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Lazio - Things to Do - Tourism

Though penalized by the extraordinary centralizing influence exerted by Rome on vast numbers of visitors, the whole of Latium has considerable tourist potential, for it offers a range of alternative itineraries with a wide choice of historical and artistic sights and scenery.

One interesting itinerary might begin in the north of the region, in search of the mysterious and fascinating Etruscans, fierce rivals of the Romans, whose spiritual depth is here revealed in their fine and evocative necropoli.

Mention is here made of the most important: first of all, the Vulci ruins, on the Tuscan boundary, the centre which has furnished the best examples of Etruscan bronzes; farther south lies Tarquinia, near which lies one of the most important necropoli yet discovered, particularly famous for its paintings which provide a tangible and fascinating picture of Etruscan life and customs.

Proceeding south again, lies Cerveteri, with architecturally important necropoli: the tombs reproduce the interior of an Etruscan home and its evolution can be traced from the simplest of forms (7th century BC.) to the most complete (4th-2nd centuy BC.).

Another itinerary in the heart of Etruria lies inland, combining the beautiful landscapes of the great Latium lakes with the environmental interest of ancient, picturesque villages submerged in a gentle silent countryside.

In the immediate vicinity of the capital, some pleasant localities constitute an ideal addition to a visit to Rome: to the east is Tivoli, near the Aniene Falls and the stately ruins of Adrian's Villa (2nd century BC.); a little farther south lies Palestrina, with the remains of Fortuna Primigenia (2nd-1st century BC.), a large pagan sanctuary; turning west one reaches the Castelli Romani area (Colli Albani), a favourite residence of Popes and aristocrats.

Places near the Apennines have fewer visitors but are no less beautiful: Subiaco, for example, with the nearby Benedictine convent of S. Scolastica (11th-16th century), and the monastery of S. Benedetto (12th century), built on the grotto where the Saint lived. Entering Ciociaria, one can visit Fiuggi, a famous spa; then Anagni, where Pope Boniface VIII was taken prisoner, Ferentino, Alatri and Veroli, not far from Casamari Abbey.

Farther south lies Priverno, with Fossanova Abbey (13th century) and its beautiful cloisters.

From this point, the visitor proceeds to the Circeo National Park, on the Tyrrhenian Sea, which demonstrates what Agro Pontino must have been like before land reclamation. Along the coast, lies Terracina, with an interesting medieval Duomo and ruins of the temple of Giove Anxur (1st century BC.).

Beyond this, still on the sea, lies the Grotta di Tiberio where it is thought the Emperor enjoyed his leisure; next comes Gaeta with its Baroque Church of SS. Annunziata (with a rich Renaissance chapel).

Deviating inland, one reaches Montecassino Abbey, with tra gic memories of World War II; it was almost totally destroyed in 1944 and then faithfully rebuilt to the original plan. Traditional tourism is linked with the many Tyrrhenian seaside resorts, the favourite destination of Romans for summer holidays or weekends. From the north, these resorts are: Santa Marinella, Ladispoli, Fregene, Lido di Ostia, Tor Vaianica, Lavinio, Anzio, Nettuno, Lido di Latina, San Felice Circeo, Terracina, Sperlonga and Formia. Of no less importance are the rocky islands in the Pontino archipelago (the Ponzian islands), looking onto the Gulf of Gaeta; only Ponza and Ventotene, linked by ferry to Anzio, Terracina and Formia are inhabited. Latium also has a very famous ski resort-Terminillo (2,216 m.), the so-called `mountain of the Romans' in the province of Rieti.

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