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Lazio

Is Lazio one half of the Rome derby (Roma being the other), or is it the region with Rome at its centre ? There are fifty shades of “gricia” on offer for the winner. Where the capital ends is where the real Lazio begins – the Lazio of feasts and parties to mark the passing of time. As versatile, uncomplicated and genuine as its inhabitants, a trip to Lazio is an eternal voyage of discovery in every season.

In the shadow of the powerhouse that is Rome, Lazio waits before revealing itself to visitors. In summer, the beaches of Sabaudia are mobbed by famous and not-so-famous Romans alike. Football star Francesco Totti is a fixture. Every wintersport under the sun is available on Mount Terminillo, and in the other seasons day-trippers invade the lush countryside’s woodlands, hillsides and lakes. “Semo tutti de ’n sentimento” as they say around these parts! Let yourself be embraced by incredible villages such as Civita di Bagnoregio and stunning spas such as those at Fiuggi. And then there are plenty of castles and villas all redolent of the local amatriciana pasta sauce!

The history of Lazio stretches back to before the founding of Rome, and is shrouded in the legend of Ulysses and Aeneas. We’re referring to Etruscans and Sabines, myths and necropolises – the necropolis of Cerveteri being unmissable. Land of Popes and of wines, which successfully combines popular music and spirituality, shepherds and opulence. A multifaceted fresco of the highbrow and the popular. It seems incredible, but only here can you go from the magnificence of Hadrian’s Villa in Tivoli to the “festival of the bean” without batting an eyelid. Rural culture and Mediaeval re-evocations, flag-throwers and fisherfolk, a babel of histories to be discovered.

The cuisine of Lazio is so sensual that it is not unreasonable to talk about there being fifty shades of “gricia”. Gricia is just one of the regional pasta sauces – the others being the better known amatriciana and carbonara – that will delight your taste buds during your trip. What with soft buffalo mozzarella, PDO olive oils, spiced pecorino cheese and full-flavoured wines, a meal here always has the potential to turn into a party. During the region’s numerous, mouthwatering culinary events, you can discover wonderful local food products that are not available in the supermarkets.

Alongside the craft and farmers’ markets that take place right across the region, Lazio also plays host to some of Italy’s largest high-end fashion outlets. In Castel Romano and Valmontone, you can purchase high-fashion garments at particularly attractive prices. Since these outlets are immersed in the countryside, rather than on Rome’s main fashion thoroughfare of Via Condotti, they provide yet another reason, if one were needed, to go exploring beyond the capital.

Lazio is a region full of surprises, its rural panoramas often interrupted by testaments to a truly ancient history. Villages clinging to mountainsides, wild hillsides and woodlands, warm-water pools and thermal spas that appear all of a sudden in the bucolic landscape. Mountains snow-capped in winter and laden with delights in autumn, crystal-clear seas and volcanic lakes . Let yourself be swept away by the breathtaking variety of landscapes in the Lazio region.

The natural landscape is ideal for seasonal sports. Winter skiing on Mount Terminillo, for example, and summer dives in the blue waves of the Circeo National Park. If you love feeling the wind in your hair, how about a sailing trip towards Ponza, or a windsurfing session on Lake Bracciano. On horseback or on the saddle of a bicycle, spring is a beautiful time to get lost amongst the disconnected paths and green woodlands of the Tuscia area. In autumn, those seeking adventure can tackle the rapids of the River Aniene in a canoe, or have great fun doing some rafting in the company of friends.

Lazio is awash with thermal spas. You can choose from the renowned Terme dei Papi in Viterbo and the “white nights” at the spa in Fiuggi. Alternatively, if the weather is clement, you can relax by the seaside or take a silent stroll through the grounds of ancient villas and residences such as those in Tivoli. Also worth exploring are some of the old abandoned villages that have since been converted into fascinating destinations, such as Calcata and Borgo di Tragliata.

In summer, the Circeo coast, Ponza and Ventotene become densely populated, and the seaside resorts offer plenty of opportunities for leisure, whether you long to sip on an aperitif on board a boat, or to feel the scorching rhythm of the music, dancing on the sand throughout the night. The numerous festivals that bring the region to life are legendary, and are perfect for gourmands and music lovers alike. You head to them for dinner and then… red wine and good company have a habit of convincing you to stay until dawn.

All roads lead to Rome, and so all paths pass through Lazio, which is an obligatory destination for pilgrims and the faithful. A spectacular expression of religious tradition, the 30-metre tower that is the Macchina di Santa Rosa (a “machine” dedicated to Saint Rose, the patron saint of Viterbo) has been added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. I bet you didn’t know about the “cammino degli Angeli” – a 500-km-long circular route that starts and ends in Rome, but also takes in some of the most important Christian sites in Lazio , in the footsteps of the Benedictines . Not to be missed is a trip to the Abbey of Montecassino, with its unique, sumptuous library, which has been called a “beacon of Western culture”.

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Excellences of the region

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