Italy’s western coast from Rome (Roma) to Naples (Napoli) is a cultural and historical destination. With thousands of years of history and unbelievably blue seas with white sand beaches, it’s a picturesque paradise.
Rome was once the centre of the world, so it’s no surprise the area around it is full of things to see and do. Well connected with great public transport, plenty of facilities, and something for everything budget, the Rome to Naples coastline is an ultimate Italian getaway.
Ideally, you’d spend at least a month exploring and relaxing. However, if you’re limited on time, here are a few places you shouldn’t miss if you have 7 days (and if you have more, you can just add time at your favorite stops or combine Rome/Naples with another region in Italy, or even another country).
Introduction to the region
As Italy’s capital city, Rome is a major urban center (but it’s not Italy’s largest metropolitan area; that is actually Milan).
Flytrippers will soon have a detailed guide on how to save on flights (and everything else) and there’s a good bit of information in the free ebook (and by downloading it you’ll get all the new content soon too).
However, if you can rent a car either at the airport or in Rome, you can explore the coast and nearby mountains and venture into more remote areas to see the smaller villages and less crowded attractions.
Getting around both Rome and Naples is also very simple. Both major cities have good infrastructure and public transport with day passes and weekly passes, making it very affordable. Like the small villages nearby (and almost every European city), you can also wander around the cities on foot.
With so many ancient ruins, archaeological sites, and museums, the region attracts visitors all year round. In summer, queues for the more famous sites can get very busy, and it is very hot in the cities.
If you can visit in spring or autumn, it’s slightly cooler and much less busy. Shoulder seasons are the best, as for all of Europe, as much for the experience itself than for prices.
The region produces a fair amount of local fruit and vegetables, so much of the food is fresh.
However, chains and restaurants next to tourist attractions are generally more expensive, and the food isn’t as fresh, so you’re better off exploring the back streets for more authentic cuisine (as for any destination).
While the coastline is spectacular and the waters of the Mediterranean are clear, turquoise, there are fewer beaches here than further south. The beaches themselves are warm, and have white sand and gentle waves, so they can get very busy. If you want a quieter beach, there are more remote options away from the villages and towns.
Rome to Naples itinerary: 7 days in the region
With over 3,000 years of culture, music, art, history, and architecture to explore, it’s possible to spend several months in this region, and you’ll still only scratch the surface of what this part of Italy has to offer.
Here are just a few highlights to visit during your trip, to inspire your own personalized Italy itinerary.
Day 1 and 2: Rome
There is simply too much to see and do in Rome only to spend one day here. Rome is one of the world’s most historic cities, after all.
Getting around Rome is incredibly easy, so you certainly don’t need a car. Buses connect all the major tourist attractions, and you can buy day passes so you don’t have to worry about the cost.
Do the math on the Turbopass Rome that offers entry to multiple attractions, depending on how many you plan on seeing.
The biggest attraction in Rome is the Colosseum. You can enjoy wandering around it alone or pay a little extra for a guided tour, although the audio guides are very thorough without being boring. Right next door is Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum, where you can wander the ruins of Ancient Rome; it’s an absolute must-see.
For a more unusual view of Rome, head underground to see the Catacombs of Priscilla. These were lost for centuries and rediscovered in the 16th century. There are some amazing artifacts, paintings and mosaics, although it is a bit creepy!
On day 2, head to the Vatican City to see St. Peter’s Basilica and the famous Sistine Chapel. It takes a few hours to appreciate everything since there is so much to see; sculptures, paintings, religious artifacts, and more gold than anything else.
Nearby, you can visit the incredible Museum Leonardo Da Vinci Experience, which has some amazing interactive displays. Then wander along the river, appreciating the city’s beauty and visit the imposing Castel Sant’Angelo castle.
For dinner, the Trastevere neighbourhood is known for having amazing local restaurants called trattorias. Italy is obviously a food-lover’s paradise!
Day 3: Tivoli
Situated just on the outskirts of Rome is Tivoli. Again, public transport is so good, you don’t need a car and could stay another night in Rome. However, Tivoli is a little more remote, so renting a car in Rome is easier.
Tivoli’s main attraction is the sprawling Roman ruin called Hadrian’s Villa and once owned by Emperor Hadrian. It’s the largest and most complex Roman villa in existence and is truly unique.
It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site and is incredibly well preserved, giving amazing insight into life as a wealthy Roman.
With a river running through the heart of the town, you’ll be able to find plenty of fountains, water gardens, and bridges dotted throughout the town. The Viale delle Cento Fontane and the Fontana dell’Ovato are perhaps the most impressive. The Gregorian Bridge in the centre of the flowing river is also mind-blowing.
Wandering around the Centro Storico di Tivoli historic centre, exploring local boutiques, and finding some charming places to eat is calming and relaxing; there are much fewer crowds than in Rome.
Make sure to check out some of the restored houses, such as Casa Gotica, for even more incredible history.
Day 4: Sora
Sora is a picturesque medieval town in the Italian hills. Sat on the river with views into the nearby National Park of Abruzzo, Sora is bright, refreshing, and invigorating. It’s the perfect gateway to hike in the hills, wild swim in lakes, and breathe the fresh air.
