Side Trips From Rome – Alban Hills (Castelli Romani)



Just a few miles the south-east from Rome, you can go back to the dawn of Italian history and drink the golden wine of the towns in the Alban Hills (Castelli Romani).

 

The Alban Hills (Italian Colli Albani) are the site of a quiescent volcanic complex in Italy, located 20 km (12 mi) south-east of Rome.
The hills, especially around the shores of the lakes, have been popular since prehistoric times.

From the 9th to 7th century BC there were numerous villages (see the legendary Alba Longa and Tusculum). In Roman times these villages were inhabited as a way to escape the heat and crowds of Rome, and there are many villas and country houses.
For the Roman emperor and the wealthy cardinal in the heydey of the Renaissance, the Castelli Romani (Roman Castles) exerted a powerful lure, and they still do.

The Castelli aren’t castles, but hill towns—many of them with an ancient history and also prized for their produce: DOC wines such as Frascati, strawberries, peaches, meats, fish, flowers and more.


 

Frascati Wine: When in Rome, Drink What the Romans DrinkFrascati_Vino

I Videoracconti di Roma & Più – Fragole e fiori di NEMI



Although fairly popular as weekend day trip destinations (especially for Romans who come to dine well), the towns don’t have a tourist feel.

The way to explore the hill towns is by car, by bus and by train.

But you can get a limited overview by taking one of the CoTral buses from Rome’s Anagnina stop on Metro Line A.

To get to some of the smaller destinations you may need to change buses in one of the larger towns. Cotral sell day-tickets, which is a convenient way to travel around, ‘castelli-hopping’.

A small railway line runs from Rome’s Stazione Termini into the Alban Hills. Some services terminate at Frascati, others continue to Albano Laziale, via Marino and Castel Gandolfo.

Check timetables in advance as services are not frequent.

Tickets can be bought at any news-stand at Termini Station.

The rail journey is very scenic, passing Rome’s aqueducts, vineyards and market gardens before skirting Lake Albano.

If you are flying into Ciampino Airport, staying in the Castelli Romani and relying on public transport, you can catch the train at Ciampino Station, or the bus at Anagnina Metro Station, without going into Rome.

The best way to see the Castelli Romani, though, is by car. You will be able to see more, and travelling at your own pace will enable you to get to the heart of this interesting and appealing area.



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Marino

This is the closest of the Castelli Romani towns to Rome. Also well-known for its, fairly average, white wine, Marino was an important town under the Romans and has several interesting buildings.

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Città di Marino: http://www.comune.marino.rm.gov.it/home/


 

SEE & DO

Much of Marino’s original charm has fallen victim to modern builders, but the town is still the place to go each October during the “Sagra dell’Uva” or grape harvest. At that time, the town’s fountains are switched from water to wine, and everyone drinks for free. It is more than a wine festival.

In fact every year, on the first Sunday of October, the town commemorates the victory occurred on October 7, 1571, in the sea battle of Lepanto against the Turks.

In the Sagra dell’Uva, a long procession of Marinesi with perfect 16th-century costumes rallies along the main streets of the town, commemorating the victory.


youtube  Sagra dell’uva Video


 

GET IN

Marino is easily accessible by public transport or in your own car.

Trains run from Roma Termini approximately every hour. You take a train to Albano and reach Marino after a few stops.
Buses run daily from Rome.

Take one of the CoTral buses leaving from the Anagnina stop of Metro Line A in Rome. From there, take the blue CoTral bus to Marino.

If Driving from Rome, take Via dei Laghi coming from Via Appia Nuova from just South East of the centre of Rome and follow it all the way to Marino.



 

Frascati

Frascati is a small relaxed town perfect for a getaway from the metropolis of Rome.
Leaving Rome on the Via Tuscolana, past the magnificent remains of the Claudius aqueduct, one reaches the most elegant and renowned town of the Castelli Romani, surrounded by mountain parks, famous for its sumptuous villas, its wines and its intriguing landscapes.

