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Lazio

Rome

Rome has its own webpage; see the Rome page for more information about the Eternal City.

Castelli Romani/Colli Albani 

The "Roman Castles" or Alban Hills are southeast of Rome, and their volcanic hills and lakes have traditionally been a vacation/getaway spot for Romans, including the Pope (his summer villa is at Castel Gandolfo).
  • Frascati - known for wine; houses Villa Aldobrandini; one of the larger towns with a lot of casual restaurants; outside town are the ruins of ancient Tusculum
    • Zarazà - rec'd MichelinSlow Food Osterie d'Italia 2017
    • Da una Cantina - rec'd Michelin
    • Cacciani - rec'd Michelin
    • Cantina Martini - rec'd Slow Food Osterie d'Italia 2017
    • Cantina da Santino - rec'd Slow Food Osterie d'Italia 2017
    • Osteria dell'Olmo - rec'd Slow Food Osterie d'Italia 2017
    • Cantina Grappolo d'Oro - rec'd Slow Food Osterie d'Italia 2017
    • Cantina Bucciarelli - rec'd Slow Food Osterie d'Italia 2017
    • Cantina del Principe - rec'd Slow Food Osterie d'Italia 2017
    • Vinoteca Trinca - rec'd Slow Food Osterie d'Italia 2017
    • Cantina Ceccarelli - a bit outside town, rec'd Slow Food Osterie d'Italia 2017
  • Grottaferrata - just S of Frascati, has Abbazia Greca di San Nilo
  • Monte Porzio Catone - NE of Frascati
    • Il Monticello - rec'd Michelin, Slow Food Osterie d'Italia 2017
  • Castel Gandolfo - contains the Pope's traditional summer residence (thanks to Pope Francis, you can tour the residence and gardens); overlooks Lago Albano; named one of the most beautiful towns in Italy. Friday is market day.
  • Albano Laziale
  • Ariccia - known for its porchetta, often served by an informal eating establishment called a fraschetta (everyone seems to have a favorite one); also home to Palazzo Chigi; this blog gives a nice introduction
    • ***Osteria Numero 1 (aka Hosteria N° 1) - this fraschetta had good reviews online from various places, and we had some *amazing* porchetta here. The other dishes were good but nothing to write home about, and the service was a bit slow (they forgot about us for ~30 minutes) but it's worth it for the porchetta!
    • Cioli - rec'd by Scatti di Gusto and many others for excellent porchetta; not a fraschetta but more of a butcher shop
    • La Selvotta - rec'd by many websites, particularly for its garden atmosphere
    • (Elizabeth Minchilli also recommends the porchetta at Bernabei in Marino, north of Castel Gandolfo, also rec'd by Scatti di Gusto)
  • Nemi - has the haunting Lago di Nemi (Lake Nemi) and the ruins of an old temple to Diana; known for wild strawberries
    • the Temple of Diana is now on ~private land, but if you ask nicely they might let you go see it
  • Genzano di Roma - SW of Lago di Nemi, beautiful view of the lake

Tivoli

Famous for the Villa d'Este, a huge garden with lots of fountains built in the 16th century by a meglomaniac Cardinal, and Hadrian’s Villa, a well-preserved Roman ruin.

Gaeta/Southern Coast

Gaeta hosts a small U.S. Navy base and the Sixth Fleet Flagship, USS Mount Whitney; see base information for basic contact information and hours.  For a great overview of stuff to see and places to go/eat near Gaeta, see this great Gaeta Google Map.

Beaches

  • Serapo - nice beach just north of Gaeta, sandy, includes private lidos and public beaches
  • 300 Gradini - north of Serapo, has a younger crowd and to the south has a nude beach, €2 entry fee plus extra if you want a beach chair, etc.

