦ And of course, the whole â€œLungomareâ€?, that is the road coasting the sea, is crowded with restaurants specialised in seafood! Going to Ostia couldnâ€™t be easier: first take the metro line B to Piramide and then just switch for the train for â€œLido di Ostiaâ€?. Get off at Ostia centro or Stella Polare and itâ€™s just a few steps to the sea!
To do some exploring itâ€™s good to stay in a centrally located hotel, such as the brand new Yes Hotel near the Termini station, or the already well-known Hotel or Hostel Des Artistes, both close to the station as well.