Frascati later developed into a favourite resort of the Roman aristocratic families, which dotted it with magnificent villas.

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Comune di Frascati 

Passeggiare a Frascati

youtube Frascati: video


 

SEE & DO

Villa Aldobrandini dominates the city with its park and its imposing central compound, and it is famous for its garden and for the fountains and “giochi d’acqua” or water plays, in which water is funnelled into interesting decorative paths or waterfalls.

If you have a car, you can continue about 5km (3 miles) past the Villa Aldobrandini to Tuscolo, an ancient spot with the ruins of an amphitheatre dating from about the 1st-century b.c.

It offers what may be one of Italy’s most panoramic views.

Take part in the passeggiata in the evening: wandering up and down the main street, preferably with a gelato, checking out everyone else doing the same.


 

GET IN

Just 21km from Rome, Frascati is easily accessible by public transport or in your own car.
Trains run from Roma Termini approximately every hour. They take about 30 minutes.
Buses run daily from Rome
Take one of the CoTral buses leaving from the Anagnina stop of Metro Line A in Rome. From there, take the blue CoTral bus to Frascati.
If Driving from Rome, take Via Tuscolana from just South East of the centre of Rome and follow it all the way to Frascati.



 

Castel Gandolfo

Is mainly known as the summer residence of the Pope. It overlooks the 10km circumference Lake Albano, an extinct volcanic crater, which is a popular destination for Romans on summer weekends and has many restaurants. Castel Gandolfo is part of the “Dan Brown” tour, having featured in “The Da Vinci Code”.

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Comune di Castelgandolfo: http://www.comune.castelgandolfo.rm.it/

How to visit the Pope’s private gardens at Castel Gandolfo

youtubeCastel Gandolfo (Roma) – Borghi d’Italia


 

SEE & DO

The Pope’s summer residence is a 17th-century building in the centre of the town. Popes Pius XII (1958) and Paul VI (1978) died at Castel Gandolfo. Part of the palace is built on the ruins of the summer home of the Roman Emperor Domitian. These extensive ruins are fascinating but, unfortunately, not open to the public without making special arrangements.
Lake Albano. You can walk or run all the way round the lake. This is mainly road but there are 3km or so that follow a rough track through a wood. Swimming is possible and there are few small beaches of volcanic sand.

In the center of town you can visit Piazza della Libertà; its church, Chiesa di San Tomaso di Villanova; and a fountain by Bernini.


 

Get in

By road follow the Appia Nuova, which begins at San Giovanni basilica in Rome. A few kilometres past Ciampino Airport take a left up the hill to Castel Gandolfo.
It can be reached by bus from Anagnina Metro station, or by train from Rome’s Termini station.
Trains are infrequent, but the journey is very scenic. The station is halfway up the slope above Lake Albano.
A steep path zigzags uphill to the town, emerging just below the main square. It’s quite a climb.



 

Albano

Albano is one of the most important municipalities of the Castelli Romani, and a busy commercial centre.
Albano owes its importance to the construction of the original Appian Way which passed nearby and made it possible for affluent Romans to access the area and build summer villas.

 

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Comune di Albano

Albano: cosa vedere

youtubeAlbano Laziale (Roma) – Borghi d’Italia


SEE & DO

Albano Laziale, at the end of the Castelli Romani railway line, is a busy town with a lengthy history. On a steep slope leading up to the Lake Albano crater, Albano’s Roman ruins include a grass-covered arena, bits of fortified wall and town gates, and the ruined Baths of Caracalla, later converted into a church.


 

Get in

By road follow the Appia Nuova, which begins at San Giovanni basilica in Rome to Albano.
It can be reached by bus from Anagnina Metro station, or by train from Rome’s Termini station.



Ariccia

Ariccia is close to Lake Nemi. It has become famous for its “porchetta”, which is pork that is slowly roasted with herbs and wild fennel.

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Comune di Ariccia

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SEE & DO

The small town’s greatest sight is the seventeenth-century Palazzo Chigi, designed by Bernini for Pope Alexander VII.
A grand Baroque palace, it dominates its attractive piazza. The extravagant period interior is open to the public. Some of the scenes of Il Gattopardo were filmed here.

