Lazio- the hidden ancient treasure
Lazio the perfect blend of nature and ancient treasures
The Region of Lazio is one perfect package that offers everything from nature, sea, sandy beaches, wooded peaks and volcanic lakes, to fabulous food and wine and captivating villages, generous in history and art. Lazio is the perfect recipe for a trip to remember.
Situated in the central peninsular section, is one of the 20 administrative regions of Italy. Facing the Tyrrhenian Sea, the province enjoys a Mediterranean climate on the coast and a continental one further inland.
Many travelers skip over Lazio on their vacation to Tuscany or Umbria, but do not make this mistake.
Long before the birth of Rome, this territory was called Latium by its inhabitants, the latins. Its name derives from Latin Latus, which means extended – it is a vast territory with plains, hills and mountains.
This region is known as the center of world history, the home to Italy’s capital city, Rome. Lazio is much larger than its famous capital city, where long before Romulus and Remus were mythically born, the Etruscans and Sabines lived.
The hidden gems of a Lazio Holiday – A journey into the past
Lazio has five provinces and the most populous and large one is Rome. The others are Frosinone, Latina, Rieti and Viterbo.
Most of the region of Lazio is overlooked due to the city of Rome, but here are the hidden gems of Lazio that you shouldn’t miss
Bracciano and the Odescalchi Castle
The medieval town and lake of Brocciano is the perfect escape, located just an hour by train from Rome. The 15th-century Odescalchi is one of the most beautiful castles in Italy
and has been the residence of two different papal families (the Borgias and Orsini) and also played host to Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes wedding.
Hadrian’s Lazio Villa at Tivoli
Situated in Tivoli, this was the Emperor Hadrian luxurious villa, outside the city, where he came every time he wanted to escape from Rome.
Civita di Bagnoregio the most breathtaking sights in Italy. In the 17th century suffered a devastating earthquake that left only the small section. The tiny town was first built around 2.500 years ago by the ancient Etruscans. Civita was built atop a tall column of volcanic tuff with only one central entrance through a stone arch. The town’s isolation means it has only a handful of residents today, but it’s well worth seeing for its beauty.
Castel Gandolfo and Lake Albano
Easily reachable by train from Rome, Albano Lake makes an ideal escape in the warm months. Castel Gandolfo is one of the Castelli Romani historic towns dotted around the wooded Alban Hills and dominated by grand Lazio villas. The summer residence of the Pope, Castel Gandolfo is little more than a pretty village clustered around the Papal Palace and the extensive gardens enjoyed by popes for centuries. It was a particular favorite of John Paul II, and one of the first acts of his successor, Benedict XVI was to thank the people of Castel Gandolfo and assure them that he, too, would be spending his summers in their “beautiful little town” above Lake Albano.
The town and spa of Viterbo
Viterbo is a city that will surprise you with its medieval beauty and its interesting history. The city lies north of Rome at an altitude of 350 meters above sea level, where the northern slope of the Cimini mountains descend to a large plain towards the sea to the west, and the Tiber Valley to the east. It has many alluring lanes its medieval quarter, lovely to wander by day and also in the evening with the suffused light and romantic air.
There are several great museums, beautiful churches and pretty piazzas to enjoy. With its 11th-century walls, Romanesque cathedral, and even a papal palace, Viterbo is one of the best-preserved medieval towns in all of Italy. Aside from the draw of its winding streets and attractions—including the Museo Civico with archaeological finds, Pinacoteca, and botanical garden—the biggest reason to go to Viterbo is its spa. The thermal baths here have been used since the Etruscan and Roman times, and today, they make for a chance to truly relax and unwind.
Cervara di Roma
Located on the top of a mountain in Lazio’s lush Monti Simbruini, Cervara di Roma is a medieval town unlike any other. Cervara di Roma is also the point of entry into Lazio’s largest protected area, the Simbruini Mountains Regional Natural Park. This “gate” is located 1,053m above sea level and is the highest residential area in the province of Rome. Since the beginning of the 19th century, Cervara di Roma’s natural beauty has attracted all kinds of artists, who have left testimony to their stay and paid tribute to the village through their work. As a result, a visit to Cervara doesn’t just mean striking views of the surrounding countryside, but a tour through a living art museum!
This is a small town with some big claims to fame: St. Benedict established his very first monastery here (in about 529), it’s the first city in Italy that printed books, and it was the birthplace of two historic beauties—Lucrezia Borgia, the daughter of Pope Alexander VI Borgia, and Italian bombshell Gina Lollobrigida!
