Latium - Travel Guide and Tourism Information for Latium, Italy

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Latium, Italy

LAZIO
Provinces: Roma, Frosinone, Latina, Rieti, Viterbo

This region stretches from the western buttresses of the Apennines to the Tyrrhenian Sea. The landscape presents flatlands on the coastline and in the hinterland, ridges and calcareous highlands. Latium has four very ancient volcanic areas where the craters of extinct volcanoes form the lakes of Bolsena, Vico, Bracciano, Albano and Nemi.

VITERBO


The centre is Piazza del Plebiscito, an appropriately named square girdled almost entirely by the fifteenth- and sixteenth-century buildings that make up the town's council offices. You can look in on the fine Renaissance courtyard of the main, arcaded building of the Palazzo dei Priori and also see the council chamber itself, decorated with a series of murals depicting Viterbo's history right back to Etruscan times.Also visit Viterbo's oldest quarter, the Quartiere San Pellegrino.

Piazza San Lorenzo is flanked by the town's most historic group of buildings, notably the Palazzo Papale itself, a thirteenth-century structure whose impressive site, is best appreciated from its open Gothic loggia.

Other attractions include the Duomo, a plain Romanesque church that has an elegant striped floor and Piazza della Rocca, a large square dominated by the fierce-looking Rocca Albornoz, home of the small Museo Nazionale, whose archeological collection includes displays of locally unearthed Roman and Etruscan artefacts. Just off the opposite side of the square, the church of San Francesco is also worth a quick look, a high and unusually plain Gothic church that is the burial place of two popes -- Clement IV and Adrian V -- both laid in impressive Cosmatesque tombs on either side of the main altar.

BOLSENA LAKE


The lake occupies the remains of a broad volcanic crater and is the largest of its kind in Europe. The surrounding soil is immensely fertile, and there's a super-mild microclimate, with most of the shores intensely cultivated as a result. This is a great place for swimming, fishing… Capodimonte - On the southern shore, is one of the more developed spots, an attractive town that pushes into the lake on a partly forested peninsula. You may visit the sixteenth-century Palazzo Farnese, built by A. Sangallo. With a boat trip you may run out to the Isola Bisentina, which sports Etruscan tombs, five frescoed chapels, and another Farnese villa - the summer retreat of several popes. Isola Martana is the island where Amalasunta, queen of Ostrogoths was killed. On the opposite shore, Bolsena is the lake's main focus, a relaxed and likeable place that's worth a stop. Medieval nooks and alleyways run off the single main drag, with a well-preserved fourteenth-century Monaldeschi castle perched over the western end. Inside is the local museum collection with local Roman and Etruscan finds. Visit the eleventh-century Santa Cristina church, with Romanesque interior behind a wide Renaissance facade added in 1494. Gradoli - On the shores of the lake and famous for its aleatico wine, like Marta with its cannaiola wine and many fish restaurants.
 

Tarquinia - The great Etruscan city of Tarxuna stood on a strategic highland, now the plain of Civita; its port later became the Roman colony of Gravisca. The town now appears predominantly medieval, dense with towers and buildings dotted with dark volcanic tufo stone. It is set on a hill not far from the original settlement; close by is a renowned Etruscan necropolis, unrivalled for its tomb paintings. The National Museum hosts Etruscan gold jewelry as well as the winged horses, one of the greatest Etruscan masterpieces.

Acquapendente - Santo Sepolcro cathedral with the 9th century crypt, Church of S.Francesco. Nearby the Natural Reserve of Monte Rufeno.

Bagnoregio - Cathedral, S. Bonaventura Church, S. Annunziata.

Blera - Church of S.Maria, Pian del Vescovo Necropolis, one of the most interesting sites and the Necropolis of La Casetta and Il Terrone – these are really worth a visit.