Here on the road, you’ll encounter a line of small, informal deli-type Osterie called Fraschette, that sell the town’s hallmark food speciality, a whole roasted pork delicacy known as Ariccia Porchetta.

Fraschette are informal osteria-type dining establishments whose name is linked to the ancient habit of nailing a fresh vine twig on the cellar’s main entrance, to advertise the new vintage. Frasca–and its diminutive, fraschetta–means slender twig.

No tablecloths. No reservations. You may even be assigned at a table along with strangers, if the seating is bench-like.


 

SEE NEAR ARICCIA

Survey on “uphill-downhill” road in Ariccia
Things seem to roll, flow and run uphill on this short patch of road near Ariccia. The CICAP Lazio (Italian Committee for the Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal, a section of Rome) has made an investigation on February 2009 to study the phenomenon of the famous “uphill-downhill” road in Ariccia. A magic, magnetic or mysterious road, as you like. An investigation with technical measurements on the spot.
The scientific report has confirmed the hypothesis of an optical illusion. What appears like a descent would actually a very slight uphill. So there is no mystery.

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Misteriosa strada di Ariccia


 

GET IN

Take the subway Metro A to Anagnina and exit the subway station. Outside on the parking lot is where the CoTral bus terminal.

By road follow the Appia Nuova. A few kilometres past Albano you reach Ariccia.
Trains run from Roma Termini to Albano Laziale approximately every hour.




 

Genzano

An interesting town but mainly famous for its “Infiorata” on the Sunday and Monday following Corpus Christus. A whole street is covered with carpets of flowers and a masked parade walks on these, with participants in traditional clothes. Each year the flower designs must conform to a previously agreed theme.

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Pane di Genzano

Infiorata di Genzano

youtubeGenzano (Roma) – Borghi d’Italia


 

SEE & DO

Genzano, which is above the crater of Lake Nemi, has a pleasant main shopping street, and a tourist information kiosk (limited opening) on its main square.

Nearby is a pretty fountain with carved columns. Behind the church of S. Maria della Cima, uphill from the centre, is a belvedere with views over the lake.

Genzano’s grandest building is a ducal palace – Palazzo Sforza Cesarini (17th-18th century) which sits rather sadly with ground floor windows bricked up.


Get in

Buses run daily from Rome. Can be reached by Cotral bus from Rome. Take one of the CoTral buses leaving from the Anagnina stop of Metro Line A in Rome.
Driving from Rome, take Via Appia Nuova from just South East of the centre of Rome and follow it all the way to Velletri.



 

Nemi

Overlooks the lake of the same name. It is an important fruit growing area. The town is dominated by the Ruspoli Castle.

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Nemi-e-Il-Bosco-delle-Fragole-Large

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Comune di Nemi

youtubeNemi (Roma) – Borghi d’Italia


SEE & DO

There is a small museum of the Roman Navy, which houses reconstructions of two ships of Emperor Caligula, discovered at the lake in the 1930s and then unfortunately destroyed by fire.
Nemi is often known as the strawberry capital of Italy. The season for fruit begins in May, but the highlight of the summer is the first Sunday in June, when local girls in traditional costumes hand out free baskets of strawberries to everyone in attendance.


 

GET IN

To reach Nemi by bus, go to the Anagnini Metro stop in Rome. From here, take the CoTral bus heading for
Genzano. At Genzano, change buses, taking the one marked Nemi.



 

Velletri

Velletri is on the southern edge of the Castelli. Inhabited by the Romans from 500 B.C.it is the largest town in the region and allegedly the home of the world’s first pawnshop in the 15th Century.

Velletri, twenty-five miles from Rome, has a Camellia Festival every spring (March), with displays, sales and guided tours of local gardens. The town also has an archaeological museum with exhibits dating back as far as the Iron Age

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Comune di Velletri

youtubeVelletri (Roma) – Borghi d’Italia



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