Rome is often marketed as a great city break – which of course it is – but to really get the most from the city and its surrounding areas, a longer visit makes even more of the good value flights to Rome that can take you to this unique Italian centre in just a couple of hours.
Even those who have never set foot in Italy know of the draw of Rome: its romantic reputation and breathtaking historic sights, its food and wine. However, not far from the city itself are a scattering of picturesque villages, perfect for a day trip out from the bustling crowds of Rome itself. Exchange the city’s architecture for endless horizons and peaceful mountain scenery at Lake Bracciano.
About 25 kilometres north-west of Rome, as well as rail links from the city, there are also handy pick-up services to take you out to the lake and its shoreline towns, Bracciano, Trevignano and Anguilarra.
The lake, Italy’s second largest, is also a drinking water reservoir for Rome, and a swim in its water is barely resistible. Surrounded by forests, gardens and olive groves, it is the ideal location for a lazy stroll in the sun or a picnic with artisan Italian bread and a bottle of local wine, or let the food come to you at one of the lakeside cafes. Cycling can be a great way to tour the area, and there are guided cycle tours offered locally. For watersports lovers, sailing or windsurfing on the lake is a must. For a slower pace, hire a pedallo and enjoy a quiet meander across the water.
The lake’s namesake town, Bracciano, is populated with stunning buildings, including baroque churches, a magnificent castle – famous as the wedding venue of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes – and a 16th-century bell tower.
The atmospheric town of Trevignano is accessed through a gate under the town clock, and a wander through its old streets and ancient churches proves unforgettable. Not to be outdone by Bracciano, Trevignano also has its own castle, Orsini, whose ruins dominate the view.
Anguillara, more undeveloped than the other towns, is situated on a little cape protruding into the lake and streets of medieval architecture wind through it. For activities, the town offers something for everyone, with bars, pizzerias, camping, mini-golf, tennis, five-a-side, places to fish, and even a museum of aeronautics.
The lake and its towns can get busy at peak times so go in quieter, out-of-season periods for a relaxing and tranquil break.