Sora itself has a beautiful medieval old town with elegant architecture. Cobbled streets and little courtyards with terraced cafes and palm trees are the perfect backdrops to do some shopping and try the amazing local food.
The Parco Santa Chiara is a gorgeous landscaped park in a square that offers some nice shade from the sun. For more wild gardens, the Riserva Naturale Lago di Posta Fibreno is a wildlife park with a lake. Rent a boat and get out on the water for a relaxing experience.
Visit the beautiful Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption to see the incredible internal stone walls. Near the cathedral is the Museo Civico Della Media Valle Del Liri, which has some amazing artifacts found in the valley and surrounding land. From statues and engravings to a section on pagan cults, it’s a fascinating glimpse of the area’s history.
For dinner and drinks, head to Via Lungoliri Rosati, right on the waterfront. You’ll find great pizzerias and simple restaurants overlooking the river, as well as some fun bars, including a jazz bar.
Day 5: Gaeta
Gaeta is the perfect place to slow down, relax, and enjoy being by the ocean. This small seaside village is calmer and has fewer crowds than the big cities, but it’s retained its traditional Italian charm and has a whole lot of history.
If you just want to relax and soak up some sun, Serapo Beach is the perfect mix of private beach clubs and public family areas. It’s right downtown and so easy to get to. For a more remote and private beach, the Cala dei 40 Remi is scenic and calm.
To really appreciate the beauty of this stretch of coastline, take a boat tour to the Grotta Del Turco. The way the light plays off the sea in the cave is magical. You can also hop on a boat to go diving. Gaeta has lots of great dive spots, so there is something for beginners and advanced divers.
Back on land, Parco Monte Orlando is a beautiful spot for hiking, enjoying the views, and enjoying the stunning Italian landscape. The park also has several Roman ruins you can explore, as well as the beautiful 11th-century Sanctuary of Montagna Spaccata.
Wandering around Gaeta, you can enjoy a blend of modern shops and amenities as well as narrow, winding Roman streets. Family-owned restaurants serve fresh, local food or grab a picnic and head to one of the many parks to relax.
Finally, head right to the tip of the land to visit the impressive Castello Angioino-Aragonese. Marvel at how it was built on this remote spit of land and appreciate the incredible views over the bay.
Day 6: Naples
Naples is a bustling, lively city that feels like it exists in a bubble. Sitting between Rome and the Amalfi coast, it’s a popular destination with a lot to see and do. Like Rome, you really could spend much more time here than just one day.
One of the best things to do in Naples if you don’t have much time is to visit Ovo Castle. This seafront castle is actually built on an island and has the best views from the top. It’s right near the harbor so you can also admire the incredible yachts.
Nearby, the medieval Castel Nuovo is a symbol of Naples. Previously home to the King of Naples and Spain, it’s an impressive royal palace and fort all in one. In addition, it’s a cultural headquarters for several societies and has an amazing museum.
The 2 castles are within walking distance from quartieri spagnoli, the busy commercial district.
With winding alleyways, it is a bright, colorful area. Perfect for shopping and grabbing a bite to eat, you can try Naples’ special fried pizza, admire some amazing graffiti artwork, and pick up some local craft souvenirs if you like to do that.
Remember, Naples is where pizza was invented! Frozen desserts are great here too (the name of Neapolitan ice cream comes from immigrants who were from the city).
Again within walking distance, you’ll come across Galleria Umberto I, the covered shopping area. Rich in history and with amazing architecture, it’s got one of the most impressive glass and iron domed roofs in the world. The beautiful San Carlo opera house is also part of the same complex.
Uncover the real history of Naples by heading underground. Here you can see bomb shelters, underground tombs, Roman aqueducts, underground temples, royal escape routes, and more. Take a guided tour of The Catacombs Of San Gennaro and the Bourbon Tunnel to see the best bits.
Day 7: Pompeii
You can stay in Naples and either drive, take a bus, or get a boat ride over to the ancient city of Pompeii. Famously destroyed by the nearby volcano, it’s a sprawling and incredible sight. Be prepared for a lot of walking because there is a lot to see, and you’re covering an entire city.
Once inside Pompeii, you can freely wander around and explore the streets, houses, and public buildings that were once so full of life. The House of the Tragic Poet has some of the best mosaics and frescoes, while the walls of the Villa of Mysteries have some very unusual scenes.
Get closer to the action by going on a short hike up the side of Mount Vesuvius. It is an active volcano, but it is possible to climb it. It’s a long way to the main crater if you aren’t prepared, but there are some shorter hikes lower down with nice views of the bay and Pompeii.
If you want to see a more intimate side of Roman life, head to Herculaneum. This smaller archaeological site has more information about day-to-day life and the day of the eruption. The museum has some artifacts found in the rubble and really brings the ancient world to life.
Herculaneum is much closer and better connected to Naples, so it’s also a good stop to grab some food on the seafront in the shadow of the volcano.
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Featured image: Naples (photo credit: Danilo D’Agostino)