Southeast of Rome you’ll find Castelli Romani, a collection of small villages situated in the open air and rolling hills of the Italian countryside. Castelli Romani has long been the playground of Rome’s wealthiest citizens, and the short distance from the congested city to the relaxing and charming country views is almost dumbfounding.
In the days of old, wealthy Roman households would create caravans of carts and carriages and drive half a day outside of the city to the sprawling villas and palaces that still dot the landscape today. In fact, the name of this region translates to “Roman Castles” thanks to the sheer number of the large structures.
Today it is only a twenty-five minute drive outside of Rome to visit the cooler, more picturesque region. The charm and peace offered by the small villages draws many tourists who visit for the day or come and stay, jutting into Rome by day to explore before retreating to the tranquility of the hills and exquisite views in the evenings.
The Sights of Castelli Romani
Visiting Castelli Romani lets you explore some of the works of masters well outside the crowded museums of Rome. Many of the palaces and villas in the region are created and decorated by famed artists of old. Lake Nemi and Lake Albano are deep blue crater lakes surrounded by hills dotted with both restored and ruined buildings and serve as the center of the picturesque landscapes.
The most well-known of the Castelli Romani, Frascati is known for its white wine production and local fare. Visitors arrive from Rome for a pleasant day trip with fresh food and might stop to enjoy the gardens of Villa Aldobrandini. This is also the most visited of the Castelli Romani.
This beautiful village is the summer home of the Pope. The hill is dominated by the Papal palace and the gardens that were a favorite of Pope John Paul II. Benedict XVI, his successor plans to spend his summers in the charming village as well.
Above Lake Nemi is Genzano, a bustling tourist destination. The pretty square of the town features a main shopping plaza and a beautiful fountain with carved columns. While in Genzano, be sure to visit the church of S. Maria della Cima, and walk by the ducal palace – Palazzo Sforza Cesarini. Unfortunately, the ground floor windows of the palace have been boarded up, however.