Lazio Tours
Roman Villas | Etruscan, Ostia Antica | The Roman Castles | Ciociaria

The Roman Castles
The suggested tour is to discover the surroundings of the small towns of Rome called “I Castelli Romani” with its volcanic lake’s, not very distant from Rome. The places already famous at the imperial time, become the choice of Popes and aristocrat to built palaces and castles for they vacations. Today at the visitors this places offer a mild clime, rich traditions, beautiful landscape and excellent wines. The territory offers various opportunity of free time: the lake’s of  Nemi, Albano and Castel Gandolfo water sports, the area called Pratoni del Vivaro equestrian.sports.

Suggested day tour of the surroundings of Rome with the visit of Frascati, Grottaferrata, Nemi, Albano, CastelGandolfo, the service is driver/guided and is individually personalized.
Frascati is one of the most beautiful towns of the Castelli Romani, was well known at the time of the Romans for the elegance of the Villa’s and clime. The town is also called La Piccola Roma, (small Rome), for the atmosphere and the charming centre of town.The most important archeological finding, dating back to Ancient Roman time, during the late Republican Age, is a patrician Roman villa probably belonging to Lucullus. In the first century AD the owner was Gaius Sallustius Crispus Passenius, who married Agrippina the Younger mother of Emperor Nero. Later his properties were confiscated by the Flavian imperial dynasty (69 - 96 AD). Consul Flavius Clemens lived in the villa with his wife Domitilla during the rule of Domitian. According to the Liber Pontificalis, in the 9th century Frascati was a little village, probably founded two centuries earlier. The name of the city probably comes from a typical local tradition of collecting firewood ("frasche" in Italian): many place-names around the town refer to trees or wood. After the destruction of Tusculum in 1191, the town population increased and the bishopric moved out from Tusculum to Frascati. Pope Innocent III endorsed the city as a feudal possession of the basilica of San Giovanni Laterano, but in the following centuries its territories was ravaged by frequent raids that impoverished it. It was a possession of various baronal families, including the Colonna, until in 1460, Pope Pius II fortified the place with walls. In the 18th century Frascati became the summer residence of numerous Roman families, the population increased substantially and today is a beautiful, and home of the Frascati wine


Grottaferrata is a small town and comune in the province of Rome, situated on the lower slopes of the Albans Hills, 20 km south ofRome. It is bounded by other communes, Frascati, Rocca di Papa, Marino and Rome. The history of Grottaferrata identifies largely with that of the Basilian Abbey of Santa Maria, founded here in 1004 by St. Nilus. The legend narrates that, at the spot where the abbey now stands, the Vergin appeared and bade him found a church in her honour. The Abbey of Santa Maria di Grottaferrata is one of the main monuments of Lazio. The monastery has several courts, which lead to the famous portico designed by Antonio da Sangallo il giovane, with nine slender arcades supported by columns with elegant Renaissance capitals. Of the abbey church consecrated by John XIX in 1024, little can be seen in the interior except the mosaics in the narthex and over the triumphal arch, the medieval structures having been covered or destroyed during the "restorations" of various abbots in commendam. Some fragmentary thirteenth-century frescoes were revealed in a partial restoration of the church in 1904 to commemorate its novecentennial, when it was made a Roman basilica. The mosaics portray the Twelve Apostles sitting beside an empty throne, evoking Christ's ascent to Heaven. Domenichino’s frescoes, commissioned by Cardinal Odoardo Farnese in 1608, can be seen in the chapel of St. Nilus. Annibale Carracci executed the altarpiece of the Madonna with Child with St. Nilus and St. Bartholomew.The modern portico protects the ancient façade; the marble portal with a mosaic above it, an example of Italo-Byzantine art of the twelfth century. In the interior is a baptismal font supported on winged lions, of the tenth or eleventh centuries. Noteworthy also is the Romanesque campanile (twelfth century), with five storeys of tripartite arched windows. The library of the Abbey which contains some 50,000 volumes has a paper conservation Laboratorio di Restauro, which was entrusted with the conservation of Leonardo’s Codex Atlanticus from the Biblioteca Ambrosiana, the library houses writings of St. Nilus and his pupils and a rare copy of Alvise Cadamosto’s collected travel accounts, printed in the early sixteenth century. Pope Benedict IX died and was buried in this Abbey.