Bagnaia / Villa Lante - In 1566 this village, chosen as bishops’ summer residence, was given to Cardinal Giovanni Francesco Gambara, who commissioned the splendid villa with its numberless water plays in the park, a giardino all’italiana, calling the most illustrious artists to decorate the Villa’s halls, like Zuccari, Tempesta and Lombardelli. Later on, the villa was owned by several cardinals, among whom Ippolito Lante, who gave it its present name.

Caprarola - Initially thought as a fortress by Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, the construction of Palazzo Farnese started in 1525 and was transformed by Vignola in a magnificent palace. Antonio Tempesti, Giovanni Il Vecchio, Giovanni Antonio Da Varese, Raffaellino da Reggio, Giacomo Del Duca and Jacopo Bertoia worked to realize this magnificent summer residence. Two bridges connect the palace to the immense Italian Garden and to the park on the back side of the palace, the Summer and the Winter gardens, encircle the Palace - fountains, grottos, nymphaeums and numerous water games, and statues enrich the way between hedges and large staircases. Among the other monuments in Caprarola town we recommend the Church of S.Teresa, S.Rocco and S.Maria della Consolazione with its gold-decorated coffered ceiling.

Parco dei Mostri / Il Sacro Bosco / Bomarzo - Once one of the most fascinating sites in central Italy, this garden with its strange, disturbing sculptures (taken from Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso), created by Vicino Orsini, Duke of Bomarzo, to rival Caprarola and the Villa Lante is still an extraordinary sight.

Soriano nel Cimino - Orsini Castle, Sanctuary of S.Eutizio, S.Agostino, S.Giorgio, Church of Trinity, Palazzo Chigi Albani and the Papacqua Fountain.

S.Martino al Cimino - Cistercian abbey with a charming interrior, erected in 1150.

Tuscania - An Etrurian town with the 11th century churches of S.Pietro and Santa Maria Maggiore.

Castel Sant'Elia - The most important monument is the S.Elia basilica, built on a pre-existent 8th century pagan temple. The cosmatesque floor and Byzantine-style frescoes can still be seen. The Sanctuary of Maria SS ad Rupes houses an interesting museum for old sacred objects.

Celleno - This old village rises on a hill, its houses partly ruined by violent earthquakes. A wrongly forgotten town with sort of a magical atmosphere.

Chia - A tiny, isolated village, now almost completely ruined, You can see tufo-cut lanes, stone portals and the old medieval centre with high towers overlooking the valley.

Civita Castellana - Famous for its ceramics industry. Visit the 11th century Cathedral. Its portico with mosaic decorations is a great work of art of the 13th century. The Forte Sangallo’s Archaelogical Museum houses lots of interesting finds.

Montefiascone - Church of S,Flaviano, monstrance-rest of Pope Urban IV, Cathedral with its crypt, the Rocca.

Calcata - A very old village, it was an outstanding centre of the Faliscans – now one of the best kept, picturesque towns in the region.

Civita di Bagnoregio - This charming town is erected on a clayey cone and a tufo basement which is relentlessly breaking up, letting houses after house slip into the valley underneath. A violent earthquake in 1695 started this series of landslips and subsequent falls – now Civita is almost deserted. Among its sights, the Church of S.Donato.

RIETI


Occupies the geographical centre of Italy – with a plaque in Piazza di San Rufo to prove it. In the days of the Romans this was a key region, the so-called Umbilicus Italiae. You may visit the Duomo and the Palazzo Vescovile . In the surroundings lies Greccio, a small town with a Franciscan monastery; here St. Francis created the first ever Christmas crib – a real life nativity scene is re-enacted every year.

Information about Rieti and the Sabina


Cassino: The site of an important monastery, the Abbey of Montecassino founded in 529 by St Benedict. This was for many years one of the most important and influential monastic complexes in the Christian world, During World War II the Allies bombed it to ruins in May 1944. It was subsequently rebuilt, and the austere medieval style of its buildings has been faithfully re-created. The church, in a hideously ornate Baroque style, has a small museum containing incunabula, old manuscripts.