Sights/Activities

  • Old Gaeta - the old medieval town is a sight itself, with its twisty lanes perched on a hill (Monte Orlando).  Some sights nearby include the following:
    • Castello Angionio-Aragonese (Angevine-Aragonese Castle) - this medieval castle was built in two levels, one Angevin French and one Aragon Spanish.  It's under reconstruction and closed to the public, but it is cool to look at from the outside.
    • Mausoleum of Lucius Munatius Plancus - at the top of Monte Orlando, this is the best-preserved Roman mausoleum in the world, although the interior is mostly bare.  Nice view from the top, and the climb brings one past the Montagna Spaccata, a "split mountain" created (according to local legend) when Jesus died (and thus also the site of the church of the Montagna Spaccata or SS. Trinità)
    • Various Churches - several churches of note pepper the old town, such as the Cathedral of St. Erasmus (with a famous 13th century carved easter candle holder), Church of the Annuziata (in whose Golden Grotto Piux IX thought up papal infallability), and the churches of San Francesco and San Giovanni a Mare.
    • Il Molo Gelateria - Piazza del Pesce 1, 077-146-4721, this gelateria near the old port won "best gelateria in Italy" a few years back
  • Terracina - nice seaside town north of Gaeta
  • Sperlonga - medieval town north of Gaeta, one of the nicer beaches accessible from Rome; was also the home of Emperor Tiberius (you can visit the grotto where his villa once stood, and see the museum with old Roman statues found there)
  • San Felice Circeo - just up the coast from Terracina
  • Sicily-Rome American Cemetary and Memorial - farther north in Nettuno, near Anzio, 41°27.918'N 12°39.503'E
    • Nettuno itself has some nice beaches and an old medieval quarter that includes the Forte Sangallo castle
  • See the Gaeta Google Map for more

Restaurants

  • Da Veneziano - via Abate Tosti 120, Formia, 077-177-1818, closed Mon, 18th century palace overlooking the water, good seafood, ~€35-40, €25 fixed-price menu, rec'd by Veronelli and Michelin.
  • Il Gatto e la Volpe - via Abate Tosti 83 (near the port), Formia, 077-121-354, closed Wed, brothers Giancarlo and Antonio Simeone serve up traditional seafood such as tiny fried octopus (capetroccole), grilled calamari, etc. ~€30, with fixed price menus between €28-38.  Extensive wine list with reasonable prices.  Rec'd by Slow Food Osterie d'Italia and TCI.  (Delicious!)
  • Il Mutano - via Castello 43, in Maranola (medieval town ~6 km NE of Formia), 077-173-4260, only open on weekend or by reservation, specializes in Sardenian food such as Sardenian salamis and cheeses; spaghetti with dried tomatoes, ricotta, and nuts; baked lamb; and grilled goat meat.  ~€30
  • Sirio - viale Unità d'Italia 128 (west of the port near the water), Formia, 077-179-0047, 077-177-2705, closed Dec, Jan, Tues, and Mon dinner (9/16-7/14) or Wed lunch (7/15-9/15), good sea & land food, everything (including pasta) made fresh by the restaurant, ~€34-40, recommended by Panorama, Gambero Rosso, Slow Food Osterie d'Italia, Espresso, and TCI!!
  • Vindicio Beach - via Vindicio 9 (on the water near the intersection with via Pietro Nenni), 077-177-2745, closed Nov-Apr, right on the beach with panoramic terrace, typical local food, ~€15-30, rec'd by Gambero Rosso and Espresso
  • La Cantinella Gaetana - via Duomo 13, Gaeta, 077-145-0005, closed Tues, Slow Food Osterie d'Italia rec's this nice place near the old port for, among other things, its mixed fried seafood, ~€30-35.
  • L'Enoteca di Luigi Raschi - vico Primo Indipendenza 15 (just W of modern port), Gaeta, 077-146-5639, closed Tues, dinner only, ~€35-40, rec'd by Alice.
  • Taverna Lupo di Mare - via Bausan 6, Gaeta, 077-146-5559, closed Wed, in the historic district on the water near the old port, excellent seafood and homemade pastas & desserts, ~€35, rec'd by Alice.
  • Trattoria la Cianciola - vico II Buonomo 16 (W of modern port), Gaeta, 077-146-6190, closed Mon, good seafood rec'd by Michelin, ~€20-35.
  • Il Nostromo - Lungomare Giovanni Caboto 154, Gaeta (W of modern port), 077-147-0107, rec'd by Americans for good seafood.
  • Sii Pur Brigante - via Ripa 5, Itri (10 km NW of Formia), 077-172-1594, closed Wed, dinner only, near medieval Castle, enoteca that has good wine plus excellent food, rec'd by Panorama, not too expensive ~€15-25.

