Twice I decided to get out of Rome for day trips.
The first time I took to the hills, the Alban hills, the south eastern ones you gaze out towards from the roof of St Peters in Rome, (if the smog lifts).
The area is a regional park called Parco Regionale dei Castelli Romani and includes wonderful places such as Castel Gandolfo, Nemi and the lovely Frascati.
Theres is a madonna at the end of this path.
Frascati is where I found myself after spending the grand sum of 2 euro and only three stops by train and what a gorgeous hilltown it is. The air is clearer and cooler and fresher. Their are views back to hazy Rome. It’s a nice sized village to stroll about before a delicious lunch and still be back in Rome for sunset.
Three breasted women seem to be well documented about town. 2 for milk and 1 for wine apparently.
Theres a visitors centre and fabulous fashion shops and even a cafe named after a New Zealand Maori name, The Koru Cafe.When I enquired within, hoping to find a Kiwi family I discovered a warm friendly Italian woman who spent much of her childhood in NZ.
Frascati is well known for it’s wines and science laboratories (interestingly).
Making sure the wine really is good.
Wiki also explains that “Frascati is famous for its notable villas, which were built from the 16th century onwards by Popes, cardinals and Roman nobles as “status symbols”…” When I enquired at the visitor centre it seems that they are not overly open to the public but I was there outside tourist season in late October so maybe it is different in the summer.
The visitors centre is in the building on the left and a famous villa is on the hill straight ahead.
It was delightful, I was called out to and then smiled and waved at by an older Italian gentleman from his balcony, :), I browsed and strolled and trailed back to Rome refreshed. I could just move in and live here really. It’s the perfect commuter town to live in for easy access to Rome.
Even a haircut is cheaper than Rome.
And don’t stop at just Frascati. Next time I’ll be aiming for Nemi and it’s fascinating story of the Emporor Caligula’s boats that were sunk in the lake here then retrieved by Mussolini only for them to be destroyed in WWII. Also Castel Gandolf with it’s Popes summer house and lake views.
My second day trip was to Orvieto.
Me and Linkin Park Off to Orvieto this time.
This was much further (my train took 1 & a 1/4 hours)and I had a much more variable train fare, 7 euro to go and 17 to come back. There are fast and slow train options which account for some of the variation, the other is that I didn’t prebuy my return choosing to wing it.
The station area is pretty ordinary but don’t be fooled, head for that hill!
On arrival at Orvieto station you are down at the plains level and Orvieto sits above you high on a rock like a lord surveying his domain. I tripped across the carpark and onto the funicular, (1.30 each way). It chugs us up the hill and there you are, you have joined the lord and can enjoy almighty views.
The funicular track and rail station below.
The Duomo is on my mind and I’m drawn directly there. Historically several Popes have lived in Orvieto due to conflict in Rome and a miracle happened nearby, all of which have contributed to the justification for the construction of this magnificent cathedral, which seems too big for this wee town. I spent lots of time exploring in here.
There are lots of very pretty shops and the town fills with tourists from both Florence to the north and Rome to the South as the morning goes by. There is lots of leatherwear and pinochios so you can tell you’re near Florence.
Even boars heads.
Remember to do all your shopping before you stop and have drinks and eats. I did not and by the time I was ready to start roaming again all the shop doors were locked tight till 4pm. I probably should have done shops first, duomo second. There are lots of other wonderful things to do here which I didn’t, including deep antique wells and caves.
The truth is though that I just got really cold here. I went and bought a thick long sleeved cotton singlet and put on everything I had but the cool, clear air is much colder than the dense, Roman smog and by mid afternoon was driven back to the station and my bed in Rome.
Orvieto is a really gorgeous village and I wasted some of this prescious day by not planning it. If I had it again I really would do this one differently.
Christmas decorations starting to go up.