Tivoli Just 40km from Rome, perched high on a hill. In classical days it was a retirement town for wealthy Romans; later, during Renaissance times, many important families built their villas up there. Villa d'Este, the country retreat of Cardinal Ippolito d'Este is famous for its fountains of the landscaped gardens, but also for the ground-floor apartments frescoed with scenes of mythology and the history of Tivoli. One of the best-known fountains is the Organ Fountain, which has been returned to its original glory and makes a most imposing sight as it gushes millions of gallons of water down the hillside. Tivoli's other main attraction is Villa Gregoriana, its vegetation is lush and overgrown; there are two main waterfalls – the larger Grande Cascata on the far side, and a small Bernini-designed one at the neck of the gorge. Just outside Tivoli you’ll find Villa Adriana, probably the largest and most sumptuous villa in the Roman Empire, the retirement home of the Emperor Hadrian for a short while and with many well-preserved remains.

CASTELLI ROMANI


Ariccia - Visit the Baroque Palazzo Chigi, restructured by Bernini and Fontana and its park with grottoes and fountains. Frascati - From the Villa Aldobrandini, completed by Maderno and Fontana, you’ll get an astomishing view of Rome. Tusculum - an archaeological park in a beautiful natural setting with the Villa of Emperor Tiberius, the Tusculum Theatre and other remains. Grottaferrata - here you may visit a Byzantine monastery, the Abbey of San Nilo, founded in 1004 by St Nilus.
 

Fregene This is where most Romans go for a sunbath or for a disco-night during the summer, when its beaches get really crowded. The Villaggio dei Pescatori, the more traditional area, still preserves its small houses facing the sea.

Sperlonga South of Rome, a really charming seaside town with whitewashed houses on a steep headland. Beyond the harbour you’ll find clean, sandy beaches and clear water. Nearby, a WWF nature reserve. To the north of the headland, there’s the more modern part of town with many bathing establishments, while the southern part is the lovely one, with lots of trees and greenery lined on the shore.

Anagni Tradition says that the god Saturn founded this ancient city, perched on a ridge overlooking the valley of the river Sacco. Later, it became a sort of papal capital. Here a supporter of the French king Philip IV slapped Boniface VIII and another pope, Alexander III, excommunicated the Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick I Barbarossa.

Sabaudia This seaside town with sandy beaches was developed in the 1930's. The area around is part of the Parco Nazionale del Circeo.

Gaeta A nice seaside town on a rocky hill in Southern Latium. Visit the church of S.Giovanni al Mare and the Santuario del Crocifisso, which is built on a cliff, suspended at about a few hundred meters above the sea. Many beaches and swimming establishments.

Terracina Another seaside town, famous for the Temple of Jupiter Anxur; the main part of the temple is gone but you’ll get a beautiful view from this hilltop site. At the port depart the ferries for the Pontine Islands.

ISOLE PONTINE


Ponza is the main tourist island with two main settlements. Ventotene is smaller and not so crowded – both host several archaeological sites. Palmarola, Zannone and Gravi are inhabitated, but may be visited for a day-trip. All of them are ideal for swimming and diving and have a beautiful landscape.

ROME - Top attractions


St.Peter’s - The Papal Altar, Baldacchino by Bernini, Filarete Door, tomb of Maria Sobieski, Pietà by Michelangelo, the Porta Santa, Bronze statue of St.Peter, Throne of St Peter in Glory, Monument to Pope Alexander VII, Stuart Monument by Canova, the Grottoes, the Treasury and St.Peter’s Sacristy, the Dome

Sistine Chapel - On the walls, The Last Judgment by Michelangelo and other wall frescoes by Perugino and Botticelli, the ceiling with The creation of Adam and Eve and other subjects from the Old Testamen).

Raphael Rooms - Pope Julius II’s private apartments; visit the hall of Constantine, the Room of Heliodorus, the Room of the Segatura and the one of the Fire in the Borgo.

