We’re in the midst of organizing our first family European trip, which is great fun. After all, your trip starts the minute you begin planning it! I’ve always loved Rome, so I know the Colosseum, Vatican, and lesser-known stops like the Mercato Testaccio will be on the itinerary. However, I also know my favorite way of experiencing the Eternal City (which consisted of multiple days of city touring and lots of pizza and wine) will need adjusting. This time around, we’ll eat just as much pizza, but will also head outside the city to see more of the Roman and Tuscan countryside. Below, read our top four Roman day trip picks, and how to get to them.
Sabine Hills (Sabina):
For a good dose of walled cities, medieval architecture, and quintessentially Italian rolling hillsides, head to Sabina. Olive trees dot the countryside, as do monasteries and Renaissance palaces. I’ve toured an olive oil production here, but I know my kids would rather poke around in the ancient walled villages of Toffia or Farfa, or hike along the worn trails of Monti Lucretili National Park.
Start in Fara Sabina, either by train or car. A direct train departs every 15 minutes from stations in Rome to Fara Sabina-Montelibretti Station. This will take about 45 minutes, and then families will need to transfer to bus to tour other villages. If you rent a car in Italy, you’ll have more freedom to explore. Take the Rome-Florence (A1) motorway to Fiano Romano exit, then follow signs to Rieti and Fara Sabina.
Appia Antica (Old Appian Way):
One of my favorite sights in Italy, and located just outside the city limits of Rome, Old Appian Way is an ancient, narrow road leading to the catacombs of the Eternal City. A visit outside the walls of Rome is really valuable for kids: they can visually learn exactly how the gates would open and shut, and see where the dead were once buried. Is it creepy? Sure! But not as much as I thought it would be. Definitely take a catacombs tour (most are lead on the hour in Italian and English, with other languages getting a few per day), then plan to stay for the afternoon picnicking in the pretty countryside along the road.
No need for a car for this day trip. Take bus 218 from San Giovanni Metro stop. Start with the biggest and most extensive catacombs, St. Callixtus. Families can see the crypt of nine popes here, and excellent examples of early Christian art. Buy tour tickets at the entrance. From here, it’s possible to walk along the road, but it’s very narrow (and walled), so when we go as a family, I plan to take the bus from stop to stop along Old Appian Way.
To show kids what Renaissance villas really looked like, a day trip to Tivoli is a must. Only about 35 km from Rome, Tivoli is home to both Villa d’Este, located in the Piazza Trento, and Hadrian’s Villa. It’s easy to tour both via the bus system that connects them. Villas d’Este’s gardens utilize an innovative water irrigation system parents can point out to kids; there are 500 fountains alone. Families can take a tour through Viator, or visit on their own.
If you’re driving, it’s an easy commute from Rome via the S5 to Tivoli. There’s train service from Rome’s Tiburtina station as well.
Yes, families can get to Florence and the greater Tuscany region as a day trip from Rome, though it will certainly take all day. Spend time perusing Italy’s finest collection of Renaissance art at Galleria degli Uffizi, but definitely buy tickets online in advance. Then give kids a break from museums and architecture by spending time at the Ponte Vecchio, Florence’s first bridge, and Campanile, the bell tower in Piazza del Duomo.
The fastest (but most expensive) way to get to Florence from Rome is on the fast train, then walking to the historic center, but we plan to drive a rental car, which is three hours up the A1.
This post was done in partnership with Enterprise Rent-a-Car but they had no input on the content. All opinions are my own.