The Lazio lake district
The Lazio Lakes of Bracciano, Vico, and Bolsena north of the city make for an excellent sidetrip from Rome, Italy
Viterbo Province: www.provincia.vt.it
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Lago di Bracciano (the big lake in the background) and Lago di Martignano (the smaller lake in the foreground).An hour's drive northwest of Rome along the Via Cassia (SS2) and Via Braccianense (SS493), where the hills of Lazio shade into southern Tuscany, lies a series of eyelet lakes filling the craters of extinct volcanoes.
Closest to the city, Lake Bracciano is a popular swimming hole for Romans ringed by medieval villages. Dominating its main town of Bracciano (www.comune.bracciano.rm.it) is the glowering 15th-century Castello Orsini–Odescalchi (www.odescalchi.com), an imposing stone edifice creeping with ivy and decorated inside with Renaissance frescoes and Bernini busts. Take the ring road around the lake through olive groves and medieval villages. Pause at Trevignano Romano (www.trevignanoromano.it) to climb to Assunta church, just below the ruined castle, for sweeping lake views and School of Raphael frescoes.
Off Bracciano's southwest shore, outside Anguillara Sabazia on the road to bucolic Lake Martignano, are 375 acres of pastureland belonging to renowned equestrian center and country manor agriturismo I Due Laghi. Lunch in its elegant La Posta de Cavalieri restaurant, where the regional dishes use the farm's own goat cheese and beef (tel. +39-06-9960-7059, www.iduelaghi.it, doubles from €170, from €150 online ).
Wine fit for a bishop
The tipple of choice in these parts is Est! Est! Est!, a straw-colored white from nearby Montefiascone (comune.montefiascone.vt.it) that supposedly got its odd name from a traveling bishop's advance guard who, sent ahead to find an inn for the wine-loving prelate, was so delighted by this local vintage he scrawled above the inn's door the Latin equivalent of "It's here!" three times to signal the boss where to stop.Little Lake Vico is the prettiest in the region, surrounded by the woods and marshlands of a nature preserve and ringed by 3,000-foot peaks and the cinder cone of Mount Venus. The Vico town of Capraola (www.comune.caprarola.vt.it, also useful: www.caprarola.com) is known for the wonderfully pompous Palazzo Farnese, Vignola's masterpiece of 16th century Mannerist architecture slathered inside with Zuccari frescoes.
Detour east to Norchia, a valley lined with 2,500-year-old Etruscan cliff tombs, before continuing north past the provincial capital of Viterbo (www.comune.viterbo.it), an old papal stronghold packed with medieval palaces, churches, and castles.
Lake Bolsena (www.lagobolsena.com; also useful: www.lagodibolsena.org) is the largest volcanic lake in Europe. It is flanked to the south by the resort town of Capodimonte (www.comune.capodimonte.vt.it) and to the north by the small city of Bolsena (www.visitbolsena.it), a site of medieval miracles.
- Planning your day: This is really a two-day trip (and one best done by car), though you could make selective visits of just some of the lakes in just a day.
- Rome day trips and sidetrips
- The Italian Lake District (much bigger and more famous lakes located up north, in the foothills of the Alps)
This material was last updated April 2013. All information was accurate at the time.
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