Orvieto is a popular day trip to one of the Umbrian hill towns from Rome. I stopped there for a few hours on my drive from Assisi to Sorrento. I wished I'd had a night to stay....a few hours was not nearly enough to see everything.
Hi Rbfan and Nhm,
Orvieto looks really neat. Nhm always finds and visits the best places. I wish we could've stopped there on our way to Rome from Florence. Perhaps someday.
We did a day trip to Frascati. Frascati is a hill town in the Lazio region of central Italy and is a short drive from Rome. It's also known for it's white wine. The architecture there doesn't seem as exciting as the photos of Orvieto, but we really had a fun yet brief little respite in this small hilltown outside of Rome.
I did a photo album of Frascati for you Rbfan. Take a look: http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/photoAlbums/1424
Here are some ideas, all of which I've been to:
Assisi and Orvieto together on a good tour (Assisi is a ways, but one of the most beautiful cities in the world); Orvieto is great and has excellent wine.
Viterbo, which can be reached from the suburban rail lines and is full of history (and beautiful hills and castles)
Tivoli Gardens and the castle of Hadrian
Right at the end of the Roman metro, an ancient site, Rome's port city in antiquity, Ostia Antica is great.
And Naples is only a little over an hour away by train, meaning Vesuvius, Pompeii etc.
All good recommendations! We will be in Rome in April and Tivoli Gardens and Ostia Antica are on our list. We have been to Assisi and it is beautiful. My wife has been to Orvieto. Our latest thing is to go into a city and, with the exception of a possible day trip, stay there and really dig in. Did a week last August in Paris, a week mostly in Ghent Belgium this April and next is Rome. Have been there a few other times, but usually head elsewhere after 3-4 days. So, this time, we will be looking for the lesser known sites and off the beaten path markets and restaurants.
Visited Montepulchiano for the first time in 2011. Absolutely stunning views. Had a fabulous lunch, sitting outside. Toured one of the wineries down inside the mountain. Wish we had more time that day. It and Siena are a bit of a haul for a day trip, but if you are game, they are nice ones.
We stayed in Perugia, following our day in Assisi. When we left, we stopped in a store, got some meats, cheeses, fruit, bread and wine for lunch and stopped along Lake Trasimeno, on the way to Seine, for a nice lakeside lunch. Then walked around Passignano Sul Trasimeno. It is a lake resort town, however because we were there in late October / early November, it was pretty much abandoned. Was nice to walk around without a million tourists (like us). I love traveling in the fall. Italy was wonderful that time of year, as was Paris. No crowds, no lines and the weather can be fantastic. I have no problem wearing a sweater or jacket if it means I can walk around, in and out of places at my leisure, with no lines or fees. Also, the locals seem far more mellow, because the tourists are mostly gone and they have had their holiday. Didn't mean to highjack the string.
Pompeii would be my first choice by far; if you're willing to do a long day tour it can sometimes be combined with a ferry trip to Capri. I'd skip Naples, however. Both times I've been there I just wanted to get out of there. Another possibility, it depends on whether it's a tour or you're driving (I will NOT drive in Italy). If a tour you can see both Assisi and Orvieto.
I would not recommend a day tour to Florence, because there is so much to see (plus travel time) that you could only scratch the surface.
You can find good local food just about anywhere in Italy. All of the suggestions in this thread are spot on as far as visiting some memorable and worthy locales: Orvieto, Assisi, Tivoli (two UNESCO sites), Ostia, all sound fantastic and solidly/expertly recommended. Google them, then pick one. You can't go wrong. Pompeii of course is an excellent choice too, though a bit farther. I think I have an idea after getting to know you through all of your postings what Mrs. Harada likes (not greatly 'in' to the historical stuff), and I know you will be covering a lot of territory on this trip, and towards the end of a trip, it can be nice to sort of wind down (though I think you will be running around enough as it is just to see the most worthy attractions that Rome has to offer, as it is your first visit, yes? and there are lots of good dining options there as well).
Also what mode of transportation are you looking at for a day trip? Car hire independent excursion, private guide/car hire, bus tour, etc.?
I know we've talked about driving before. I am quite comfortable driving in Italy, but to each his/her own.
Thanks & pluto77 for the great info!
Pluto, you are right. Mrs. doesn't care much for history! I'm embarrassed to say she gave me a blank look when I told her I wanted to see Brandenburg Gate in Berlin...
