Italy – Experience Rome, Italy
Rome is a heady blend of artistic and architectural masterpieces, classical ruins, and extravagant baroque churches and piazzas. The places evoke the people — Roman emperors concerned with outdoing their predecessors in grandeur, powerful prelates enmeshed in intricate scandals, geniuses summoned by popes to add to the Vatican’s treasures, a dictator who left his mark on the city before his imperial dreams were shattered, and the contemporary Romans, full of the earthy energy that makes this a city of unique vitality.
Today Rome’s formidable legacy is upheld by its people, their history knit into the fabric of their everyday lives. Students walk dogs in the park that was once the mausoleum of the family of the emperor Augustus; Raphaelesque Madonnas line up for buses on busy corners; a priest in flowing robes walks through a medieval piazza talking on a cell phone. Modern Rome has one foot in the past, one in the present — a delightful stance that allows you to have an espresso in a square designed by Bernini, then take the Metro back to your hotel room in a renovated Renaissance palace.
The Province of Rome is a matching frame for the many treasures of the Capital, and the surrounding area has, more or less directly, experienced the influence of the history of the Eternal City.
The Region of Lazio offers everything from sea and nature to good food and lovely villages rich in history and art. And around Rome, the hills, lakes, rivers and vineyards make for a kaleidoscope of diversity and attractions for nature lovers.
Facing the Tyrrhenian Sea, The Province enjoys a Mediterranean climate on the coast and a continental one further inland. The coast stretches from the area including Fiumicino and the towns overlooking Lake Bracciano (the largest in the province) to the border with the Province of Latina.
In the northwest are the Tolfa and Sabatini Mountains, along with the nature reserves of Macchiagrande, Macchiatonda, Torre Flavia and Canale Monterano. In the Tiber Valley lie the Park of Valle del Treja, and the nature reserves of Nazzano-Tevere-Farfa and of Mount Soratte.
The Tiburtino-Sublacense area, crossed by the River Aniene, includes the regional parks of the Lucretili and Simbruini Mountains. The territory that comprises the Prenestina area and the Lepini Mountains is nestled between the Aniene Valley and the Albani Hills. The volcanic Lakes of Nemi and Albano characterize the Castelli Romani area – a holiday resort since ancient times – thanks to the mild climate and the gentle landscape.
Even before becoming the Capital of the Italian Republic, Rome had always played a key role, in Italy as well as in Europe. Caput Mundi in Roman times and later seat of the papacy and the Capital of the Kingdom of Italy, on an international level Rome has always been a major political, cultural and spiritual influence.
What to See
The influence of the glorious history of the Eternal City makes this area rich in tourist attractions and destinations. Ancient traces of Roman roads, aqueducts and imperial residences are fascinating for fans of archaeology: those who want to retrace the trail of the Etruscans and Romans are offered one of the areas in the world most dense with historical remnants and sites.
In the north of Rome Province lies the enchanting scenery of Lake Bracciano. The Orsini-Odescalchi Castle stands majestically in the heart of town and is described as one of the most beautiful feudal residences in Europe, for its combination of military structure and manor house, and for its impressive view on the lake below.
Closer to the coast, the Etruscan necropolis of Banditaccia in Cerveteri is an example of ancient Etruscan funerary architecture that, given its characteristics, is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Past the seaside resorts of Ladispoli, Fregene and Fiumicino, one arrives at Ostia Lido, regarded as the local beach for Rome’s inhabitants; heading inland, amidst a green landscape, the excavations of Ostia Antica are what remains of the most ancient colony of Rome, that was also a commercial and port city. Its museum conserves archaeological finds of inestimable value, found during excavations.
In the southern area of the Province, the group of towns known as the Castelli Romani is a tourist destination where one can enjoy the charm of the high hill scenery, a mild climate, a genuine cuisine, and Classical and Medieval sites with works of artistic and historical relevance.
In Castel Gandolfo, the Papal summer residence on Lake Albano, one can visit the Church of San Tommaso designed by Gian Luigi Bernini, while in Frascati, Villa Aldobrandini is the most famous Renaissance residence of the Castelli Romani, with its park, statues and fountains with water displays.
Then, moving back inland, Tivoli is home to the the ancient and opulent Villa Adriana, Villa d’Este and Villa Gregoriana. Due to its size and the magnificence of its interiors, the first of these has the distinction of being the largest villa ever built in Antiquity, on the orders of Emperor Hadrian. Villa d’Este comes to mind for its terraced garden, where tucked away fountains and water displays. Meanwhile, the charming Villa Gregoriana boasts the scintillating spectacle of the Cascata Grande (Great Waterfall), over 328 feet high.
Finally, Rome: the Capital, Caput Mundi, the navel of the world, all roads lead to it… Piazza Venezia can be regarded as its central core, with the unmistakable Vittoriano. Behind it are Piazza del Campidoglio, designed by Michelangelo Buonarroti, and the Musei Capitolini (Capitoline Museums), the Church of Santa Maria in Aracoeli, the Fori Imperiali with the Colosseum, symbol of Rome, in the background, as well as the Arch of Constantine, just one more of the city’s many well-known marvels.
