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(Apr 27, 2012)
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around rome roman castles



               The Roman Castles

  around rome with Latium family holidays

The Roman Castles, "invisible castles", are famous since the antiquity for their natural and gastronomical attractions but, shadowed by the overwhelming comparison with the artistical richness of the near Rome, and they show to visitors their own monuments, either small or big, their own treasures, details that recall of remote and recent times.

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For this reason "invisible", as to discover and enliven them we should sharpen our sight and follow the paths of memory. At few kilometres from Rome, and linked to the eternal town by an historical continuity, the area is famous with the name "Roman Castles". The same origins of Rome are strictly linked to the historical events of Alba Longa, presumably the nowaday Castel Gandolfo, founded by Ascanio, the son of Enea and Creusa, in 1230 B.C.

In the Roman Age, in the entire area, crossed by the consular roads Latina and Appian Way, spread out gorgeous villas, where rich Romans used to practice the noble art of “otium” (idleness). So rose the villas of Domitian in Albano, of Cicero, Vitellius and Pompeus Magnum and many others. In more ancient times the Latins used to meet in in the Ferentino forest, near Marino, to worship Jupiter Laziale in his temple on the crest of Mt. Cavo; from archaic times, a primordial and cruel ritual was celebrated in the woods sacred to Diana, goddes of the hunting and of the moon, and from the I cent. B.C. mithraic rites took place in secret caves. Along the consular roads rose tumbs, barrows among which, still visible, the famous one called “of the Orazi and Curiazi” in Albano. In the Christian Age catacombs were dug like those in the Ad Decimum area or in Albano.

Going on with your tour you must having done a few hikes and, on your way to Rocca di Papa, aimed for Subiaco via the Piane del Fucino and then backtrack through Capistrello and the Monti Simbruini range for a distance of about 135 Km. The road through the Simbruini is narrow, tortuous and the scenery wild.

From here the airport of Fiumicino Rocca di papa is only 50 Km. away and it is rather easy to get to it.

You must spend some days to Rocca di Papa because it is the highest town of all the Roman Castles and a good choice it was for it offered a great view and coolness in the air.

The Alban Hills, where the dozen towns within are collectively called Castelli Romani, are basically a volcanic group of hills within a vast crater the circumference of which is more than 60 Km.

The center of this large crater is the smaller crater of Monte Cavo (948 m. asl) bordered by others such as the crater-lakes of Nemi and Albano and the basin of Ariccia.




Rocca di Papa is picturesquely perched on the slope of Monte Cavo. On the summit of this mountain, the Mons Albanus of the Romans, stood the most venerable sanctuary (Jupiter Latialis) of the 47 towns of the Latin Confederation; here they celebrated, every year, the great sacrificial festival of the Feriae Latinae. The exact location of the temple is unknown because Cardinal York is said to have used, in 1783, the last remains of the temple's ruins to build a monastery.

Very interesting is a walk up to the top of the town through the narrow streets.


Lanuvio was built on the site of ancient Lanuvium, famous for its temple of Juno Sospita. It preserves ruined temples, a theatre, a few Roman walls and the picturesque Fontana degli Scogli designed by the architect Carlo Fontana in 1675

 Genzano is built terrace-wise on the outer slope of the cone of Lago di Nemi. From the Belvedere, at the top of the town, you can overlook the lake 100 meters below.

Genzano is famous for the festivity that since 1778 attracts thousand of tourist on the Sunday after Corpus Domini which is called "Infiorata"; on this day Italo Belardi street is covered by a carpet of flowers divided in many panels artistically arranged to represent various subjects.

 Castel Gandolfo occupies the site of Alba Longa, the city founded, according to the legend, by Ascanius, son of Aeneas. Since the 1600 the Popes have had their summer residence established here, overlooking lake Albano. Just below the main piazza, which boasts an elegant fountain and a church by Bernini, there is a belvedere from where you can admire the lake and mount Cavo just across.

 Lake of Albano is an elliptical lake occupying an older crater with a maximum depth of 170 meters; it is fed by underground sources and the drainage of the surrounding cone.

  Albano Laziale, said to be the site of Alba Longa by some experts, sprung up from the Castra Albana established by Septimius Severus in circa 195 A.D.

The Communal Palace is built on the ruins of the thermae and has Italian style gardens and a belvedere overlooking the vast Campagna Romana;Santa Maria della Rotonda is a peculiar circular edifice that once was a nympheum in the Villa of Domitian.

Just outside the town walls stands the Tomb of the Horatii and Curiatii

 Ariccia stands in the elliptical depression that once was a crater in the midst of delightful woods. This town is famous for the Porchetta, a  very delicious and succulent roasted suckling pig often served in a sandwich from the various stands on the side of the road.

From Albano Laziale you must arrive to Ariccia via an impressive 300 meters long and 59 meters high viaduct, built in 1854 on three levels of arches.

The Palazzo Chigi designed by Bernini dominates with its quadrangular towers the main piazza, and across it stands the round church of the Assunta, built by Bernini in 1664, with a large dome and two towers.

 The town of Nemi is picturesquely situated above the north east bank of the lake.

