LAKE TO LAKE hike:
Nemi to Castel Gandolfo
PARCO DEI CASTELLI ROMANI, ITALY
There are many places where I find myself in rapture and forests and mountains
are no-brainers. They always have an effect on me the way candy stores have
that effect on children. The vibrant colors, the smells, the sounds of birds and
small animals rustling about - it truly is special for me. Only about 20 miles
south of Rome, most people don't realize that one can escape its madness
and be immersed in nature.
On a chilly September morning, I got on the Parco dei Castello Romani trail of
the Via Francigena in Nemi. The destination was north to Castel Gandolfo,
a town made popular by the Papal summer residence, which, as of the date
of this blog post, has since been relinquished by the Vatican and will now be
converted to a museum and opened to the public after centuries of exclusivity.
The trail would start with still water views of Lake Nemi with a charming hilltop
village mirroring itself on the blue waters of Lake Albano. There was a brief
walk in the charming and colorful cobbled Nemi then it would snake through
Monte Gentile in Parco dei Castelli Romani and around Lake Albano. The
trail would drop right in Castel Gandolfo, but not before stopping
at an ancient ruins of a small amphitheater.
This is an easy hike with minimal elevation gain and only close to 6 mile
in distance. There are several trails to choose from though, and for trip
planning, I would suggest the regional park website here with maps
here. Parts of the trail visibly overlap with some ancient roads.
The trail is multi-use and is open for both hiking and mountain bikes.
ROMAN AMPhITHEATER RUINS IN ALBANO
Anfiteatro Severiano dates back to the 3rd century and has a capacity
of 10,000 spectators. And this is perhaps one of the truly remarkable
aspects about the Italian Wonder Ways paths - there are many places
rife with opportunities to learn about history.
Castel Gandolfo has probably made its name as the Papal summer
retreat. However, as the date of this writing, I had read that the Vatican
has relinquished the palatial property and will now be opened to the public
as a museum. We were given a private tour of the massive and beautifully
maintained grounds, and if I were to be brutally honest, it was a bit extravagant.
The town of Castel Gandolfo itself is a town worthy of a visit, especially
if you are already in Rome. There is a charming and quiet town square
with small cafes and restaurants, some of which face the blue waters of
Lake Albano. We were hosted for lunch at Antica Bottega Arte e Vino,
an intimate restaurant decorated with antique and artistic flair serving
fantastic regional food and wine.
IF YOU GO
I'm a huge fan of staying in Italian farmhouses in the countryside (called "agriturismo"
in Italy). Not only do you get the serene landscape of Italy, but most often than not,
these places offer farm-to-table dining in the authentic Italian way.
I Casali del Pino is a special place with beautiful grounds and organic food served
on the property. When I checked, room rates for November average around $88,
which is less expensive than most mediocre hotels in America. The food here is
outstanding and organic, so if anything, make a meal at this place part of your plan.
I Casali del Pino is located about 30 minutes north of central Rome. The address is
Via Giacomo Andreassi, 30, Rome, Italy. Official website here.
Alternatively, there is Hotel Villa Maria. It's clean and modern with some
boutique hotel touches. It is located at Via della Camilluccia 687, Rome, Italy.
Official website here.
I'm a fan of Antica Bottega Arte e Vino in Castel Gandolfo located
at Corso Republica, 60, Castel Gandolfo. The food and wine is great and the ambience
has so much character its antique decor.
For more information about the hikes in the area, check out Life Go Park here.
Here's a Strava profile of this hike, but know that again, I did not start tracking until after
the 1st or 2nd mile.
Disclosure: I was a guest of Italian Wonder Ways and Visit Lazio during this trip, but all opinions
in this and in related posts are my own.
What is Italian Wonder Ways anyway? Funny you should ask. Check out the prelude here.