The Circus Maximus, the Pyramid of Caius Cestius, the Bocca della Verità (Mouth of Truth), and the Renaissance and Baroque palazzi are other elements that contribute to Rome’s singularity in the world. Along Via del Corso, nestled in the streets on the right, are Fontana di Trevi and Piazza di Spagna (Spanish Steps), famous for its Trinità dei Monti stairway.
Then, one arrives at the Pantheon, housing the tomb of the famous Raffaello Sanzio and the Churches of San Luigi dei Francesi, Santa Maria della Pace, and Santa Maria in Cosmedin. Finally, the Vatican City, the smallest country in the world and its magnificent Saint Peter’s Basilica, embraced by Bernini’s famous colonnade, are marvelous beauties that everyone visiting Rome should experience at least once.
Anche la “Roma sotterranea”, come quella svelata dalle catacombe di San Callisto sull’Appia Antica, rivelerà delle incantevoli sorprese ai visitatori, ai curiosi, agli appassionati di arte, storia e archeologia.
Rome underground is just as inspiring as that above: for instance the Catacombs of San Callisto on the Ancient Appian Way reveals enchanting surprises for art, history and archaeology enthusiasts – and for the merely curious.
What to Do
The diversity of the terrain in the Province of Rome makes it possible to practice any kind of sporting activity, from hiking to water sports.
The Roman coastline, which stretches for about 81 mi, is dotted with seaside resorts where one can practice nautical sports; in summer it becomes a nightlife hot spot, title that, for rest of the year, is reserved for the bars and restaurants of the Capital.
On Lake Albano it is possible to practice canoeing, rowing and mountain biking. During the summer the Teatro Romano of Ostia Antica hosts an extensive calendar of events and shows, in the beautiful setting of the Ostia archaeological site that exudes an air of magic. The spas in and around Rome date back to ancient times: the Terme (Baths) di Caracalla in the heart of the city are a good example. Those wishing to devote time to their own well-being can spend pleasant and carefree days in the baths of Rome in Tivoli, the terme of Cretone in Palombara Sabina or those of Stigliano in Canale Monterano.
Then, the equipped facilities of Monte Livata near Subiaco and the Terminillo are always ready to welcome ski enthusiasts.
Worth a mention is certainly the Castelli Romani Wine Route, wine-themed itineraries that pair excellently with historical, archaeological and natural tours to admire the beauties of the territory.
Nature and archaeological excursions are ideal within the Regional Park of Castelli Romani, with its flora and fauna and opportunities for trekking and bird watching.
In a land with such an ancient history, many fairs and festivals have been passed down over the course of time. One of the most famous and spectacular events is the Infiorata del Corpus Domini in Genzano, where an impressive colorful carpet made with a variety of flowers winds along the town’s streets to decorate a typical religious procession.
The traditional Palio delle Contrade (Tournament of the City Wards) takes place in Allumiere, during which the six city wards compete in choreographed donkey races. Of no less importance are festivals and fairs dedicated to produce, such as those dedicated to wine in Marino, strawberries in Nemi, and artichokes in Ladispoli.
Also typical are antiques markets, particularly in the Antico Borgo in Bracciano, with displays of old copper pots and lamps in wrought iron; and the market of the Bancarelle (stalls) in Campagna, one of the most famous in Italy.
Wine, olive oil, sausages and cheese are the treasures of this land and the ingredients of a genuine culinary tradition of peasant origins.
In the area of Cerveteri, tasty Roman artichokes are grown, while the surroundings of Nemi are famous for their delicious strawberries.
Bread is a specialty of Lariano and Genzano; porchetta (whole roasted pig) has its home in Ariccia, where it is eaten in the characteristic fraschette; and cherries are produced in Palombara Sabina.
Among other products are chestnuts, broad beans, peaches, figs and olives.
The typical dishes of Lazio are the same as the universally-known dishes of Roman cuisine: bucatini all’amatriciana, prepared using the famous guanciale (a type of bacon) cut into cubes; rigatoni alla carbonara; spaghetti with cheese and pepper (cacio e pepe); and penne all’arrabbiata.
Also, vegetable and legume soups prepared with beans, broad beans, chickpeas and lentils are typical to the Roman countryside.
Among the meat dishes, the abbacchio (lamb) is the true champion, but also typical are the coda alla vaccinara (oxtail), tripe and pajata.
A cheese typical of Lazio is the pecorino (sheep-milk cheese) with an intense flavor, often added to pasta dishes or eaten in slivers.
Baked goods are simple and fragrant: bread, such as that from Genzano, has been accredited IGT status. Meanwhile, tozzetti; mostaccioli; wine doughnuts and the famous Pupazza di Frascati are alla common treats.
Eleven typical DOC wines are produced in the area: Zagarolo, Montecompatri-Colonna, Frascati, Marino, Colli Albani, Colli Lanuvini, Velletri, Cesanese di Olevano Romano, Genazzano, Castelli Romani and Cori. Numerous table wines and IGT wines also originate in the Province.
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