Terni is a delightful city in the heart of the southern part of Umbria in central Italy. This charming city has a population of approximately 111,000 and is self-styled as the City of Lovers. The Nera River runs centrally through Terni and has been an important source of trade in eras past. In ancient times, Terni was settled in the 7th century by Umbrian tribes and it also became a Roman stronghold with a series of defensive fortifications. In later years it was embroiled in various feuds and wars between the rival factions in the communal Italy. It was not until the 19th century that Terni really flourished – during this period steel mills were constructed here and the city’s economy grew. Today Terni remains an important industrial city and has three distinct areas providing manufacturing capabilities.
As a tourist destination Terni benefits from its fantastic location in the Umbrian countryside – surrounding the city is a plethora of national parks and areas of natural beauty such as the Parco Fluviale del Nera and Lago di Piediluco. Furthermore, the city retains much of its historical architecture and has some beautiful building such as the Basilica san Valentino and the Duomo di Terni. The city also benefits from great transport links to other cities and has a great deal to offer for the budding tourist.
Let’s explore the best things to do in Terni:
1. Cascata delle Marmore
Located in the Parco Fluviale del Nera, the Marmore Falls is one of the finest outdoor attractions in the region surrounding Terni.
Whilst this waterfall may look natural, it is actually man-made and stands as the tallest man-made fall in the world.
The Romans created Marmore in antiquity and it has been used as a source of power and to fill the nearby Piedilucio lake ever since.
Marmore is a truly spectacular sight and it is possible to see the falls being opened – witnessing the water crashing through the gates is something to behold.
Surrounding the falls is a series of trails and footpaths from which you can explore the beautiful countryside.
2. Parco Fluviale del Nera
To the east of Terni you can find the wonderful protected area known as the Black River Park.
This national park runs through the Velino and Black Rivers and contains some fantastic sites such as the Marmore Falls.
Covering 2,200 hectares, the park offers a myriad of opportunities for cycling and hiking.
Starting from the small town of Marmore, you can hire a bike and explore the park; other villages and towns such as Mandrie and Collestatte are charming places to visit within a close distance of the park and can provide a respite from hiking or cycling.
The varieties of tree and plant life here are for anyone who loves nature, this is a great place to find adventure.
This is actually one of the most well-known and well-preserved ancient archaeological sites in the whole of Italy.
Casulae was an ancient town that was founded around 300 BC by settlers from the Roman Empire.
Today, much of the town still remains and several of the important structures are still standing despite their immense age.
Notable buildings include the Chiesa di San Damiano, the Basilica, the public baths, the amphitheatre and the theatre.
You can reach the site of Carsulae in approximately 25 minutes and there are regular bus tours that leave from the city – guided tours are also available.
For anyone who loves ancient history, this well maintained site is a treat.
4. Basilica san Valentino
This church is one of the most prominent religious structures in Terni and is known for its fantastic architecture and tomb of Saint Valentine after which the building is named.
Created in the 17th century, the front façade of the church has a Baroque style and has cream walls decorated with a series of white stone columns.
The interior of the church is just as impressive and features a plethora of beautiful frescos and artwork.
The main attraction of the church however is the aforementioned funerary monument of Saint Valentine – the remains of this important Christian character are houses in a glass case underneath the main altar and encased in a splendid gold death mask.
5. Roman Amphitheatre
Terni has an ancient history and it stands to reason that it has several ancient structures that have been preserved from its Roman era.
The is one such structure and can be found next to Terni Cathedral.
Much of the original structure remains including sections of the outer walls and a whole section of the tiered oval seating.
Parts of the theatre have been restored and made accessible by modern walkways and performances are often held here – if you have the chance to watch a performance here, the atmosphere is fantastic.
To understand a little of Terni’s history, a trip to this ancient structure is unmissable!
6. Duomo di Terni
Terni Cathedral is an impressive structure and features a strange design for a religious building – it looks more like a palace than a place of worship.
Originally created in the 6th century, this cathedral has seen many different iterations and was not official completed and consecrated until the 17th century.
The front façade is simply stunning and features an arched portico that is topped with 8 marble statues of prominent religious figures and saints.
Inside the cathedral, there are some beautiful frescos and the main altar is framed by two amazing stained glass windows and a large opulent centrepiece.
Furthermore there is several ornate wooden carvings and paintings on the surrounding walls.
7. Giardini Pubblici La Passeggiata
Located next to the Duomo and the Roman Amphitheatre, this delightful garden is a great place to walk through and relax whilst site-seeing in the historic centre of Terni.
Starting at the Via Cavour, the garden and Public Park continues adjacent to the Viale Domenica Giannelli and past the beautiful Duomo.
