Secret Italy: step back in time and explore the Sabina countryside

Whoever said the only great countryside in Italy is in Umbria and Tuscany surely hasn’t been to Sabina. I’m talking about the little known countryside retreat in the Northern Lazio region, just a 50-minute drive from Rome. Vast stretches of rolling hills dotted by olive groves and vineyards, horses roaming the countryside, jaw-dropping views of the bordering Umbrian towns and sunsets you will never forget. If you’re thinking off-the-beaten path destinations in Italy, the Sabina countryside has to be on your bucket list. But don’t spread the word too much, this is a local’s secret and it hasn’t been overrun by tourist crowds, yet. Not in love already? Here are five more reasons you need to visit the Sabina countryside and tips on where to stay in Sabina.

“Sabinashire”: unspoilt countryside near Rome

Sabina: the secret countryside near Rome

Also known as “Sabinashire”, the Sabina countryside has nothing to envy the world-famous Val D’Orcia or Chianti region. In terms of landscape, it doesn’t get any more dramatic than this: green hillsides, steep valleys, hilltop towns and unspoilt countryside. All this, just a 50-minute drive from Rome! If you’re in love with the outdoors, this area has everything you need. It’s ideal for walking, biking, horse back riding and even trekking and exploring rivers and mountains. There are a variety of natural reserves close by, including the Riserva Naturale Monte Navegna e Monte Cervia, the Riserva Naturale di Nazzano and the Parco Regionale Naturale dei Monti Lucretili.

The pace of life in Sabina is much slower. The days are spent outdoors, tasting local specialties, enjoying nature or exploring the nearby towns. If you want to immerse yourself in the tranquility and peace of the Roman countryside, enjoying summer nights with the sound of crickets and nightingales, Sabinashire is just for you.

Sabina has one of the best olive oils in Italy

Sabina has the best olive oil in Italy

My sister and I went to visit some friends in the Sabina countryside recently and were shocked by the beauty of it all. We’re no strangers to amazing olive oil, food and wine, but when we tasted Alessandra’s olive oil, everything changed. She produces her own extra virgin olive oil right in the Sabina countryside and told us that it’s one of the most prestigious – if not the most prestigious – olive oil in Italy.  Apparently, the rocky limestone paired with the area’s climate creates the olive oil’s low acidity and characteristic peppery taste. It’s the most ancient olive oil of Italy, with an aromatic flavour and a golden color with green reflections. It’s no wonder the Sabina olive oil was the first to receive the DOP or PDO (Protected Destination of Origin) Appellation.

Head to the Sabina Olive Oil Museum in Castelnuovo di Farfa. Here, you’ll find a collection of ancient olive oil presses, followed by an olive oil shop where you can have olive oil tastings. And if you go to the town of Canneto, you’ll even find the biggest olive tree in Europe, with its two thousand years of history!

Sabina is a great base to explore Lazio, Umbria and Tuscany

Sabina: base to explore central Italy

Italy is packed with places to visit. There are so many stunning places that a lifetime isn’t enough to visit them all. The mistake I think many visitors make is to cram everything in one vacation and switch hotels and cities every two-three days. That’s the worst way to visit Italy. I wouldn’t want you to visit the bel paese in a frenetic way, spending your time on trains, checking-in and checking out. And if you’re traveling with children, that’s the best way to make them go crazy too! Instead, finding a base, renting a car and exploring the nearby areas is the best way to explore Italy. This way you can enjoy the pace of the base you’ve chosen, but also take day trips to the nearby towns. Without having to stay on schedule with trains and flights! Of course, if you have lots of time in Italy, I advise you to book more than one base. But if you’re planning on visiting central Italy, the Sabina countryside is the perfect base to explore Lazio, Umbria and Tuscany. I suggest you stay at Tenuta Collesala, a country chic estate surrounded by rolling hills near Magliano Sabina.

Communications are excellent. From the Sabina you can take the north-south autostrada del sole and explore towns such as Orte, Spoleto, Civita Castellana, Parco di Bomarzo, Roma, Viterbo, Argentario Sea, Calcata, Terni, Lake Bolsena, Saturnia Thermal Baths and more! There are also direct trains from Fara Sabina to Rome Fiumicino airport.

Sabina is an affordable Italian hideaway

Sabina: the secret countryside near Rome

Since it’s still under the radar for tourists, the Sabina countryside has the privilege of offering great prices! Whether you’re searching for an estate or a b&b, you’ll find that prices are pretty cheap in comparison to other countryside areas in Italy. Plus, there are stunning Medieval hilltop towns to visit nearby, from Castelnuovo di Farfa and its Abbey to Rieto and Labro, there are hundreds of places to visit. And if you want to explore the art cities of Italy, you’ll find that Sabina is at crossroads.

The perfect countryside weekend getaway from Rome

If you’re in need of a breath of fresh air away from the hustle and bustle of Rome, the Sabina countryside offers the perfect retreat. It’s within easy reach of Rome, and it’s the  ideal place for a day trip, a weekend getaway from Rome, or even a longer stay! Fully immerse yourself in nature, put away the phone, your thoughts and relax to the sound of birds chirping, to the view of unforgettable sunsets, and to a slower place of life. During the day, go horseback-riding, do some yoga, swim in the pool, cook Italian style, enjoy food and explore the nearby towns.

Where to stay in the Sabina countryside

In love with the Sabina countryside? Wait until you arrive to Tenuta Collesala, Alessandra’s stunning estate right on the Sabine hills. Imagine an estate completely immersed in nature with a country chic style that can host up to 16 people. One main villa on two floors, two depandances and even a cottage! Not to mention, surrounded by vast green stretches, a stunning infinity pool with loungers and views of the countryside. The entrance of the estate takes me back to the Texas ranches. It’s such a beautiful place, perfect to unwind.

Read the full review of Tenuta Collesala

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