Today, the charming town is worth visiting for the stunning Benedictine monastery, castle, and quiet medieval character.
Park of the Monsters in Bomarzo (Bosco dei Mostri), is located an hour’s drive from Rome, is guaranteed to astonish. Laid out in the 16th century’s Mannerist style, it features enormous sculptures of everything from one of Hannibal’s war elephants to a statue of Ceres. You’ll feel like you’ve entered a dreamworld!
Sperlonga and Tiberius’ Grotto
The Lazio resort town of Sperlonga sits on a rocky spur opposite the Grotto of Tiberius.
The spot was originally the site of the Imperial Villa, but after the decline of the Roman Empire became a safe refuge for fishermen, peasants and a community of Benedictine monks.
Is one of the loveliest coastal towns in Lazio, and its beach is one of the only blue-flagged beaches in the region.
Caprarola and the Villa Farnese
The massive, pentagon-shaped mansion—built for Pope Paul III Farnese when he was still a cardinal—has stunning interior frescoes, opulent rooms, and beautiful formal gardens. It’s considered one of the finest examples of Renaissance architecture in Italy.
Grotta del Turco in Gaeta
The seaside town of Gaeta includes a 6th-century castle, mausoleum from the 1st century B.C., and important medieval churches.
But the Grotta del Turco, or “Turk’s Grotto,” is one of the town’s most stunning attractions. The natural grotto, which is illuminated with colorful light at different times of day, is accessible from the sanctuary of S.S. Trinita.
Villa d’Este at Tivoli
Villa d’Este, masterpiece of the Italian Garden, is included in the UNESCO world heritage list. With its impressive concentration of fountains, nymphs, grottoes, plays of water, and music, it constitutes a much-copied model for European gardens in the mannerist and baroque styles. Commissioned by Cardinal Ippolito II d’Este, the grandson of Pope Alexander VI, in the 16th century, the Villa d’Este remains one of Italy’s most splendid villas. Wandering through its rooms, formal gardens, and gorgeous fountains is an easy way to spend an afternoon, or whole day!
Particularly if you’re not going to make it to Pompeii, Ostia Antica—just a half hour outside Rome on the train—is an excellent alternative. Rome’s ancient port city, Ostia Antica remains an intact town even today, complete with forum, bars, and restaurants.
Flavors of Lazio
The different landscapes of this region allow the cultivation of grains, vegetables, fruits, olives and grapes. Lazio is one of the first places in Italy for the production of oil and wine. There are many herds of sheep, cows and buffalos and, thanks to its proximity to the Mediterranean Sea, it is also well developed for fishing.
The five provinces of Lazio are different not only in history, customs, traditions, and dialects, but also in cuisine. Provinces may contain different cities but are named after the largest city within their borders.
The cuisine of the capital, Rome it is simple and based on ingredients that are easy to find. Typical items include artichokes, broccoli, chicory, cod, fresh and sea water fish, pork cheeks, tripe, oxtail, lamb, and cheeses like pecorino, caciotta, ricotta, scamorza. The wines to match are typical of the area around Rome, whites are from Frascati and reds from the sangiovese and montepulciano grapes surrounding the capital. These wines are fresh, fruity, intense and slightly tannic – good to balance the fatty foods and tastes typical of our table.
Frosinone is located southeast of Rome, the capital of an area called Ciociaria, having a strategic position, it connects the rest of Italy with the southern regions. In this region, you can taste typical dishes and products of a farmer’s kitchen – traditional peasant cuisine. Among the first would be tonnarelli alla ciociara with tomato sauce, fettucine with chicken giblets, pasta and beans with pork rind, polenta with broccoli and sausage. Other dishes include sausages, lamb chops, chicken al diavola, simmered mutton, and snails in tomato sauce. Frosinone has an abundance of broccoli, cauliflower, beans with pecorino cheese, peas, chickpeas, and other types of beans. As for desserts you can try ricotta, stuffoilfried with honey and also the famous ciambellette cookies, that are made with red wine. To maintain tradition in these regional dishes, they can be paired with these fine wines: a “Passerina del Frusinate” (white, fruity and dry), an “Atina” red made with the cabernet sauvignon grape, or the famous “Cesanese del Piglio,” soft and slightly bitter in taste.