Anyway, this is our first time to Italy, yes, and we are both in love with Italian food! Especially pasta! Hadn't thought about a car hire, but I definitely won't drive. My original plan was to just catch a train to one of the locales, but am open to other recommendations. We're trying to keep costs down though. Thanks again you guys!
Here is some train info from Rome to Pompeii. As for food recommendations, the best recommendations often come from the locals themselves (not the hotel concierge). Ask the taxi driver or the person sitting next to you on the local train where they like to eat.
To Pompeii By train
On the Circumvesuviana Napoli-Sorrento line it takes 30 to 40 minutes to get to Pompeii from Naples. Click on the station where you want to get the train in this timetable . It should cost €1,80 to €3,20. Get off at "Pompei Scavi". At the station, you can leave your bags for €1,50 (collect by 7:00PM in summer, 6:00PM October to February), or leave them for free at the ruins (pick up by 7:20PM). The entrance to Pompeii is about 50m away from the station and there's a Tourist Information office further down the street. If you get off at "Pompei Sanctuario," instead of "Pompei Scavi," the walk through town is not very far; it's tiring but worthwhile.
Be careful of hucksters and scheisters in the Naples train station. Don't accept help from anyone who offers. If you need help, ask for it from someone wearing an official uniform at the train station or behind a ticket window.
Thanks for the great info Pluto!!
Honestly, Naples is fading from the list fast. I hear a lot of scary/negative about it, so yeah... Never heard of Orvieto, but it looks amazing! And if I'm not mistaken, it's part of Umbria? But Florence would be amazing... I mean, Tuscany! What a dream, even it only for a few hours. But that's the downfall too... I think it was 1.5 hours each way? Though Orvieto is still over an hour by train too. Pompeii is interesting too, though I'm not sure the wife would care much for that... We'll see I guess. I have a little more time to think about it
Unless you're never planning to go to Italy again, I'd still save Florence. You just can see even a small portion of it in one day. Orvieto and Assisi are both in Umbria, and both spectacular -- and doable.
I also don't ever want to go back to Naples. I purposely did it via tour bus rather than train partially to avoid the train station in Naples and because once in Pompeii I told the tour guide I wanted to do it all on my own since I was a historian and had been there before. She had no problem with that and it didn't cost much more than all the train tickets would have.
If you want regional, local cuisine, Roman food is some of our favorite.
Taverna Romana - Via della Madonna dei Monti, 79, 00184 Rome, Italy
On an alley, a half block north of Via Cavour, about two blocks east of Via del Fori Imperiali. (VERY short walk from the Forum and the Colosseum.) Wonderful place run by a couple, serving very simple Roman food mostly to locals.
At 18 and 19 Via del Governo Vecchio, is Da Tonino Navona. Also, very local cuisine frequented by locals. This is a tough place to find because the numbers jump all around as you are heading down this alley. From the southwest corner of Piazza Navona, walk west down the alley. Continue winding down the alley for about 3 mins walk. It will be on your right. It is a white stuccoed building, five stories tall, with four arched doorways on the ground level, and is directly across the street from a large beige colored brick building that occupies about two blocks, as it rounds the corner.
There are many others like this. Enjoy!
San Gimignano, famous for its towers, and north of Siena, is a healthy day trip - better to plan overnight stay there to enjoy the fascinations of this walled town and Tuscan countryside. If you've never seen the movie, "Tea with Mussolini", it was partially filmed here (a true story also). Of course, Siena, site of opening scene in one of latest James Bond movies, is quite nice and closer to Rome, and you could also take in Montalcino and Montepulchiano
.....Photo from this hillside town - all of these three places also are famous for their particular varietal wines.
We actually took a half day guided tour to Ostia Antica. We were very pleased with our Dark Rome Tour. Our guide met us at the Piramide train stop and the group rode together. Our guide was knowlegeable and presented the information in an appealing way. At the close of the tour, you could continue to the beach or return to Rome with the guide. According to the Rick Steves guidebook, "Ostia is often called Rome's first colony. Its main industry was salt (used to preserve meat). It also served as a naval base, protecting Rome from invasion by river. When Rome fell and the river changed course, the port was abandoned, silted up, became a malaria-infested swamp, and was eventually forgotten. The mud that buried Ostia actually protected it from the ravages of time and stone-scavenging medieval peasants."
I heartily endorse Siena (which I like much better than Florence, despite the latter's delights), and if you plan to go there, please let me know because there are some musts. San Gimignano is very cool, but you would need an overnight to accommodate both.
