This stunning overlook provides one of the best views of Lake Albano and comes with its own thrills and legends.
Arriving to the lookout is physically easy; a fairly flat thirty minute walk on path 511 through the woods above the lake. But be forewarned: It’s not for the faint of heart. Just a foot from this viewpoint is an abrupt drop.
The narrow ledge found at La Pentima della Vecchiaccia
Path 511, which starts in front of the Convento dei Cappuccini (Convent of Capuchins) takes you in a number of directions. A longer route leads you to the Fontan Tempesta and Nemi, a path that includes viewing the 2 volcanic lakes found in the Castelli in one day. Deviations can take you to the ancient remains of the Romitorio di Sant'Angelo in Lacu, to the caves of Palazzolo, and bikers love the risk-taking Sentiero del Diavolo (Devil’s path). It also leads to the panoramic point La Pentima della Vecchiaccia.
The path to the Pentima winds you through the woods and leads to a rocky wall which peeks out from the green vegetation. Deriving from Latin, pentima means "cliff" or "rocky mass": This spur of volcanic rock, emerging out from the woods, justly earns it name. Towards the end, the path narrows and you find yourself on a ledge, standing over a significant drop without railings, the rocky wall behind you being your main support.
You are rewarded with a magnificent view of the blue lake below, Castel Gandolfo town in the distance, the lush green interior of the crater and beyond.
The Legend of La Pentima della Vecchiaccia (The Crone's Cliff)
The legend goes that in ancient times an elderly woman was accused of witchcraft. At first she takes refuge in the woods, but unable to withstand the accusations, she commits suicide by jumping off this cliff. They say if you lean over far enough, not only can you still hear her screams but also her taunts to follow her.
Another story, also tells of elderly woman from Ariccia who fell in love with a young local. As her love went unreciprocated, she threw herself off this precipice.
Along with its mystical history, it is rummored walkers and their pets get all sorts of peculiar sensations when they arrive to the lookout, but I feel nothing but peace when I come.
The first time I’ve visited, I admit, I clung to the rock face and crouched when I approached the narrow lookout’s ledge, daunted by the drop. Since then I have returned often and now find it soothing. I lap it up when I have it all to myself; it’s a natural meditation spot.
I’ve taken my daughter (age 11) who showed no fear at the ledge and gushed “It looks so much better than in the photos”.
It is a stunning panoramic spot within an enchanting landscape, and the walk includes all the classic Castelli scenery: lake views, lush woods and volcanic rock.
How to Arrive:
Park your car at the restaurant Le Fratte
Ignoranti, Castel Gandolfo. The start of the Sentiero/Path/Trail 511 is found to the right of the restaurant.
After 5 minutes walking on the trail,
you see your first fork, stay to the right on the main path. (The left leads to the lake) Continue on for another 20-25 minutes until you reach the second fork. Take the
left. After a further five minutes you reach La Pentima della Vecchiaccia. Return the way you came. Not recommended for
young children or those who suffer from acrophobia. Let me know if you go!
Signs found at the start of the path 511