Daytrip: How to get to Palestrina
Palestrina is a gem of a small town, roughly 40 minutes south-east of Rome, but it doesn’t get much love! We wonder why, as its old medieval city is beautifully preserved, and – more importantly – it’s built over an ancient city called Praeneste (the current name is a corruption of the ancient one) which foundation pre-dates even Rome itself (This means that Palestrina is a must-visit for archaeology buffs!).
A (very) short breakdown of why Palestrina is important
If you’re familiar with the main roads leading to and fro Rome, you’ll have heard no doubt of the Via Prenestina. This obviously takes its name from the ancient city, which in turns tells us that it used to be very important. Mostly strategically. Being on a hilltop, Praeneste/Palestrina still dominates to this day the Sacco valley, meaning whoever controlled the city also controlled the trade of goods moving from or to the south of the Boot. This is exactly why Rome conquered Praeneste durin the Latin War (around 340 BC).
It was during the empire that it became a favorite destination for wealthy citizens and aristocrats alike – emperor Augustus had a grandiose mansion here, as did Marcus Aurelius and Tiberius. And Caligula himself had two legions named after the goddess that was worshipped in Praeneste, as a sign of respect: Fortuna Primigenia (roughly “primeval luck”). To this day the remains to her temple are the main attraction for tourists visiting Palestrina.
What to see in Palestrina
Speaking of attractions, not only you can visit the temple of Fortuna Primigenia (which is in a relatively good state as it was only unhearted due to the allied bombings in 1944), and what is known as Hadrian’s Villa (not to be confused with the more grandiose palace in Tivoli). Palestrina was a onetime belonging of the Barberini and Colonna families, and a majestic palazzo owned by both is a must-see (it is now the home to the local archaeological museum).
Of course, if you’re a lover of classical music, you’ll know Palestrina as the birthplace of world-known composer Giovanni da Palestrina.
What can you expect when visiting Palestrina
A more relaxed way of life, views that will make your friends back home jealous and great, if simple, local cuisine: visit Palestrina for a change of pace and for a milder climate, a welcome change if you’re in Italy right now!
How to get to Palestrina
The only downside, if we can call it that, to a daytrip to Palestrina is that the town is not reachable by local train. If using public transport, you will have to rely on the Cotral blue buses leaving from Ponte Mammolo or Anagnina (both terminals are also served by a subway line, so they are very easily reachable from the center of Rome). Regardless of where you depart from, you’ll know you’re on the right bus if the end of the line is “Genazzano”.
Not feeling like taking a public bus? You can very well go by car, but keep in mind that Palestrina has a ZTL limited area in effect, so non-residents can’t drive into the city center. If you want to make it easy on yourself, you can perhaps set up a round trip by van by relying on our partner, Gianni Conti Car Service: if interested, contact our office today for their best quote!