Travel Tips in LAZIO (The Latium) - Weekly Updated
A tip for any readers who are heading to Rome (why wouldn't you?) and want to wander the coliseum. Avoid the long wait in the cue to buy tickets to enter the coliseum by heading to the Roman forum first. There is usually little of no line here, and you use the same ticket to enter the colliseum, walking straight past the hundreds of people lining up straight to the gates to scan your ticket and you are free to wander at your whim.
Jason Gill, Switzerland (Oct 06)
Thefts should be reported to the Main Police Station at Via S. Vitale and NOT at the Ufficio Straniero as listed in your book. (The reporting procedure is simple and efficient and forms are in Italian and English). The latter has been renamed Ufficio Immigrazione and deals mainly with visa & immigration formalities. It has moved to Via Teofilo Patini snc (angolo via Salviati) zone 'Tor Cervara'. (Metro line B to Rebibbia and then autobus No. 447). Tel: 0646863109 & 0646863098.
To avoid the horrendous queues for the Vatican Museum, go to the entrance from which the queue starts. To the right are revolving doors for the exit from the Museum. Just inside is the informazioni counter. There is no indication on the outside.. There you can book an excellent guided tour for 21.50 which includes the entry price of 12.50. They leave at 10 a.m., noon, 2 p.m. & 4 p.m. You can book in advance, or on the spot 15 mins before, providing there is room on the tour and that way avoid the long queues. For both St. Peter's and the Vatican Museum the queues in the morning are just impossible. But if you go around 3 pm. you can almost walk straight in. No queues!
Florence. Just a quick note to let you know of the way we discovered to visit the Uffizi & Gallery Academic bypassing the queues (I believe this new system is the reason for the difficulty in getting reservations to those museums now and the consequently very long queues):
The Bank Toscana has an arrangement with the museums whereby you can purchase a 50 debit card (for 55) from the bank, which gives you a voucher for each of the above named 2 galleries, allowing you to purchase 2 entry tickets from each of those galleries (using the debit card) without incurring a reservation charge (eg 6.50 for admission to uffizzi instead of 6.5 + 3) AND allows you to enter immediately so effectively skipping the large queues. The 5 extra cost of purchasing the debit card goes to the banks' administration AND some gets to the Gallery Academica for restoration/maintenance of Michelangelo's David.
As the purchase of 2 tickets for entry to each of the Uffizzi and the Gallery Academica only amounts to about 26, there is some surplus cash left on the debit card. The rest of this cash on the debit card can be used to purchase souvenirs from the gift shops associated with the museums, and I think can also be used for purchasing tickets to the other Florence museums. The purpose and use of the card was being misunderstood particularly by non-italian speakers, who thought that the 55 was for entry to the 2 museums only (and therefore was more than a doubling of the normal cost).
If you are going up north in summer definitely take some strong insect repellant with you, and some stuff for the bites afterwards. The chemist will give you a cream for them but in some towns they close for a period in summer and the only one left open can be up to an hour away.
One of main attractions in Rome. The Holy See (Vatican City). If intending to visit during summer months (May - Sept), make sure you carry a lite t-shirt and pair of track pants or lite trousers in backpack so you can pull over shorts or vest before entering. Vests and shorts aren't considered appropriate attire for entering The Vatican.
If you're not worried about getting a little lost, walk around Rome as much as you can instead of taking public transport. Around any corner could be a Roman site found whilst developers were trying to build new buildings. Although they may not be fully excavated, they are great to look at.
In Rome I found the bus service excellent. I found it opened up the whole city to me, and I also found that I was beginning to know my way around the city and where the main points of interest were located as opposed to running around tunnels in the dark. The only thing the metro has over the bus is the speed but on any other criterion it simply does not compare. Presently the A metro line (Battistini/Anagnina) is undergoing renovations/upgrading and will shut down at 2100 hrs for the next 3 years at least.