In the south- west of Rome, we find the youngest cities in Italy, Latina. Part of the city stretches along the coast, and this proximity to the sea affects the local cuisine. Both starters, first and second courses are mainly seafood: clams, shrimp, calamari, oysters, octopus, lobsters, anchovies, each one tastier than the last. The local white wines are made with the trebbiano and malvasia grapes, and the reds are made from merlot. Both of these are from the Circeo DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata). The reds of Cori DOC, a nearby area, are produced with Nero Buono. Both are dry wines, harmonious and full of minerality. These wines were born to marry the local cuisine.
Rieti is the geographical center of Italy, located east of Rome, in a large and very fertile plain surrounded by high mountains and the river Velino. The typical dishes are handmade pastas like pizzicotti or strengozzi, which are seasoned mainly with tomato, olives and hot peppers. The pig is the animal most commonly used as meat in local dishes: the sardamirelli is made with the intestines of the animal and flavored with fennel and red pepper. This is perhaps one of the best-known dishes of the province. Rieti is also famous mainly for the production of olive oil. The oil of Sabina is the best in Lazio, and among the first in Italy. The wines of Rieti and the Colli della Sabina DOC – whether white, rosé or red – offer a spicy and pleasing aroma coupled with a delicate and intense flavor that blend well with the local products.
VITERBO city has ancient origins (from the Latin Urbs Vetus, meaning Old Town) and has a vast medieval town center surrounded by high walls. It’s also known as the City of the Popes: in the 13th century, the papacy was held there for about 24 years. The area around the town is named Tuscia by the ancient inhabitants. It is located north of Rome and is very close to the border of Tuscany and Umbria. Its cuisine is a perfect mix between Roman flavors, Tuscan aromas, and the simplicity of the Umbrian kitchen. Traditional dishes include acquacotta, a vegetable soup from fields in the area, giubba e calzoni, a lamb stew made with pork lard and tomatoes, or sbroscia – a fresh-water fish dish served over bread and with broth. The pasta is handmade; gnocchi and strozzapreti (“strangling priest”). Meat dishes consist of chicken and rabbit, bred in the courtyard of the house. There are many wines from this area; the red and aromatic Aleatico di Gradoli is good with desserts. And the famous Est! Est!! Est!!! di Montefiascone is excellent with fish. The Orvieto Classico is perfect with soups, and the Vignanello pairs nicely with many meats and local cheese.
Unique Lazio holiday experiences
Explore Lazio, to feel the real vibe of these places. Here are some hints:
Take a wine country tour. A wine country tour to Casale Cento Corvi should not be missed. It is located in the center of ancient Etruria.
The winery is conveniently located and is known for being the only winery that produces the ancient grape variety Giacchè. Corvi claim it was a red variety used by the Etruscans, and this wine continually wins awards. Visitors can enjoy a tour of the facilities and vineyards and a wine tasting session of their own wine and after a visit to the antique Etruscan town called Cervetri, where the Museum of Archaeology is a must-see.
Shopping in Lazio. The Societa Abbligliamento Rappresentanze Tessuti (SART) is a man’s dream for style and fashion. Making use of only the finest Italian cloth, SART is tucked away near the great palace. With rolls of wool, linens and cotton on display, you can select cashmere winter tops to top off your outfit. Battistoni is a Roman clothing institution established in 1946 and boasts the most elite classic Italian tailoring of the finest cut, specifically fitted to suit your measurements and needs. As for the décor, that’s a whole other glamour to itself.
Gelato. The traditional and best way to finish off an evening out. Among many types of ice cream in the world, Gelato distinguished itself by maintain its popularity from the moment it appeared in Renaissance Italy, to the modern days when gelato can be eaten all over the world. The history of Gelato started in Italy, over 2000 years ago when ancient Roman Emperors and high-class citizens spared nothing in their quest to make their summer lives easier.
Football. If you can, catch a local Roma- Lazio derby at the Stadio Olimpico.
Relax – Il Bagnaccio hot spring
One of the joys of the volcanic northern reaches of Lazio is the abundance of hot springs, perfect for a restorative wallow. Some, especially around Viterbo (6km far), have been channeled into thermal resorts with a faintly institutional feel, but many rise in open countryside and attract a democratic mix of locals and adventurous tourists. One of the best is Il Bagnaccio, where pools have been carved out of white clay in a bucolic landscape that can’t have changed much since Etruscan times.
Meet The Pope- Papal Audience
See the pope and his cardinals deliver their weekly address in Vatican City with a ticket to the papal audience.
