LAZIO: A REGION OF TRADITION, NATURE AND FLAVOURS.
There is a wealth of natural beauty and unspoilt landscapes, historical intrigue and culinary delights in Lazio that make it a special region which is full of surprises. It has quaint alleyways and charming squares and the entire region offers up stunning ancient villages. Many of these are by the sea or on hillsides. Some of them lie along lakes or rivers and some are embedded on steep and beautiful slopes.
These villages give visitors lasting memories and stories and are perfect for slow, thoughtful tourism. In addition to the medieval district of San Pellegrino and the Gothic Palace of the Popes in Viterbo, the villages of Sermoneta, must not be missed. For decades now they have been renowned tourist destinations thanks to the presence of the magnificent Caetani Castle with its beautiful cathedrals, and Anagni with its crypts and museums. There is a beautiful and striking example of these villages which had been abandoned and then reclaimed called Civita di Bagnoregio.
The so-called “dying city” can only be reached by a long and narrow bridge. It is located on the border with Umbria and overlooks the Tiber Valley. Civita is a candidate for a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Calcata can’t be missed either. Its streets, alleys and tunnels are so charming that its historic centre feels like it is in a fairytale. Ninfa and its gardens, in the province of Latina, are a splendid example of medieval poetry and architecture. It is an untouched site that has been a source of inspiration for artists and writers over the centuries. Castel Gandolfo, also known as the City of Popes, is in the volcanic area of the Castelli Romani. It is still the Pope’s summer residence. It is located between the lake and the sea and is one of the most well-known and visited places in the region. Its position and history ensure that it is included among the Most Beautiful Villages of Italy.
Due a mixture of landscape and history, the culture of Wellness has found a home in the healing waters of the Fiuggi Thermal Baths. These were used by Pliny the Elder and Michelangelo. There are also the Pope’s Thermal Baths in Viterbo, which were used by the Etruscans. Surrounded by churches, shrines and with several underground tours, the city of Rieti is worth a visit. It was both Roman and Medieval, as well as a free city and then the residence of Popes. Latina and its province are teeming with splendid beaches and picturesque villages. One must not forget the National Parks of Circeo and Tuscia; plus Ciociaria which is an oasis of nature and history.
Lakes, countryside, mountains and sea are all very close to Roma. Lazio’s many cities of art make it an ideal place for getting around at a leisurely pace. Either by car, on foot, by bicycle or on horseback; along beaches, on mountain trails, through woods or along rivers, the unspoilt natural environment will not disappoint. The Rete dei Cammini was created by the Lazio Region for the Jubilee. It is a network of paths that wind along suggested routes.
Via Francigena to the north and south from St Francis Way. From the borders of Lazio to Roma and St Benedict’s Way; from Umbria to Campania. There are also protected natural parks and oases that offer different routes for reaching Roma. There is the Etruscan to
Lazio route that makes it is possible to reach the Umbrian border of Lazio from the Monte Mario Nature Reserve in Roma. You will find yourself travelling along stretches of ancient roads with thermal baths, Etruscan necropoli, waterfalls and caves.
The Lazio side of the National Park of Gran Sasso Monti della Laga offers hundreds of trails through unspoilt nature. Many of which are even accessible in snow. Here you can still see bears, wolves, chamois and golden eagles.
Southern Lazio also offers nature trails. For example, in the National Park of Circeo you can walk on Roman trails like the ancient Via Flacca. These run along cliffs which are also perfect for climbing. There are hundreds of climbing trails between Sperlonga, Itri and Monte Orlando in Gaeta. The latter offers a wall for practising a type of sea “mountaineering”, with a famous climb overlooking the cobalt blue of the Gulf.
The underwater tours the region offers can’t be missed either. The beautiful seabeds of the Pontine Islands should be visited. Here you can go hunting for wrecks of submerged ships, exploring underwater caves, and swimming over plains of Poseidon’s Grass and lobsters. Diving along the underwater cordillera near Scoglio Grosso is highly recommended. It is a destination that is well known to underwater enthusiasts.
The mountains along the region’s borders are no less impressive. Terminillo and Simbruini offer trails of various levels of difficulty throughout the year. They are also with well-equipped ski resorts in winter.
FOOD AND WINE
Discovering Lazio through culinary tours is certainly the tastiest way to reach the heart of Italy. The region is rich in traditional products for a Mediterranean diet as their growth and ripening is supported by the ideal conditions of the local climate. Short trips can be organised within each province in order to discover authentic flavours. Stop in small trattorias, restaurants and agrotourism facilities, even inside Lazio’s Parks, where traditional dishes and their reinterpretations by great chefs can be enjoyed. All of these dishes can be accompanied by excellent local wines.
At the end of the trip visitors can bring back excellent local produce, along with their memories of the amazing flavours. There are day excursions to visit vineyards, wine cellars, farms and mills that are open to the public and that can’t be missed.
Lazio’s traditional gastronomy is almost unchanged in time. Many characteristics, such as strongly flavoured cured meats, like coppiette, strips of horse meat dried with chili pepper, are still popular today. There are also first courses such as the typical bucatini from Amatrice in the Reatini Mountains or Bucatini all’Amatriciana, to be precise, that are firm favourites. Not forgetting ‘pajata’, the traditional Roman gnocchi which is known around the world.
The famous porchetta, the reigning queen of the Castelli Romani, and coda alla vaccinara, fava beans with Pecorino Romano cheese, are a must try for visitors to the region. Artichokes ‘alla Romana’ or ‘alla Giudia‘ taken from Jewish cuisine, are just another example of the variety of products on offer.
In the Summer the Nemi variety of strawberries of the Castelli Romani and those from Terracina are abundant. In the Winter the chestnuts of the Cimini Mountains have always been found on the tables of Lazio’s homes. The region also offers numerous varieties of excellent oils, such as Canino and Sabino.
Historically, the Albani Hills around Lake Albano are a great wine producing region thanks to the volcanic soil. DOC wines are produced throughout Lazio such as Aleatico di Gradoli, Colli Etruschi from Viterbo and Est Est Est from Montefiascone in the Viterbo area. There is also Colli della Sabina from the area around Rieti, up to Moscato di Terracina and Cesanese del Piglio. This was the first DOCG wine in Lazio. These wines are a perfect accompaniment to the food of the region and are a must to be enjoyed by all visitors.