Terni is a pleasant city in the heart of southern Umbria in central Italy. This charming city of about 111,000 calls itself the “City of Lovers”. The Nera River runs through Terni and has been an important source of trade in the past. In ancient times, Terni was settled by the Umbrian tribes in the 7th century, and it also became a Roman stronghold with a series of fortifications. In later years it was involved in various feuds and wars between rival factions within the Italian Commune. It wasn’t until the 19th century that Terni really prospered – during which time steel mills were built and the city’s economy grew. Today, Terni remains an important industrial city, with three distinct areas providing manufacturing capabilities.
As a tourist destination, Terni benefits from its excellent location in the Umbrian countryside – the city is surrounded by numerous national parks and areas of natural beauty, such as Parco Fluviale del Nera and Lago di Piediluco. In addition, the city has preserved many historic buildings and has some beautiful buildings such as the Cathedral of San Valentino and the Cathedral of Terni. The city also benefits from easy transport links to other cities and has a lot to offer budding tourists.
Let’s explore the best things to do in Terni:
1. Cascata delle Marmore
Located in Parco Fluviale del Nera, Marmore Falls is one of the best outdoor attractions in the area around Terni.
Although this waterfall looks natural, it is actually man-made and is the tallest man-made waterfall in the world.
The Romans created Marmor in ancient times, and since then it has been used as an energy source and to fill the nearby Pidilucio Lake.
Marmore is a truly spectacular sight to see the falls opening up – it’s worth seeing the water rush out the gate.
Surrounding the falls is a series of trails and walkways from which you can explore the beautiful countryside.
2. Parco Fluviale del Nera
East of Terni you can find the wonderful reserve known as Heihe Park.
This national park runs through the Velino and Black Rivers and contains some fantastic attractions such as Marmore Falls.
The park covers 2,200 hectares and offers countless opportunities for cycling and hiking.
From the small town of Marmore, you can rent a bike to explore the park; other villages and towns, such as Mandrie and Collettatte, are charming sights close to the park, giving you a respite from a hike or bike ride.
With a wide variety of trees and plants for anyone who loves nature, this is a great place to find adventure.
This is actually one of the most famous and best preserved ancient archaeological sites in all of Italy.
Casulae is an ancient town founded around 300 BC by settlers from the Roman Empire.
Much of the town still exists today, and despite its age, some important buildings still stand.
Notable buildings include the church of San Damiano, the cathedral, the public baths, the amphitheatre and the theatre.
You can reach the ruins of Carsulae in about 25 minutes, and there are regular bus tours from the city – guided tours are also available.
For those who love ancient history, this well-maintained site is a treat.
4. San Valentino Cathedral
This church is one of the most famous religious buildings in Terni, famous for its marvelous architecture and the tomb of St. Valentine, which is named after the building.
Built in the 17th century, the church has a Baroque facade with a series of white stone columns adorning the cream-coloured walls.
The interior of the church is equally impressive, with a wealth of beautiful frescoes and artwork.
The main attraction of the church, however, is the aforementioned funeral monument to St. Valentine – the remains of this important Christian figure are housed in glass cases below the main altar, and are encased in ornate golden death masks.
5. Roman Amphitheatre
Terni has a rich history, and it stands to reason that it has several ancient buildings preserved from Roman times.
This is one such structure that can be found next to Terni Cathedral.
Much of the original structure remains, including sections of the exterior walls and entire sections of the tiered oval seating.
Parts of the theatre have been restored and are accessible via modern walkways, and shows are often held here – if you get the chance to see a show here, the atmosphere is great.
To learn a little bit of Terni’s history, don’t miss a tour of this ancient building!
6. Cathedral of Dieterny
Terni Cathedral is an impressive building with a strange design for its religious buildings – it looks more like a palace than a place of worship.
Originally built in the 6th century, the cathedral went through many different iterations before it was officially completed and consecrated in the 17th century.
The front façade is simply stunning and features an arched portico topped with 8 marble statues of famous religious figures and saints.
Inside the cathedral, there are some beautiful frescoes, the main altar is decorated with two stunning stained glass windows and a large ornate centerpiece.
In addition, there are several ornate wood carvings and paintings on the surrounding walls.
7. Giardini Pubblici La Passeggiata
Adjacent to the Cathedral and the Roman Amphitheatre, this pleasant garden is a great place to stroll and relax while exploring the sights of Terni’s historic centre.