Transportation

  • Driving - you can either take A1 north to the Capua exit, or in most cases it's quicker to take the Domitiana (SS7quater) all the way north
  • Train - the Formia train station has frequent trains to/from Rome as well as Naples/Pozzuoli

Montecassino

Originally founded by St. Benedict in the 6th century, the Abbey of Montecassino has been re-built four times, most recently in 1945 following a devastating World War II battle.  Perched on a hill near the town of Cassino, the abbey offers a gorgeous view, a beautiful church and cloister, and a lot of history.

Visiting Tips

  • Driving: Take the Cassino exit and follow the yellow signs for "Abbazia di Montecassino"; it's about 1-1.5 hours from Naples. Parking is €2.
  • Opening Hours: M-Sat 8:30-12:30 and 3:30-5:30 (6:30 in the summer).  Yes, the abbey is closed for 3 hours in the afternoon, so plan accordingly.  There are conflicting stories about their hours for Sundays, but church services are at 9:00, 10:30, and noon, with the 2nd service in Gregorian Chant.  The Museum (which has some cool tapestries, illuminated manuscripts, sculptures, etc.) is open only on Sundays during the winter.
  • Dress: Like the Vatican, both women and men need to have covered shoulders and kneecaps.
  • Bathrooms: The only public restroom is in the parking lot, so take care of your business on the way in!
  • Tours: The abbey offers some tours of the grounds, but Aldo's ITT tour is highly recommended.
  • Websites:

Where to Eat

  • Varlese - right off the A1 Cassino exit, across from the Etra Hotel (via Ausonia 21, 077-630-0083), a bar/restaurant with a big parking lot; nice buffet, good stop for a quick but not too expensive meal, rec'd by Alice.
  • Hotel Alba/Da Mario - via di Biasio 53, 077-622-558, closed Tues, seasonal specials in a nice hotel restaurant with a beautiful terrace, ~€30, rec'd by Michelin.
  • La Colombaia - via Sant'Angelo 43, 077-630-0892, closed Sun eve, Mon, daily changing fish specialties in a charming outdoor setting, menus from €18 to €28, rec'd by Michelin.
  • Outside of Cassino
    • In Casalvieri (~30 min north): Osteria del Tempo Perso, piazza San Rocco 13, 077-663-8039, closed Mon, open only for dinner (except Sun), rustic, simple, fresh dishes, ~€20-25, rec'd by Slow Food Osterie d'Italia and Gambero Rosso.
    • In Acquafondata (~30 min southwest): Vittoria, piazza dei Caduti 6, 077-658-4419, closed Wed, mountain cuisine such as wild boar and lamb, ~€15-25, rec'd by Alice.
    • In Castrocielo (~30 min west): Villa Euchelia, via Giovenale, 077-679-9829, closed Wed lunch, Tues, 1700's villa, lots of guidebooks recommend this great spot (also has rooms available), traditional dishes, ~€30-40, rec'd by Panorama, Gambero Rosso, Espresso, Michelin, and TCI.
    • In Amaseno (~1 hour west): Al Solito Posto, via Auricola 8, 077-565-428, closed Mon, rustic restaurant specializing in stuff made from Buffalo (meat, cheese, etc.) but also with good fish dishes, reservations are a must for this popular spot, ~€25, rec'd by Slow Food Osterie d'Italia.
    • In Ceprano (~1 hour west): Enoteca Federici, piazza Maritir di Via Fani 8, 077-591-4048, closed Tues, local cuisine, good wines, great pastries, grilled meats, ~€25-30, rec'd by Slow Food Osterie d'Italia.

Pontine Islands

These islands can be reached via ferry from Naples (see Ferry page). You can also get here via ferries from Anzio (on Vetor), Terracina (via NLG [Ponza only] and SNAP), Formia (via SNAP and Laziomar, which occasionally also serves Terracina and Anzio), and San Felice Circeo (Gentur/Circeoponza, Ponza only).

Ponza

  • This page calls Ponza "Italy's best-kept secret" and rec's Orestorante and Acqua Pazza as places to eat

Ventotene

Elsewhere in Lazio

The following are other recommended destinations in Lazio:
  • Sermoneta - great medieval town near Latina; the castle is one of a kind and is available for tours. 
  • Piana delle Orme - wonderful war and industrial museum. Originally a private collection, the museum houses working industrial and military equipment in a series of small buildings: "Dedicated to the twentieth century, the Museum is a journey through 50 years of Italian history. "   Agrituristico restaurant on-site featuring a smattering of the local cuisine.
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