Northern Lazio, or “Alto Lazio”, is quite a different entity from the region south of the capital and is well worth a visit. Green and wooded in the centre, its steadily more undulating hills hint at the landscapes of Tuscany and Umbria further north. Few large towns exist, however, and, with determination (and, ideally, a car), you can see much of it on day-trips from Rome.
Foremost among the area’s attractions is the legacy of the Etruscans, a sophisticated pre-Roman people swathed in mystery. To the west, some of their most important sites are readily accessible by road or rail – principally the necropolises at Cerveteri and Tarquinia. Alternatively there’s the town and lake at Bracciano, and places to swim from Tarquinia up to Civitavecchia – playgrounds for hot and bothered Romans on summer weekends. Viterbo, the medieval “city of popes”, can serve as a base if you’re thinking of a two- or three-day visit, particularly if you’re touring without a car. It’s close to some fine examples of the region’s Mannerist villas and gardens at Caprarola and Bagnaia – and the amazing monster park at Bomarzo.