Itinerary: Castel Gandolfo, Albano Laziale, Ariccia, Genzano di Roma, Nemi
Discovery tour of the beautiful lakes of the Castelli Romani
Take a day off from the noise of the 'Eternal City' of Rome and discover, a few kilometers southwest, the two beautiful lakes. This area is called 'Castelli Romani' (Roman Castles) because here, on the gentle hills surrounding Rome, there are several castles built in the Middle Ages by the wealthy feudal families of Rome.
The two lakes you are going to visit are the lake of Albano (pic n°3) and the lake of Nemi (pic n°2). Both of them are volcanic lakes. Lake Albano with its 168 meters is the deepest volcanic lake in Italy. It has an elongated oval shape with steep slopes on the southern side and more smooth ones on the northern side.
The lake of Nemi, located not far from the lake of Albano, has a maximum depth of 33 meters. Even in ancient times, this tiny lake was considered a favorite place by the Romans who used to come here on vacation to enjoy nature and the excellent weather.
The most important villages around the lakes:
Probably the most famous village in this area is Castel Gandolfo, (pic n°1) located at the top of a hill overlooking Lake Albano, also well-known as the summer residence of the Pope. Do not miss a visit to the Vatican Museum and the beautiful Barberini Gardens!
Albano Laziale is located at the foot of the Alban Hills near lake Albano in the mid of vineyards and olive trees.
What to see here: first, there is the Cathedral dedicated to St. Pancras martyr and Constantine's Basilica. Further along, there is the Church of St. Maria della Rotonda, with a bell tower of the twelfth century. Further, there are still the 'Cisternoni', large underground reservoirs (tanks) of water entirely carved in stone (from the second century), and the amphitheater also from the second century.
Along the road between Castel Gandolfo and Nemi, you can visit Ariccia. To reach the village you have to cross the bridge of Ariccia, a nineteenth-century bridge that was destroyed and rebuilt after the last war. The complex of Piazza della Repubblica was created by Bernini at the behest of the Chigi family between 1661 and 1664. They have also rebuilt the old palace in order to turn it into the home of the Chigi (pic n°4). It is a square-shaped building with corner towers and rich interiors.
Ariccia is also famous for its "porchetta" (roast suckling pig) that can be enjoyed in one of the many local "fraschette" (a kind of restaurant/tavern).
Genzano (pic n°5) is famous for its production of flowers which are used each year in June for the famous 'Infiorata' when the pavement of a whole street is decorated with 'paintings' made by flower petals.
Nemi (pic n°6), located on the shoreside of the namesake lake, is a small village wrapped around its ancient castle and perched on a hill overlooking its tiny lake that is also called "the mirror of Goddess Diana". Also, Nemi is famous for its year-round growing of strawberries and flowers.
Departure: Castel Gandolfo
Length: Km 16
Castel Gandolfo, the summer residence of the Pope (pic n°1); The lake of Nemi (pic n°2); The lake of Albano (pic n°3); Ariccia, Chigi's Palace (pic n°4); Genzano (pic n°5); The village of Nemi (pic n°6)