Not that we are complaining, but the Italian capital of Rome with its thousands of years of cultural, literary, architectural and historical influence throughout the world obscures the small towns that dot the circumference of Rome. These quaint towns dotting the circumference of Rome often miss the attention they deserve. While it’s true that there can never be a second Colosseum, these towns and villages have their own idiosyncrasies put on proud display, which is sure to charm anyone. Be it a day trip or a weekend away from the sprawling Roman cosmopolitan, once you tear away from the mass and the bustling streets, you’ll find a sweet haven in these towns/villages. By Shubhanjana Das

1. Orvieto

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If you want to explore the Roman ways of life and its globally-influential architecture without leaving Rome way too far behind, Orvieto is the best choice for a quick day trip. Sitting midway between Rome and Florence, the medieval lanes and the charming restaurants are all complements for the main attraction of the grand cathedral, a structure known all around Italy for its imposing Gothic architecture. The fresco cycle by Luca Signorelli depicting the Giudizio Universale and the highly-intricate facade attracts hour-long ogles by onlookers who just can’t seem to get enough.

2. Castelli Romani

When we think of Castelli Romani, we think of vine-clad hills and the absolute culinary adventure that awaits there. The restaurants and cafes here make sure that your glass of the local white wine is never empty. The best place to have a taste test (or a full-fledged sesh) is at one of its many catines (cellars), and the Cantina Simonetti in particular. To grace your platter is the porchetta or the herbed spit-roasted pork. For the ultimate fare of a foodie who is tough to impress, a grand meal at Antico Ristorante Pagnanelli overlooking the dreamy views of the Lago Albano lake makes the trip to Castelli Romani a sumptuous affair.

3. Tivoli: Villa Gregoriana and Villa D’Este

The renaissance-style Villa D’este, built in the 16th century, is at a distance of 30 km from Rome, a bus ride that’ll cost you less than a cappuccino. Known for its sulphur baths, the impervious smell of the sulphur baths of Tivoli sometimes even reach Rome. But what does not is the soothing views of lush vegetation growing on the steep slopes of its neighbour, Villa Gregoriana. The cascading 130 m drop of River Aniene running close to the town is worth spending the day watching. Climb to the top of the park to witness ruins of temples from the Roman Acropolis and get an experience of the fascinating Roman life.

4. Ostia Antica

This one is no secret to the lovers of history and those who get charmed by the past and its relics. The Scavi Archeologici di Ostia Antica showcases the ruins of the Roman seaport with highlights like a bath complex with mosaic floors dating back to the second century (Terme di Nettuno), a Roman amphitheatre, and a cafe, also known as a Thermopolium, where the menu is frescoed on the wall. No photography skills needed here. Just let the Roman architecture do the talking in your pictures.

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