Nemi is a town and comune in the province of Rome, on the Alban Hills overlooking Lake of Nemi. It is 6 km (4 mi) NW of Velletri and about 30 km (18 mi) southeast of Rome. The town's name derives from the latin nemus Aricinum, or "grove of Ariccia", the latter is a small town a quarter of the way around the lake. In antiquity the area had no town, but the grove was the site of one of the most famous of Roman cults and temples, that of Diana Nemorensis a study of which served as the seed for Sir James Frazer’s Frazer’s seminal work on the anthropology of religion, The Golden Bough. In 1514 Marcantonio I Colonna gave to Nemi the "Statuti e Capituli del Castello di Nemi", the first city statute with rules and regulations to observe. In the 18th century Nemi became the summer residence of numerous Roman families, and the population increased substantially.
Nemi and the Lake
Albano is located in the area in which, according to the legend Aeneas’s son, Ascanius, founded Alba Longa. Today the coat of arms of Albano still sport the white (Latin: Alba) boar dreamt by Ascanius before the founding of the city. Alba Longa was one of the main cities of the Latins, and again according to the legend, the birthplace of Romulus and Remus, the mythical founders of Rome. Alba Longa acquired importance when the Appian Way was built nearby, and the Romans built numerous villas in the area. One of the most magnificent was that of emperor Domitian. In the 3rd century emperor Septimius Severus had a military camp, called Castra Albana (Albano Barracks), built nearby to house a Roman legion of the central army reserve. It was an important military city that extended from the top of the hills descending to the Appian Way. Today's Albano developed from this settlement, as is shown by the main streets, which still follow the ancient decumanus and cardo. Remains of the large baths built by Septimius' son, Caracalla, are still visible. During the Early Middle Ages the city was abandoned, regaining importance only in the 12th century for its strategic position across the Appian Way, but in 1170 the army of the Commune di Roma destroyed the town. Afterwards it became a possession of the Savelli family, who resided there until 1697: it was thereafter a Papal possession, the Popes maintaining today a villa in the communal territory. In the 18th century Albano became the summer residence of numerous Roman families, and the population increased substantially.


Albano and the Lake
Castel Gandolfo.
Castel Gandolfo, Archaeological findings from the 16th century BC have been found in the area of what is now Castel Gandolfo.The modern city occupies the site of ancient Alba Longa capital of the Latin League. Its name is derived from a fortification of the ducal Gandolfi family (of Genovese origin), named after St. Gondolfus in the 12th century, which passed to the Savelli family from whom the Apostolic Camera purchased it in 1596 for 150,000 scudi. Pope Clement VIII was the first pope to come to Castel Gandolfo, but the rebuilding of the old castle was the project of Urban VIII who first came in 1626.The Pope's summer residence (Residenza Papale ) is a 17th century building designed by Carlo Maderno for Pope Urban VIII. The papal palace, and the adjoining Villa Barberini that was added to the complex by Pius XI have enjoyed extraterritorial rights since the signature of the 1929 treaty with Italy; the little piazza directly in front was renamed Piazza della Libertà in the first flush of Italian unity after 1870. The papal palace remained unused from 1870 until 1929. Popes Pius XII (1958) and Paul VI (1978) died at Castel Gandolfo. The site of the papal palace, rebuilt on the ruins of the former castle, partly occupies the foundations of a summer residence of the Emperor Domitian that occupied 14 km² (5.4 square miles). The residence was designed by the famous architect Rabirius. In the palace's inner courtyard is a Roman bust depicting Polyphemus, the Cyclops, from whose cave Ulisses escaped; it was found in the nymphaeum of the Imperial villa's gardens, an artificially constructed grotto of the crater lake's outlet. The parish church, dedicated to St. Thomas of Villanova was designed by Bernini (1658-1661) on the order of the Chigi Pope Alexander VII. It has a square plant, and houses a notable pale by Pietro da Cortona portraying the Crucifixion of Christ. The two telescopes of the Vatican Observatory, which were moved from Rome to Castel Gandolfo in the 1930s, were still used until the 1980s. The headquarters of the Vatican Observatory is still located in Castel Gandolfo. However, its dependent research center, the Vatican Observatory Research Group (VORG), is hosted by Steward Observatory at the University of Arizona, Tucson, USA. The telescopes are located in Mt. Graham, Arizona.


Castel Gandolfo