The beautiful lake of Nemi, get inside ancient boat of Rome gem of the Alban hills, lying deep within a ring of wooded hills is the ancient Nemorensis Lacus, also called the "Mirror of Diana", to whom a sacred grove (nemus) and temple were consecrated in the vicinity.


 Subiaco , the ancient Sublaqueum (under the water) sprung up on the grounds of a extensive villa built by Nero, and embellished by three artificial lakes, the "Sumbruina stagna" of Tacitus. The villa and the lakes disappeared when the dam broke, thus its name.

The present small town spreads picturesquely around the slopes of a hill in an amphitheater of mountains.

Benedict of Nursia (Norcia) settled in this valley of the Aniene around 480; he and his numerous pupils established 12 monasteries in the area, of which only the Monastero of S. Scolastica (dedicated in 981 to his saint sister) survives.

* In 1465 in the Monastery of S. Scolastica was printed, for the first time in Italy, a book (Cicero's "De Oratore") published by Arnold Pannartz and Conrad Schwienheim of Germany.

The monastery has three cloisters, one built in the 16c. and had to be repaired after the damages of the last war; the second cloister, built originally in 1052, was rebuilt in the 14c. and displays a splendid pointed arcade in late German Gothic style (15c.); The third has a fine Romanesque arcaded court with Cosmatesque capitals and mosaics. The neo-classic church by Quarenghi, originally consecrated by Benedict VII, has a fine carved choir-stalls and some frescoes of 1426. The remarkable Romanesque Campanile was built in 1052-53.

The Monastero di S. Benedetto also called "Sacro Speco" is a picturesque monastery built on a cliff where we find the cave (speco) used by St. Benedict as a hermitage for three years. The style is mainly a 13c. Cistercian Gothic, with the upper church having 14c. alterations. The monastery displays very important frescoes of the 9 and 10c. with the earliest painting dated from around the 800 depicting a Madonna and Child with Saints. Others frescoes date from the 13c. Roman school and from the 14c. Siennese school.



On our way to Tivoli, 43 Km. from Subiaco, you have to visit the small and picturesque hill village of Anticoli Corrado (512 m. asl) 20 Km. north of Subiaco. What attracted people to visit Anticoli Corrado was the lofty and medieval aspect of the village in addition to the written footnote that the women from here were renowned (still?) for their beauty and were much employed by the artists in Rome (Muirheads's Southern Italy; Blue Guides, 1925). When you arrive in the large main piazza you notice only a few old people sitting on shaded benches gossiping with the parish priest.

Tivoli, the ancient Tibur, is fabled to have been founded long before Rome by a colony of Siculi. It is splendidly situated on a limestone chain on the left banks of the river Aniene where its water falls 106 meters. Spleeping in Tivoli a very nice B&B in Tivoli. 

The town flourished under the Roman emperor Hadrian.

Hadrian's villa, occupying with its magnificent grounds a vast area just 6 Km. south of the town, was created as a marvel of architecture by Hadrian himself between 125 and 135 A.D.

The systematic excavation of the site only began in 1950, but these magnificent ruins have inspired the imagination of numerous architects since the Renaissance.

Villa d'Este was built on a site, purchased by Cardinal Ippolito d'Este in 1550, originally occupied by a Benedictine monastery. The long three-storied palace, one of the finest of the Renaissance, was built by Pirro Ligorio the great Mannerist architect which also laid out the grounds.

In the 35,000 sq. meters area of the garden there are 255 waterfalls, 60 springs, 50 fountains, 50 jets, 250 sprays, 100 ponds; it draws 1,200 litres per second from the Aniene river. Tourist information about Villa d'Este

The great waterfall (106 meters drop).


Palestrina is very close to Valmontone and only 27 Km. south of Tivoli, where we will visit the area where the great Temple of Fortuna Primigenia once stood.

Palestrina, the Roman Praeneste, is one of the most ancient towns in Italy existing since the 8c. B.C; its history is lost in the mythology. The city is also the birthplace of Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (1524-94) the great composer.

The Temple of Fortuna Primigenia used to rise up from the via degli Arconi, all the way to the hilltop. It contained various stairways, porches, exedrea, arches, columns, statues and fountains. Lateral stairways led to the first level where today is a park. A stairway led to the second level where Piazza Margherita is now, with the Cathedral and the Corso. This level was called the Hall level, because the Oracle dwelt there. Other stairways led to the third level, now via del Borgo, and to the fourth level, now via Barberini and Piazza della Cortina, where a great rectangular portico, topped by a huge hemicycle, held a little round temple with the statue of the Goddess. The sweeping façade of the Palace Colonna-Barberini, built at the top of the hill in the 11c. and largely restored in 1493, has maintained the semicircular line of the stairway.

The building now houses the Archeological Museum with finds from the temple district. Among its most important items are some engraved bronze mirrors and the extensive Nile mosaic dated from the 1c. B.C.

 Three kilometers further up from the Palazzo Colonna-Barberini there is a place called Castel San Pietro Romano with the ruins of a 14c. fortress and with a sweeping view as far as Rome.

Come tosee rome,  Park rome,   Zoo marine rome  and magicland rome.

Enjoy rome and have a nice day in rome with kids. See the largest outlet in rome  Family  are welcome and have fun in rome and around rome. Those are the top 10 things to do in rome.