Imagine rolling hills, covered with rows and rows of vines. Imagine medieval hilltop villages surrounded by century old olive groves. Gates and avenues with sentinels of tall cypress trees leading into noble and ancient vineyards. Welcome to ‘la Campagna Romana., the Roman hills.
Take time out from the traffic and crowds of the Eternal City, at just half an hour drive from Rome. Enjoy the slower pace, wonderful landscapes and delicious food and wine of the Castelli Romani.
What are “Castelli Romani “? Castelli Romani (Roman Castles) are a group of 17 municipalities located on the Colli Albani (Alban Hills), southeast of Rome. They are positioned on top of what’s left of the old Volcano of Lazio, with a series of hills on top of which now rise enchanting villages.
Here’s our recommendations on the top sights to see around “Castelli Romani”during a day .
Visit Castel Gandolfo “the Pope’s City”
Castel Gandolfo is commonly known as the Pope’s City, as it houses the Pope’s summer residence. It is a holiday resort located at the top of Lake Albano and is frequented by tourists from all over the world who appreciate the location, the panorama, the exquisite hospitality and the refined beauty.
The visitor who first enters the Pontifical Villas of Castel Gandolfo can’t imagine being able to find one of the most famous villas of antiquity. Its lush, landscaped gardens, richly furnished papal palace, and 25 hectares of farmland ripe with fresh produce provide all the divine inspiration imaginable away from the hustle and bustle of the capital.
Don’t miss also the Barberini Garden , with the Rose Garden, the Herbs Roads, the Nymphaea Riad, the Oaks Square and the Belvedere Garden. What’s more, since in March 2014, Pope Francis opened the Apostolic Palace to the public, all of it is waiting for you to come and explore. The town is picturesque, offering good photo-opportunities and a chance to appreciate Italian small-town atmosphere.
Admire the scenic Lake Nemi
Thirty kilometres outside of Rome one can find Lake Nemi and the town that is its namesake. The volcanic lake is most famous for its sunken Roman ships and the archaeological exhibits that can be viewed on its banks.
The town of Nemi overlooks the lake from up high and is the reason the lake got its name. Located in the Alban Hills, the modern day town of Nemi was once home to famous Roman temples and cults.
If you are interested in history and archeology, you should visit the Museo delle Navi di Nemi which holds the artefacts of the temple and the relics from the mysterious Roman ships that were built by the Emperor Caligula.
Stop here for lunch: The typical dishes of Nemi are the fettuccine with porcini mushrooms, polenta and sausages, soup of “gialloni” (borlotti beans) with the summer savory, stockfish “stew” (ammollito for five days), the “coratella” (the intestine) of the lamb with the beans, the stuffed pizza. Of course, no trip to Nemi is complete without tasting the incredible strawberry cakes while overlooking the lake.
Visit the famous wine town Frascati
Frascati is the most well-known of the Castelli Romani, and the most visited. Just a short journey from Rome, the town is famous for its white wine, and is a popular destination for Romans that are looking for fresh air, good food and drink and a pleasant day out.The town itself has a charming historic centre, and an impressive view overlooking Rome.
The most imposing building in Frascati is the grand Villa Aldobrandini, with gardens that are open to the public. Frascati is famous for its white wine, and its villas, and there’s no reason you can’t enjoy both when you visit.
Though for obvious reasons, it’s better to save the wine for last! If you love drinking wine, make sure to visit this classic winery named Cantina Da Santino located right in the heart of Frascati.
It is a typical Fraschetta where visitors would be able to taste Ramaccia family’s wine while customers are allowed to bring their own food from home. Brick cellar and a vaulted ceiling lend it an old-world charm.
Wine tasting at Cantina Da Santino in an authentic atmosphere makes the whole trip worthwhile and you can even buy the ones you like from them.