Pantheon - The Roman temple of all the gods ; take a look at the interior of the Dome and the tomb of Raphael.

Colosseum - Rome’s greatest amphitheatre, commissioned by Emperor Vespasian in AD 72

Trevi Fountain - The most famous fountain, completed in 1762

Piazza Navona - A beautiful Baroque Piazza with the Fontana dei Fiumi/the Four Rivers by Bernini, the church of Sant’Agnese in Agone and Palazzo Pamphilj.

Roman Forum - The centre of political, commercial and judicial life in ancient Rome. Visit the Curia, the Basilica Aemilia, Temple of Castor and Pollux, Basilica Julia, Arch of Septimius Severus, Temple of Vesta, Temple of Romulus, House of the Vestal Virgins, the Arch of Titus, Basilica of Constantine

Castel Sant’Angelo - Built as the Emperor Hadrian’s mausoleum in AD 139. Don’t miss the Sala Paolina, a view from the terrace and the staircase of Alexander VI.

Spanish Steps - They link the Church of Trinità dei Monti to Piazza di Spagna. On the piazza you’ll notice the curiously shaped Barcaccia fountain, the Keats - Shelley Memorial house. Nearby the Caffè Greco in Via dei Condotti is one of the oldest cafès in Rome, opened in 1760.

S.Maria Maggiore - A Basilica with a richly decorated interior; the Cappella Paolina, th Tomb of Cardinal Rodriguez, beautiful apse mosaics and a coffered gilded ceiling with the first gold brought from America by Columbus.

And then we may suggest some famous and not so famous spots…

Santa Prassede (with beautiful colourfed mosaics), Vatican Museums (they host one of the world’s most important art collections with Egyptian, Etruscan, Christian, Medieval, 15th - to 19th-century art), Villa Giulia (houses the Museo Nazionale Etrusco with the famous Husband and Wife Sarcophagus), Galleria Borghese (sculptures like Pauline Borghese by Canova, Apollo and Daphne by Bernini), Capitoline Museums (with classical statues, the Etruscan bronze of the She-Wolf, St John the Baptist by Caravaggio), Trajan’s Markets (build in the early 2nd century AD as a complex of 50 shops and offices), Palatine (Temple of Cybele, Domus Flavia, Domus Augustana, House of Livia), Il Gesù (the first Jesuit church in Rome), Pincio Gardens + Piazza del Popolo (a beautiful view on Rome), Palazzo Farnese (imposing Renaissance palace), Campo dè Fiori, (open air market, active nightlife), Fontana delle Tartarughe (the tortoise fountain on a hidden piazza), Tiber Island (S.Bartolomeo, Ponte Fabricio), Via Giulia, S.Maria degli Angeli (incorporated in the ruins of the Baths of Diocletian), Sant’Andrea al Quirinale (known as the Pearl of the Baroque), Domus Aurea (Nero’s Golden House), S.Giovanni in Laterano (Rome’s Duomo), Santa Croce in Gerusalemme (hosts relics of the Holy Cross), S.Clemente ( famous for its catacomb and frescoes), Bocca della Verità (the Mouth of Truth..just put your hand in this marble mouth...), SS.Bonifacio e Alessio (with Cosmati doorway and pavement), Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta (at No 3 have a look through the bronze keyhole and you’ll get a stunning miniature view of St.Peter’s, framed by a tree-lined avenue), S.Maria in Trastevere (facade and apse mosaics),ideal to combine with a walk up to the Gianicolo (for a wonderful view over the city and a romantic stroll), Via Appia Antica (lined with Roman tombs and catacombs, Catacombs of S.Callisto (vast catacombs on four levels), S.Paolo fuori le Mura (this basilica has a beautiful cloister), Ostia Antica (well preserved archaeological site; once Rome’s main commercial port).

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Latium, Italy - Travel Guide and Tourism Information
 
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