1. Santa Marinella

Quickest train journey: 53 minutes (from Roma Termini)

If your trip to Rome has left you with the desire to cleanse yourself of all that city dirt and grime with a dunk in the Med, then make a beeline for the attractive beach resort of Santa Marinella.  Within an hour of leaving central Rome, you can be wiggling your toes in the water before finding a table at one of the town's many excellent seafood restaurants.  Go in the week to avoid the crowds.

2. Tivoli

Quickest train journey: 33 minutes (from Roma Termini)

You ‘ll have heard of Hadrian's Wall, but how about visiting his villa?  Much of the emperor's villa at Tibur, now known as Tivoli, still remains, with plenty of columns, marble pavements and ancient statues to explore.  Some of the marble was plundered to construct the nearby Villa d'Este in the sixteenth century.

3. Orvieto

Quickest train journey: 1h 03 minutes (from Roma Tiburtina)

Perched on top of the plug of an extinct volcano and surrounded by a classic Umbrian countryside of grape vines, olive groves and cypress trees, getting to Orvieto involves taking a funicular up from the train station.  Highlights of this exquisitely beautiful town include the cathedral whose frescoes are said to have inspired Michelangelo and a maze of tunnels and caverns carved out of the hillside three millennia ago by the Etruscans. 

4. Florence

Quickest train journey: 1 hour 16 minutes (from Roma Termini)

Florence, known as Firenze in Italy, acts like a magnet to tourists drawn by its elegant Mediaeval and Renaissance-era buildings and its world-renowned works of art.  Once you’ve had your fill of such treasures, do as the Florentines do and take an evening stroll by the River Arno or along the city’s many cobbled lanes while enjoying a cone of delicious gelato.

5. Assisi

Quickest train journey: 1 hour 51 minutes (from Roma Termini)

Assisi is best known as the birthplace of St Francis, who founded a monastery here back in 1208.  Hit by two devastating earthquakes in 1997, good progress is being made with reconstruction and renovations.  Time your visit to coincide with the Festival Calendimaggio at the beginning of May, a celebration of mediaeval life within the town featuring processions, theatre and dancing.

6. Pisa

Quickest train journey: 2 hours 43 minutes (from Roma Tiburtina)

Tourists flock to Pisa for one thing: the Leaning Tower. Situated in the broad Piazza dei Miracoli, this troublesome architectural disaster has become the symbol of a once important maritime city.  Once you’ve had your fun taking those prop-up shots, linger a while to sample the vibrant cafe culture of this attractive university town.

7. Pompeii

Quickest train journey: 2 hours 12 minutes

For sure, this is a long way to go for a day trip, but catch a fast train to Naples to connect with the Circumvesuviana local train and this is a do-able day trip. Pompeii, a thriving village until the volcano Vesuvius had other ideas in AD79, has been painstakingly excavated to provide a fascinating glimpse into Roman life.  You can only imagine the shock and the terror as the pyroclastic flows crashed into the streets and homes; the unfortunate residents didn’t stand a chance.