Among Villa Aldobrandini, bruschetta and white wine, the Papal Palace, Lake Albano, the abbacchio with potatoes and the alleys of Rocca di Papa.
We are in the ancient land of Savelli and Colonna, Orsini and Annibaldi, the aristocratic Roman families of yesteryear. It is the area of the Castelli Romani, a corner of Lazio dotted with ancient manors of noble families, in the fourteenth century a land of refuge for many Romans fleeing the "Avignonese Captivity", a period when the papacy decided to move to Avignon. Centuries later, this volcanic land of hills and lakes, villages and history, is still the destination of many Capitolini. Romans who, for a few hours, leave the capital to enjoy a view, a bit of greenery, moments of peace and maybe a glass of castle wine.
Leaving the last southern offshoots of Rome [A], we take the medieval Via Tuscolana up to Frascati [B], the ancient Tuscolo, a town famous for its villas, overlooking the beautiful Lazio countryside that descends towards the capital.
Don't miss a stop at Villa Aldobrandini, also known as Villa Belvedere, with precious frescoes by baroque and mannerist artists inside, and the beautiful baroque cathedral of San Pietro.
A mouth-watering stop for an aperitif with bruschetta to accompany with a good glass of Frascati, the local white wine.
We continue our trip to Castel Gandolfo [E], skirting a stretch of the Castelli Park, an extraordinary mosaic of vineyards, olive groves and wooded areas, continuing towards Grottaferrata [C] and Marino [D] until we reach the view of Lake Albano, with its 168 metres of depth, the deepest volcanic lake basin in Italy.
The village of Castel Gandolfo dominates the waters, where the summer residence of the popes is joined by several villas and buildings erected since the 17th century.
A walk in the old town centre offers characteristic views and the view of remarkable architectural features including the seventeenth-century Palazzo Pontificio, the heart of the town, commissioned by Pope Urban VIII and designed by Carlo Maderno, and the Pontifical Collegiate Church of San Tommaso da Villanova, designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Enchanting are the views of Lake Albano, framed by woods, which are revealed during the walk through the village.
Lunch in one of the restaurants in the area, enjoying a tasty abbacchio with potatoes, to be accompanied by a Cerveteri Rosso Amabile DOC.
Afternoon in Rocca di Papa [F], a village in the shadow of Monte Cavo which dominates the town from the interesting and suggestive historical centre from the height of its 950 metres.
Leaving the car, we abandon ourselves to curiosity, enchanted by the picturesque views of the centre, its alleys, the verdant panorama of oaks, chestnuts, maples and linden trees that frame it, the smells and scents of its streets and the interesting parish church of Santa Maria Assunta in Cielo.
The evening falls and Rome lights up with thousands of lights. It is time to say goodbye to the land of castles and return to the capital [G].
Photo by Consorzio SBCR