Follow a local guide through the crowds to a prime position to see the pope, and gain insight into the historical traditions associated with the papacy and the Vatican.
Use of an audio headset ensures you hear the guide’s commentary, too. Although the event attracts large numbers of people, this ticket (47 euro), guarantees commentary in a small group of just 20 people.
Roman Gladiator School: How to Become a Gladiator
Master the basics of hand-to-hand combat at a genuine gladiator school on the ancient Appian Way. You’ll discover the secrets of Imperial Rome’s gladiator games get hands-on with ancient Roman history and have the best fun you can imagine for 66 euro! During your two-hour lesson, your gladiator instructor will teach you how to fight with authentic weapons used by the gladiators of ancient Rome. Don’t miss this opportunity to re-create Roman history and life as a gladiator. Dressed in a traditional gladiator tunic, belt, leather protective glove and rudis (training sword), you can let your imagination run wild as you play like Spartacus for a day, fighting off ferocious lions and sword-wielding warriors! Next, learn the basic techniques of gladiatorial sword fighting and take part in an optional gladiatorial tournament, with the winner receiving a victory prize. All participants receive a certificate of accomplishment.
Every trip in Lazio is an endless journey into culture and beauty. No other place in the world can boast the cultural and artistic treasures of Italy. More than half of historical and artistic heritage is found here. Evidence can be seen in every village. There are so many art treasures of such quality, spread across the country that Italy can rightly be considered an “open air” art gallery.
Each year is packed with special events, some linked to festivals of the Catholic Church, others to the changing seasons. Every little village has its own wonderful festivals. Many are associated with the harvest (especially wine) or to local products (polenta, prosciutto). The remainder tends to be historical re-enactments linked to jousting or to costumed cavalcades.
Art and culture, the pleasures of good food and music, traditional crafts and expressions of collective religion, folklore and contemporary art, opera and operetta, concert and theater seasons, in this region the calendar of festivals and events is practically endless. For sure Latium has the right response you would never expect!
Where to stay in Lazio during your vacation?
Located in the valley of Civita di Bagnoregio, Villa Diana is a country villa with private pool suited for 14 people. The area is on the border between Lazio and Umbria and close to Todi, Orvieto, Bolsena, Viterbo and Montefiascone. Villa Diana is divided into four apartments with separate entrances which would suit a family or group of friends travelling together. The outside eating area is composed of a private pool (13m x 6m) with an external shower, an eating area with gazebo and BBQ area, a children playground and parking space.
Located along the coastline of Terracina, Villa Rico is in a secure residential area. The villa is located within walking distance to the beach and close to restaurants and has its own swimming pool. The villa develops over two levels. The outside area is composed of a landscaped garden with a cooking area (BBQ and oven), a swimming pool with outdoor shower and sun loungers. Villa Rico is equipped with video surveillance and air conditioning.
A n 18th century villa where you can have your holiday in Italy surrounded by the breath taking landscape, conveniently situated 1 hour North of Rome. From the privileged position on top of a hill, at the center of the estate, this charming house will give you an unforgettable view of a classic Italian landscape. Gentle, green hills, dotted with quaint villages and ancient churches, sloping gradually to the vineyards and olive groves. While the exterior of the villa has been faithfully preserved, the interior 600 square meters on three floors, all accessed by a lift, have been renovated to offer all the modern comforts and entertainment options that will make your vacation memorable, without losing the traditional elements.
Villa Lodovico is set over three different levels. First level: You will find a single room, one double room and a studio with kitchenette. Second floor: You will find a one bedroom apartment with two entrances. The apartment consists of a living room with two single beds, a kitchenette, one double room and one bathroom with shower. There is a spacious veranda with sitting area furnished with table and chairs. There is a double room with the possibility to add a single bed, one bathroom with shower and another single room with shower. You will also find a kitchen with dishwasher, oven, fridge/freezer, coffee machine. You will also find a porch with sofas and armchairs. Top floor: There is a roof garden featuring with table and chairs, outdoor kitchen and BBQ. There is also another double room. The external area consists of a well-maintained garden and lawn area partly fenced. The swimming pool (6m x 12m) has a decking area with sun loungers.
EVENTS IN LATIUM
|Viterbo Baroque Music Festival||August||Palazzo Santoro – Piazza Verdi 4/A 01100 Viterbo||Tel. +39 0761 313343 or 313345