If you are from Rome and you want a trip out of town, or if you are on holiday in Lazio and you want to discover delightful and characteristic villages, this guide on what to see in the Castelli Romani will surely be for you.
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For us Romans they are peaceful corners to escape to during the weekends in search of relaxation and good food to be enjoyed with friends in the fraschette, very Spartan typical trattorias.
When I was little, and we still didn’t have air conditioning at home, my grandparents and my parents often took me to the Castelli Romani in the summer in search of some refreshment from the sultry heat of the capital. In the car (or in the 126 blu of grandfather Cesare or in the 127 of dad Gianfranco) the inevitable cantata was shot at the top of one’s voice to the notes of “Nannì (na gita a li castelli)” – don’t you know her? Before continuing to read this post, look for it on YouTube (here you can find it sung by Claudio Villa) or on Spotify – and as soon as we arrived we were immediately looking for a porchettaro to eat the legendary porchetta sandwich. Just to stay light in the summer!
On the shores of the lake of the same name is this town that boasts numerous archaeological and architectural remains that start from before the foundation of Rome, pass through the republican and imperial times, and go up to the Renaissance.
In Albano there are also two real jewels: the seventeenth-century church of Santa Maria della Stella and the Tomb of the Horatii and Curiazi.
But it is also possible to admire the 3rd century Amphitheater which can accommodate up to 16,000 people, the Cathedral of San Pancrazio dating back to 1719, the Baths of Caracalla and Porta Pretoria.
Among the things to see in the Castelli Romani is this delightful town that has about 21,000 inhabitants, famous both for its villas and historic residences and for the white wine “Frascati DOC”, and characterized by a medieval old town with narrow alleys and ancient shops.
Do not miss the Cathedral of San Pietro built around 1700 and renovated after the heavy bombing of 8 September 1943, the baroque Church of Jesus also dating back to 1700 and built at the behest of Lucrezia della Rovere, and the Sanctuary of the Madonna di Capocroce built in the place where according to legend the Madonna appeared and prevented the sacking of the city.
But as I told you a little while ago, what characterizes Frascati are the villas: Villa Aldobrandini located on a hill overlooking the city, Villa Torlonia dating back to 1560 with its public park and Villa Falconieri with 17th century frescoes and a lake.
“You see, here is Marino the festival there is grapes fountains that give wine how abundant there is” says the song “Nannì” that I mentioned at the beginning of this post.
Marino is famous for the grape festival held every first Sunday in October, a festival that brings thousands of visitors to the town ready to taste wine and typical local products.
The village – perched on a rocky spur – is characterized by colorful squares and narrow alleys. Do not miss the Castelletto district, the oldest district of the village, the fountain of the Quattro Mori, the Gothic Temple which now houses the “Umberto Mastroianni” Civic Museum and the remains of Palazzo Colonna.
Defined as the “Queen of the Castelli Romani”, it is famous for having hosted the Carthaginian leader Hannibal during the second Punic War (early 3rd century BC) and the writers Johann Wolfgang Goethe and Hans Christian Andersen.
Located about seven hundred meters above sea level, it allows you to admire a breathtaking view that on clear days stretches to the sea (Belvedere of the Papal Fortress).
The ancient village has preserved its medieval layout intact and its steep alleys and houses clinging to the rock offer picturesque views.
Do not miss the Villa del Cardinale, the Palazzo Comunale, the Church of Santa Maria Assunta built in 1664, the Church of the Santissimo Crocifisso, the Fountain in Piazza XX Settembre and the Via Sacra (in the middle of the woods) dating back to the 7th century BC.