Within the park you can find a series of footpaths lined with gorgeous tall trees and several areas of lawn to relax upon.
This is a great place to walk through when visiting the theatre and Duomo and also often contains fairground rides or activities such as trampoline.
8. Lago di Piediluco
This impressive natural lake has a surface area of 1.58 square km and is fed by the Velino and Nera Rivers.
Only 30 minutes to the east of Terni, this lake is a fantastic place to explore and features some gorgeous scenery and quaint towns that hug the shoreline.
Hiking trails wind around much of the perimeter of the lake and provide great opportunities for hiking – whilst walking on these trails you are granted with spectacular views of the lake and forests.
Furthermore on the northern side of lake on the Corso Quattro Novembre there is a series of beautiful buildings, bars and restaurants from which you can relax and simply enjoy the splendid scenery.
9. Parco Fluviale del Tevere
Aside from the amazing Parco Fluviale del Nera, Terni is in close proximity to another fantastic park – the Parco Fluviale del Tevere.
You can reach this protected area in approximately 50 minutes and it is located next to the Lago di Corbara.
This is a beautiful area of Italy and spans 6 different municipal areas including Terni.
Much of the park is covered with wetland vegetation and there is several mountainous areas that provide fantastic views of the surrounding region.
Furthermore, for those who love wildlife, species found within the park include the White Heron, the Cormorant, the Swan and Buzzard.
The Lago di Corbara is a great starting point, and from here you can explore the different trails and landscapes of the park.
10. Enjoy a fantastic meal at La Locanda del Poggio
Although located 20 minutes outside of the town centre, La Locanda del Poggio is definitely worth the visit and will provide a fantastic experience of fine dining.
You may find it strange to find a seafood restaurant where there is no sea, but La Locanda offers some absolutely delicious dishes that all taste and look amazing.
The seafood choices such as prawns, muscles and shrimps are cooked perfectly and you can also enjoy a selection of traditional Italian pasta dishes too.
The beautiful meals are served by a team of helpful and happy staff who will make you feel extremely welcome.
11. Enjoy a pastry or a glass of wine at Caffe Teatro
Located on the popular Corso Vecchio, the Caffe Teatro is a quaint establishment that serves a selection of pastries and snacks, but also wine! (What a great combo!) If you are looking for a place to rest and enjoy a quiet drink or an early morning bite to eat, this café is the place to go.
Their selection of pastries, croissants and deserts are to die for and are always freshly made.
Caffe Teatro has a modern and clean interior and the staff are eager to help.
12. Sample a Panini at Da Panzerotto Fast-Fudde Ternano
If you want to sample some authentic freshly made Paninis, then Da Panzerotto Fast-Fudde Ternano is the only place to visit in Terni! This fast-food restaurant is widely known for its impressive range of freshly baked Paninis and their divine taste.
The waiters and owners will help you choose and explain the different varieties of Panini available – the different combinations and ingredients you can sample are practically endless! You can watch the chefs creating your Panini and the whole experience is just fun and interesting.
When visiting Terni, ensure you stop at the Panzerotto and sample an Italian Panini!
13. Take a trip to Spoleto
To the north of Terni you can find the beautiful town of Spoleto – this town has direct railway links to Terni and regular trains travel between the two cities (the journey takes approx. 30 minutes). This charming town has a population of just 38,000 and records have shown this town was settled as early as 241 BC. Notable sites in this fantastic town include the Cathedral of Santa Maria, the impressive hillside Rocca castle, the ancient Roman theatre and the Church of San Pietro with its ornate façade.
If you have saturated your site seeing in Terni, Spoleto presents a great destination to explore.
14. Take a walk along the Nera River
Terni is bisected by the beautiful Nera River – this river is 116km long and is a tributary of the Tiber.
The section of river running through Terni is lined with some fantastic scenery and landscapes and efforts have been made to maintain the full course of the river without interference from modern buildings.
Footpaths run along much of this stretch of river and present a fantastic option for those who love walking and being outdoors.
15. Take a walk through the historic town centre
The historic town centre of Terni is a beautiful place to simply walk through and admire the gorgeous architecture and historical buildings.
You can find the main part of the historic centre starting at the Duomo and Roman Amphitheatre – from here the surrounding streets such as the Via Roma and the Via L. Aminale offer some of the finest architecture in Terni.
Interesting buildings include the Palazzo Gazzoli and the town hall.
Furthermore, you can find a myriad of high-class restaurants and charming cafes to stop at on your way.
By walking through the town centre of Terni, you can get a real feel for its history, the local life, and its charming composition.