For centuries Romans and visitors alike have been heading to the Castelli Romani for
its green hills, good food and wine and relaxing atmosphere. Find out the top things
to do while in the area.
Dive into the 2 Volcanic Lakes
The area hosts not only one, but two volcanic crater lakes, both with bright blue water immersed in greenery, complete with surrounding walking trails. Lake Albano, the larger of the two, has sandy beaches, bathing establishments with pedal boat and kayak rentals, and picnic areas. The smaller Lake Nemi comes with its own mythological ( The Temple of Diana Nemorensis) and historic treasures (Museo delle Navi Romane), not to mention fantastic panoramas. The clear water is perfect for a swim; bring your bathing suit and dive in.
Infiorata, Genzano di Roma
Festivals & Sagre
There is no better way to enjoy the traditions, folklore and typical food and wine of a place than a town festival, and the Castelli Romani are full of them year round. In 2022, we began to see the return of these beloved jubilees, which went on a hiatus during Covid, so be sure to celebrate their return. My favorites are the Sagra delle Castagne (Chestnut Festival) in Rocca di Papa in November, the Infiorata in Genzano in June and the Sagra della Porchetta in Ariccia in September.
Both locals and visitors stroll the streets of the quaint towns, taking in heir vast cultural, historical and gastronomical offerings. Each town in the Castelli Romani has something unique and beautiful to offer, and top destinations include Nemi, Genzano, Frascati, Castel Gandolfo and Ariccia. Find out why here
Castelli Romani is considered Lazio’s wine country and local wine producers are taking full advantage of the area’s volcanic soil and favorable climate to produce top, distinctive wines. See firsthand this quality wine movement, talk to local producers, soak up vineyard vibes and taste for yourself why Lazio is now on the international wine map.
Twelve magnificent Renaissance villas, located within the 3 neighboring municipalities of Grottaferrata, Monte Porzio and Frascati, are a wonder of architecture, garden landscaping and art. Built in sixteenth and seventeenth centuries by papal nobility and once a status symbol of Roman aristocracy, these illustrious villas were symbols of prestige, and today they are exceedingly well preserved and some are open for visits. My favorite? Villa Falconieri, but others are also open to the public, check them out here.
Pontifical Palace and the Papal Gardens
Since 2014, Pope Francis has opened the doors to the Pontifical Palace and the Papal Gardens in Castel Gandolfo, allowing visitors to enter both the summer residence of the pope and the beautiful botanical gardens. Highlights within the garden include the hedge mazes of Villa Barberini, sculptures of Neptune and views that extend to the Mediterranean sea. The Palace has an impressive collection of papal portraits, relics, liturgical clothing and uniforms ranging over five hundred years of history, not to mention the chance to visit the Pope’s private chambers. More info on the Papal Palace
Palazzo Chigi in Ariccia represents a unique example of a Baroque residence that has remained unchanged over the centuries. The Palazzo’s intact, preserved rooms, both in function and layout, coupled with the original frescoed walls, decorations and artwork are in essence a time capsule and provide a closer look into the lives of the illustrious Italian Chigi family and the splendor of 17 century European aristocracy. A museum of wonders, this could be my most favorite place in the Castelli, and entrance prices are ridiculously inexpensive. Learn more here.
Take a Hike (or mountain bike ride)
The Parco Castelli Romani has a network of walking and hiking trails, taking you on various paths which include scenic overlooks, gorges, lakes and ancient Roman roads. Unplug, forest bathe and immerse yourself in the green lung south of Rome. There are trails for every level and the area is also considered a mountain bike mecca; there are quite a few local bike rental shops if you don't have your own wheels. My favorite trails include a walk to the Pentima overlook, Monte Cavo, around the lakes and Maschio d’Ariano & The Gorge.