From Via Cavour, the gardens and public park continue next to the Viale Domenica Gianneli and past the beautiful cathedral.
In the park you can find a series of trails lined with gorgeous tall trees and a few lawns for you to relax.
It’s a great place to stroll while visiting the theatre and cathedral, and often includes activities such as playground rides or trampolines.
8. Lago di Piediluco
This impressive natural lake covers an area of 1.58 square kilometers and is fed by the Velino and Nera rivers.
Just 30 minutes east of Terni, this lake is a great place to explore, with beautiful scenery and quaint towns hugging the coastline.
Hiking trails wrap around most of the lake’s perimeter, providing excellent opportunities for hiking – you can enjoy stunning views of the lake and forest as you walk on these trails.
In addition, on the north side of the Corso Quattro Novembre lake, there is a series of beautiful buildings, bars and restaurants where you can relax and enjoy the magnificent scenery.
9. Parco Fluviale del Tevere
Besides the stunning Parco Fluviale del Nera, Terni is also close to another wonderful park – Parco Fluviale del Tevere.
You can reach this protected area next to Lago di Corbara in about 50 minutes.
This is a beautiful region of Italy that spans 6 different municipalities including Terni.
Much of the park is covered with wetland vegetation, and there are several mountainous areas that offer great views of the surrounding area.
Also, for those who love wildlife, species in the park include egrets, cormorants, swans, and bald eagles.
Lago di Corbara is a good starting point from which you can explore the different trails and landscapes of the park.
10. Eat delicious food at La Locanda del Poggio
Although 20 minutes from the city center, La Locanda del Poggio is definitely worth a visit and will provide a wonderful culinary experience.
You might find it odd to find a seafood restaurant without the sea, but La Locanda offers some absolutely delicious dishes that taste and look amazing.
Seafood options such as prawns, muscle and shrimp are cooked to perfection, and you can also enjoy a variety of traditional pasta dishes.
Delicious meals are served by a team of helpful and happy staff who will make you feel very welcome.
11. Enjoy pastries or wine at Caffe Teatro
Located in the popular Corso Vecchio, Caffe Teatro is a quaint restaurant serving a variety of pastries and snacks, and wine! (What a great combination!) If you’re looking for a place to rest, enjoy a quiet drink or grab an early morning bite, this cafe is the place for you.
Their selection of pastries, croissants and desserts are mouthwatering and always freshly made.
Caffe Teatro has a modern and clean interior and the staff are happy to help.
12. Tasting panini at Da Panzerotto Fast-Fudde Ternano
Da Panzerotto Fast-Fudde Ternano is the only place to visit in Terni if you want to taste some authentic fresh panini! This fast food restaurant is known for its impressive freshly baked Paninis and their wonderful taste.
The waiter and owner will help you select and explain the different panini varieties available – the different combinations and ingredients you can taste are almost endless! You can watch the chef make your panini and the whole experience is fun and entertaining.
When visiting Terni, be sure to stop at Panzerotto for a taste of Italian panini!
13. A trip to Spoleto
North of Terni you can find the beautiful town of Spoleto – which has a direct railway to Terni and there are regular trains between the two cities (the journey takes about 30 minutes). This charming town has a population of only 38,000 and records show that it was settled as early as 241 BC. Famous sights in this wonderful town include the Basilica of Santa Maria, the impressive hillside Rocca Castle, the Roman Theatre and the ornate St Peter’s Church.
If your Terni site is saturated, Spoleto is a great place to explore.
14. Walk along the Naira River
Terni is bisected by the beautiful River Nera – a 116 km long tributary of the Tiber.
The stretch of the river that flows through Terni is very scenic and scenic, and efforts have been made to keep the river in its entirety, free from the interference of modern buildings.
Walkways run along most of the river, making it a great option for those who enjoy walking and being outdoors.
15. Stroll through the historic city center
The historic centre of Terni is a beautiful place where you can simply walk through and admire the ornate architecture and historic buildings.
You can find the main part of the historic center starting from the Cathedral and the Roman Amphitheatre – from here, the surrounding streets such as Via Roma and Via L. Aminale offer some of Terni’s best buildings.
Interesting buildings include Palazzo Gazzoli and the Town Hall.
Plus, you’ll discover countless fine-dining restaurants and charming cafés along the way.
Walk through Terni town centre and you can really get a feel for its history, local life and fascinating makeup.
Where to stay: The best hotels in Terni, Italy
Lowest price guaranteed.