As the age old saying goes, “when in Rome, do as the Romans do.” Many Romans (the Pope included) who have tired of eating glorious food, sipping on a hearty red, and throwing down a few espressos head for the hills. Literally.
More specifically, they get themselves to one or more of the tiny villages, known as the Castelli Romani, clustered together in the Roman Hills. Conveniently, they are all no more than a 40-minute train or bus ride away from Rome, and the journey costs no more than a few euros by train and only €1 by metro.
A visit to any of these unique little towns makes a fabulous day trip! Here are three of our favorites:
This beautiful little town overlooks the turquoise and picture-perfect Lake Albano and lies around 30 km from Rome. While its claim to fame is being home to the Pope’s summer residence, its real charm lies in the gorgeous little piazza which marks the town center and the swathe of little eateries which adjoin the piazza or overlook the lake. And, in case you’re feeling energetic, there are kayaks and canoes for hire.
How to Get There: Trains to Castel Gandolfo run from Termini and leave about every hour. It will take about 40 minutes to get there and a round-trip ticket will cost €3.80.
For the Romans, this is perhaps the most popular of the Castelli Romani. There are three reasons for this: vino, vino, and vino!
Essentially, this village exists for making wine, and it is surrounded by quaint little farmhouses and rolling vineyards. The old town center is home to numerous cellars which offer wine tasting and allow you to take in your own food. Before sampling the famous and delectable local white, you can while away a few hours by visiting the regal Villa Aldobrandini and the ornate Basilica of St. Peter the Apostle.
How to Get There: The cheapest and most convenient way to get to Frascati is by bus, which leaves every 20 minutes from bus stop 6 at Anagnina (the last stop on Metro Line A). Metro tickets run €1 and cover the entire journey. Alternatively, trains leave Termini every hour, and a round-trip journey will cost €3.80.
This fantastic little village is full of delicious food. Ariccia is famous for porchetta, thick cut pork slow roasted in fennel and herbs. One needs no other reason to come here except to go in search of this ridiculously tasty regional specialty. The best place to try porchetta is in one of the town’s many fraschettas, which also serve up other regional specialties in noisy, rustic old taverns. Otherwise, grab a panino on the street, which is almost as good!
How to Get There: Buses to Ariccia leave about every 20 minutes from Anagnina bus station. The journey takes about 30 minutes and costs the price of a metro ticket (€1).