Looking for an amazing and diverse Italian vacation off the beaten path?
Why not consider spending some time exploring the Lazio coast near Rome?
This stunning region is home to everything from ancient archeological sites to lush nature reserves to some of the best beaches near Rome, perfect for family trips.
Here are 9 must-see locations, attractions and activities on the Lazio coastline:
With so much to see and do in central Rome, it can be hard to know if you should even venture outside the city.
This guide to the Lazio coast near Rome is for anyone who:
I recently visited the sites on this page when I joined a 4-day trip put together by Roma Experiences and sponsored by the Regione Lazio.
The Lazio Region, called Latium in Latin, is the second-most populated region in Italy.
Rome is the capital of the region as well as the capital of Italy.
Roma Experience can organize anything we did (and more!) as a day trip, an overnight trip, or a longer one as we did.
Much of this area is Etruscan country but there are plenty of things to see and do. You can choose between Etruscan tomb sites, stunning Romanesque churches, medieval towns and castles, sandy beaches and wild nature reserves, Ancient Rome and Etruscan archeological sites, and even an alpaca farm.
As a bonus, Roma Experience has a way of getting you into sites that are normally closed to the public.
Vulci archeological park, just 1.5 hours north of Rome on the Lazio coast in the Viterbo province, hosts a stunning collection of Etruscan tombs and other important archeological sites.
The park is vast, but it's easy to focus on just a few main sections in a central location.
Highlights include Etruscan tombs and sprawling ruins of Ancient Roman villas.
Thanks to Roma Experience, we got to see the Tomb of François, an Etruscan tomb (4th century BCE) famous for its detailed frescoes and named for the Italian archeologist Alessandro François who discovered it in 1857.
Unfortunately, the Torlonia family removed most of these frescoes from the Vulci archeological park and have them in a private collection. However, there are remnants of the frescoes in the tomb, and you can glean a lot of the history from the tomb itself and the informative panels outside the tomb.
Vulci is also a nature reserve with a dedicated butterfly valley, some hiking trails, and a beautiful volcanic lake.
As a bonus, there is a lovely place to eat right inside the park, Casaletto Mengarelli.
From their enviable position on a hilltop overlooking green fields, you can enjoy a delicious, restorative lunch in a bucolic setting as you fortify for the next steps of your trip.
Before leaving the Park of Vulci, don't miss the short stop along the way to see the Etruscan Badia castle.
You can either get a snap from the road or you can stop by and take a walk around the castle with its moat (yes, a moat), which is absolutely worth doing, as you'll get to see the bridge of the same name, the Ponte della Badia, over the river Fiora.
The bridge was actually originally made by the Etruscans, although it was later modified by the Romans.
“Who were the Etruscans?”
The Etruscans were a civilization that flourished in what is now central Italy over 2,900 years ago. Etruscan society was incredibly rich and complex, with thriving cities, a bustling trade network, and remarkable artistic and engineering achievements.
Their importance to the development of Roman culture cannot be overstated. Etruscan art and architecture heavily influenced artistic styles in Rome.
Etruscan pottery was incredibly sophisticated and featured a range of intricate designs and techniques, while Etruscan tombs - large underground structures used for burial - have given archeologists important insights into Etruscan society, politics, and culture.
Today, Etruscans are recognized as one of the most important groups in understanding ancient Rome.
A perfect way to spend the second half of the day is by visiting nearby Tuscania, a charming Etruscan town in the Viterbo province, on the Lazio coast.
The most important sites in Tuscania are the Etruscan Queen's tomb and the Romanesque churches of San Pietro (Saint Peter) and Santa Maria Maggiore (Saint Mary Major.)
Saint Peter was built in the 8th century under the order of Charlemagne. It has an almost intact original Cosmatesque floor, and an easily accessible and non-claustrophobic crypt.
Saint Mary Major has a similar façade to that of Saint Peter. Inside you will find gorgeous frescoes, including a jaw-dropping Last Judgement on the apse, painted by 2 of Giotto’s pupils.
Also in this area, you can visit the Piano degli Alpaca, the largest alpaca farm in Italy. Here you can learn about these gentle animals, and even feed them or take them for a walk!
The animals are therapeutic for kids and adults alike, and this can also include those with special needs. We left the farm with smiles that lasted the rest of the day.
Civitavecchia is another ancient Etruscan town but today it's best known as the city's main port.