If your wife is not interested in history, Ostia Antica might not be the right choice. I think it's amazing (Rome's Pompeii, its seaport to the Mediterranean and quite well preserved), but it is an archaeological site. Siena is closer than Florence so it makes more sense and it's a smaller city (but a truly great one). Is there any possibility you could add a day or two to your trip?
Thanks guys! Lots of great info!
profchiara, I'm hoping to get back to Italy, but we'll see...
I think my two preferred options are now Orvieto and Siena. Unfortunately there isn't a way for us to extend the trip. Too many other reservations (including some stupidly pre-paid) will be affected. Which would you recommend. I'm not familiar with either of these.
Siena without any doubt. It's a 'little big city' so it's doable in a day. It's gorgeous both physically and historically. I think even if your wife doesn't care about history, you must go in the Duomo or cathedral, which is much more spectacular than the one Florence, and make sure to go into the Piccolomini library inside it (it's all over painted with scenes of the life of Pope Pius II, commissioned by his nephew Pius II, has sculptures based on antiquity, etc. It's breathtaking, as is the Piazza where the Palio is run every summer. All of the buildings are beautiful and filled with great art. I gave a talk in Santa Maria della Scala once and was almost overwhelmed by my surroundings. Also, I think you'll definitely find a greater choice and quality of restaurants than in Orvieto.
Do a google image search for siena, italy and you'll see what I mean.
Hope this helps!
Thanks for the great info! I'm convinced!
However, how do I get to Siena from Rome? Trenitalia is telling me it's a 3+ hour journey with connection, Rail Europe says no routing available, and I hear there's a bus that also takes 3 hours?
Orvieto, Florence, and Pompeii are all about 1-2 hours away by train?
It is about 3 hours by bus or train (with connections on the latter) because Siena is more in the countryside. I would still recommend it over Florence because you could see most of the sites in Siena one day, which would be impossible in Florence (more is better, but I know you don't have that). I found listings on raileurope.com, though ironically you change in Florence. BTW, when are you going? I would ask the advice of the concierge of your hotel on how best to get there. I've usually gone from Florence rather than Rome, but the SITA buses might be a better way.
Unfortunately our itinerary doesn't take us to Venice. At the time of the original trip planning, I ruled Venice out as too expensive, though I've learned that to not be the case here. Anyhow, our itinerary looks like this one we arrive in Europe now:
Paris - Berlin - Rome - London (20 hour layover, mostly at night though), and back to the US. I'm disappointed that we won't be going to Venice, Parma, Bologna, etc. but am excited to see Brandenburg Gate and other Cold War & WWII related sites.
All intra-Europe travel thus far is via Air Berlin, except for our one planned day trip to Brussels via Thalys. Day trip out of Rome will be the other rail journey.
With your itinerary, you will only be able to do a day trip from Rome. San Gim and Siena are too far to spend any decent amount of time in. I think Assisi may be too far also, granted it is very, very small but not sure the to/fro time is the best way to spend your time.
I think Orvieto will be the best choice,
San Gim, Siena, and Assisi were my favorite Italian towns.
Hi again kharada,
If you can't get to Siena, I suggest Assisi over Orvieto (again do a google image search). I'm a bit biased since I am a liberal (convert) Catholic who loves St. Francis and his love of all creation, including the animals, but I led two tours there during the 2002 trip.
Whether you have a religious affiliation or not, Assisi to me is one of the most beautiful places on the face of the earth -- and if you do it in a tour from Rome you can combine it with Orvieto. Maybe you have to know a bit about Francis of Assisi (which I was reminded of today when I watched Pope Francis in Assisi on the feast day) to understand this ancient Roman city.
It is a hilltop town in Umbria, where the Rocca (castle) at the top was controlled by the Holy Roman Empire in my times (medieval) and the lepers lived at the very bottom. St. Francis came from a wealthy family in the middle and threw it all away very literally -- he threw his father's silk and other expensive clothing out the windows to the people below (and beheld the great anger of his father, though his mother was French and a lover of the courtly love tradition). He literally stripped near the church of San Rufino to show what he thought of the things of this world. And his first follower was St. Clare/Chiara [I chose my online name from her] (who lived adjacent to that church, of a noble family, and is also a saint. Though she had to fight long and hard to uphold Franciscan poverty for women, she was one of the most powerful women of the Middle Ages and beat out cardinals and popes."
The church of San Damiano, where I deserted my tour group the second week (thanks to meeting up with a female colleague who is a Franciscan tertiary at Creighton and offered them a specially guided tour, is amazing. This is supposedly the place where Francis of Assisi had his vision: "Rebuilt my Church." It has very contemporary resonance, but I don't want to sound like someone who proselytizes.
