Caldo, piccante, bollente. The words may look and even sound better in Italian, but when it comes to summer in Italy, there is only one way to describe the weather; hot, hot, hot! That’s the bad news if you’re traveling to the boot in the peak summer months. The good news is that Italy is still beautiful any time of year, and there are plenty of beaches to visit, including some very close to Rome to help you cool off and take a break from the bustling and boiling Eternal City.
Getting to the beaches is easy enough by train or car. The Mediterranean shore is about an hour or less from Rome. And there are plenty of places to swim and sunbathe for the day. But if you’re looking for something different why not visit one of the many inland lakes, which also offer great waterfront restaurants and a variety of water based activities, not to mention an opportunity to stroll the streets of quaint country villages. Keep in mind we’re talking volcanic lakes. That means darker sand along the shoreline as well as slick, sometimes sinking sand as you wade in the water. But that is part of the charm.
About 20 miles north of Rome is Lago di Bracciano. The town of the same name might ring a bell as the castle there, Castello Corsini Odescalchi. It received international attention thanks to the 2006 wedding of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. It is something to definitely visit if you have the time.
Lago di Bracciano is one of the perfect places to escape the summer heat. There are a number of picturesque spots where visitors can rent chairs and umbrellas, not to mention plenty of opportunities to jump in a paddle boat and burn off some of those gelato calories. The lake is also home to a number of other small villages that dot its shoreline, and are worth an afternoon stroll if you need a break from the sun. You can get there by train in about 90 minutes from Rome. A taxi ride will take about 40 minutes and cost around $80 one way.
If you would like to combine some additional sight seeing with a day at the beach, head south to Lake Albano, home of the former summer residence of the Popes, including breathtaking Vatican gardens, and the stunning town of Castel Gandolfo. The main piazza of this little town even has a church designed by Bernini. It’s only around 14 miles south of Rome and a cab ride will run about $45 dollars or more depending on the traffic.
If you really want to make the most of the day in this area of the Lazio region, hire a driver. It would be a great investment, as it would allow you to see the town, the papal museums and gardens, as well as take in the lake shore for some beach time. Lake Albano has a very nice beach on its western shore.
If wine is your thing, you might also visit one of the local wineries in the Frascati area. Frascati is another pretty village overlooking Lake Albano with wonderful shops, as well as nearby vineyards. Although different types of wine are made here, the most famous is the wine named after the town, the Frascati white.
Lake Albano and Lake Bracciano are two of my favorite lakes in the Lazio Region. They offer great and easy escapes from Rome and lots of fun for the entire family.