An excellent shore excursion or day trip from Rome are the nearby ruins of the Terme Taurine, also known as the Baths of Trajan.
The baths are among the most well-preserved Roman ruins in the south Etrurian area. You can clearly see the difference in the architectural styles between the time of the baths' construction in the 1st century BCE and the later expansion under Emperor Trajan in the 2nd century CE.
A bit further up the coast, close to Civitavecchia, another site for a Rome day trip or shore excursion is Tarquinia, an Etruscan town known for its well-preserved Necropolis with stunningly painted tombs.
The best way to explore the necropolis is by taking a guided tour, because it is so rich with art and history, and having an expert explain it all will bring it to life for you.
Don't miss the National Etruscan Museum, housed within the Palazzo Vitelleschi in the town of Tarquinia, walking distance from the tombs. The museum has a superb collection of Etruscan art and artifacts and is definitely worth a visit.
One more site to visit in the area if you want to explore nature and Etruscan tombs is Cerveteri.
Both Tarquinia and Cerveteri are UNESCO heritage sites.
Cerveteri is home to the Necropolis “Banditaccia”, one of the largest and most important Etruscan necropolises in all of Italy.
The site includes over 1,000 tombs, many of which are well-preserved. This is truly an oasis for history buffs.
You can easily walk among the tombs and enter many of them to glimpse a fascinating insight into these ancient people.
On our visit, Roma Experience arranged for the custodian of the private prince’s palace, Palazzo Ruspoli, to allow us inside and show us around (no photos allowed but trust me, it was absolutely gorgeous and a very special experience!)
Locals and tourists alike flock to Santa Severa and to neighboring Santa Marinella to enjoy the beautiful beaches and fresh seafood, but there is a world of history, art, and nature if you care to explore further. This area is also perfect to escape the heat of the city center during the summer!
The castle is a massive 15th-century fortress that overlooks the Tyrrhenian Sea. It's well worth a visit for the sea coast views alone, but there is also an interesting museum with exhibits on the Etruscans, Romans, and Middle Ages.
And luckily for us, thanks to Roma Experience, we were able to visit the usually-closed baptistery, with frescoes by Antoniazzo Romano.
Just next to the castle along the wide sandy beach, you can see the ruins of Pyrgi, an ancient Etruscan port city.
Pyrgi was an important trade center on the Tyrrhenian Coast during the Etruscan period, and you can still see remnants of the quays where ships would have docked.
The impact of the ancient settlements was significant, the Villa Giulia Museum of Etruscan art in Rome, well worth a visit, has many artifacts from this site.
Just past Pyrgi, you will find the nature reserve Macchiatonda, where you can enjoy a stroll on the protected beach, a walk in the woods right on the beach, and sometimes, see flocks of pink flamingos!
Just a bit inland and above the beautiful beaches of the Lazio coast, you will find Tolfa, a charming medieval hill town with lovely views of the sea. A climb to the Frangipani Rock will allow for some spectacular views out and is the perfect spot for taking in the setting sun.
And finally, the cherry on top of this fabulous itinerary is a stay at the world-renowned 5-star luxury resort of La Posta Vecchia.
Set in a beautiful 16th-century building, La Posta Vecchia offers its guests the ultimate in luxury and relaxation.
Once an annex of the privately-owned Odescalchi castle next door, the building fell into ruin and was eventually completely renovated by J. Paul Getty.
During the renovations, they discovered a stunning Ancient Roman villa from the 2nd century BCE underneath, and today you can visit this amazing and well-curated archeological site when you stay here.
I recommend visiting this area with Roma Experience, as they have a way of finding the best things to see and do, hiring excellent local guides, and in particular, getting you into places normally closed to the public. They can take you either from Rome or from your cruise ship when it docks at Civitavecchia.
Here is a map summarising the key points of interest throughout Lazio:
Download and print this map without the watermark for just $7.99 here:
You can take public transport to some of the spots, in particular the fine sand beaches near Rome.
From Termini train station, catch one of several local trains.
Some trains also go to the Etruscan cities of Cerveteri and Tarquinia.
But it's usually easier with a car.
Vulci archeological park – Casaletto Mengarelli:
Piani della Marina hotel – personal chef
Civitavecchia – Giusto Gusto:
Santa Severa – Pino al Mare
Ladispoli – Papeete right on the boardwalk:
La Posta Vecchia hotel restaurant
Cerveteri – Barrel Osteria nel Borgo:
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