I was in Assisi (like Siena and other parts of Tuscany) leading tours in 2002. Assisi had been hit by a bad earthquake around 1995 and was still being held together by girders. But what struck me beyond the churches, Roman buildings, and girders was the incredible beauty of the city. It suddenly became easy for me to understand why Francis and Clare of Assisi came from this place. PAX (peace) is sculpted in the grounds near the basilica; all the houses have roses, and if you venture down to San Damiano you will see fields of daisies. Everywhere, the roses. And the beauty.
In short, you don't have to be religious or spiritual to appreciate Assisi. It is simply one of the most beautiful places on earth, and IMHO by far the most beautiful in Umbria.
Thank you for the great information! Good stuff! I will definitely look into Assisi as well. I do have to admit, though, that the well in Orvieto looks quite interesting now that I've looked into the place. Beyond the beauty of both places, how's the culinary seen?
Thanks again Prof!
I've never eaten in either place (seriously!). Since both times I was in Assisi leading the tour groups and we went back to Pienza each night, I just did what I had to do and saw as much as I could. Orvieto was also a day trip, and I'm almost entirely into seeing things. When I'm in Venice or Rome for a longer period, all is different and I eat really well .
Orvieto is a wonderful town for Umbrian cuisine...the restaurants right on the Piazza del Duomo are all very good, especially Toro del Giglio and Vinosus which has a beautiful outdoor terrace! There are over 50 restaurants there and you pretty much can't go wrong...try the umbrichelli a local specialty that includes wild boar...buona fortuna!
How long are you in Rome? The more I thought about it, if this is your first trip to Rome and you are there less than a week, you have tons of day trips right in the city limits. You cannot possibly see all Rome has to offer in a week. Take a day or two and just hunt down the best outdoor, local markets, pick up some meats, cheeses, fruit, fresh bread, wine - then go to a park and enjoy a picnic near ancient Roman ruins. If you are interested in local cuisine, that is a great way to enjoy it. Just a thought.
Thanks for the recommendations! I'll look them up for sure as I haven't got the slights clue where to eat in Rome yet.
We'll be in Rome for 5 nights, though we arrive mid-afternoon on the first day from Germany and flight out in the morning on the last day. While it is our first time to Rome, the Mrs. really doesn't care about history and doesn't care much for sight seeing. Why go Europe? For her it's about Euro Disney and the food. Me it's the food, the sights, and the history. I've been trying to balance the trip as much as possible so we each get something that we'd like to do. So for now, I'm just hoping that some day we can return
Please give all the local/hotel information you can. Your timing is wonderful for many of us planning upcoming Rome trips, especially for those staying at the Flora.
Can you send me the name of the Concierge, along with their email address? Will need transportation to/from Airport and don't want to take taxi's or public transportation.
What do you mean transportation to/from airport without taxi or public transport? I'm intrigued? I do have a contact I've been dealing with at the Grand Flora, which I'll send to you via direct message
I know you prefer having a driver meet you at the airport exit but the outside (NOT INSIDE ripoffs) taxis are set price and excellent. They often serve as tour guides as well, and I have yet to meet one who doesn't speak English or be delighted even if you speak a few words of Italian.
Just don't miss Trastevere even if you have to take a cab there. Once there it's flat in the oldest sections, but getting there is a hike. It has some of the most authentic and delicious restaurants in Rome. I'm going back December 6 and while still jetlagged from Venice and planning on London in 2-1/2 weeks for a conference, I am really looking forward to it.
Ah, I see. I think the Grand Flora lists that as a transportation option on their Marriott.com site. I think it starts at 80-something Euro each way. But I sent you the direct message. Hope you can get the arrangements you want!
I don't know if this is still true since it's been a few years since I've stayed at the Flora, but Signor Massimo Chea was the concierge. The Flora can arrange private limo transfers for you, but they are much more expensive than set rate cabs from the airport (about 50 euros last time), except that I stayed in a different part of the city as I will in December. Just got back from Venice - will write more soon.
You could also stay at Marriott Courtyard at Rome Airport (FCO) and they offer shuttle from airport to their hotel. From there you could then check on taxi fares into city (perhaps to your hotel) . Of course, if you want to get into the city shortly after you land, you'd best head directly there. We've found that the two-tier, "Hop On-Hop Off" tour buses the best way to see the city in shortest time; you can get off/on at selected sites around the city. You can schedule these outside most hotels in the city.