Having just returned from Venice I wish to pass on some information with regards to getting from the Treviso airport to Piazzale Roma (Venice). Ryan air provided a bus at a cost of 4.50 for a single trip and 8 for a return ticket, this is excellent value for money as the buses connects with all Ryanair flights.
Just back from Italy. Please WARN women solo travellers against taking the overnight trains, specifically on the Naples/Genoa route. I am not easily frightened but I was on the overnight train from Naples to Nice. Very seedy elements on board, I thought I would be raped, unable to sleep the entire time out of fear.
If you buy anything in a tabacchi or other little stores and bars, you should check the total and the change immediately and accurately. Within a few days we would have lost about 20 at four shops. At a tabacchi, they gave us bus tickets in a paper bag, so we were not able to see the price printed on the tickets. The total was nearly twice as high as it should have been.
Have just got back from an amazing trip round Italy. Something to look out for as Mum ended up in a Police Station in Rome is a single man waiting outside Metro stops at night pretending to be lost and thrusting a map in your face. As you stop to help, two other official looking men turn up flashing mock police badges at you demanding your bank cards and passport saying the man you are helping is very dangerous. They take your cards, all the time you believing that they are Police, and demand very aggressively for your PIN numbers for your card. Throughout this interrogation, they have scanned all your card details into a small device and also given your details down the phone to someone. Mum didn't give out her PIN and went straight to the Police station, where they informed her this was a growing problem. The Italian Police were very helpful and assisted her in canceling all her cards over the phone, which when checked with the Bank in England had been done legit. It all happens very quickly and your natural reaction is to stop and help someone lost who looks like a fellow tourist, I guess just keep your wits about you after dark.
This year I spent some time in Sicily, about 2 months, which was very nice. It occured to me that your "Sicily" book does not even make mention of a wonderful little town named Novara di Sicilia. This very interesting, wonderfull, untouched one-of-a-kind historic medieval town lies in the Nebrodi and Peloritani mountains, not far from the cities of Messina, Barcelona, and Milazzo. It exists as a medieval urban site since the 12th century and historians and legends alike have spoken of its existance as a settlement since ancient times. Novara did/does lie on the ancient route which carried greeks and others from Tyndaris to Naxos in ancient times. Novara is also surrounded by lush mountain terrain and agriculture and has a priceless view on the Aolian Islands only a few miles away.
In the Liguria region there are plenty of "sagre", similar to the Spanish fiestas. The best ones, and more suitable for the backpacker crowd, are those in the hillside towns and villages. They always have some kind of religious origin, and they start with processions and masses and all that, but usually at night they develop in big parties packed with young people coming from all the villages and towns around, with open air DJ sessions, cheap good food (the sagra usually is named after the local gastronomic specialty), cheap booze, bars open till late at night, etc. It can be a lot of fun for people on their 20-30's.If you want to go for the most unique atmosphere, always choose the sagre in the little hillside towns, because those on the coast are usually more family oriented. Hillside villages are usually easy to reach by local bus lines (unless you feel like going on foot or hitch-hiking). All these sagre are widely advertised locally by street posters and billboards.
My wife and I recently spent a fabulous week in the medieval town of Oria, a little village in the Apulia province of Italy (south). It is an extremely interesting area, with the Trulli house (Alberobello) nearby, the cave formations at Castella Grotte, terrific Byzantine and other buildings at Lecce , the warm sea at Campamorale. The area has a mixed history which has left a fascinating variety of castles, cathedrals, Moorish, Byzantine and Greek locations. The local people were very friendly and they are rightly proud of their food and wine which we found to be cheap and enjoyable.There are several economical restaurants in Oria, all serving excellent food.We highly recommend this experience to other travellers who like getting away from the tourist rush and feeling southern Italian life.
We stayed in Trestina situated between Cittα di Castello and Umbertide and visited the nearby village Montone. Although we couldn't find it being mentioned in any guide, it was recommended by the owner of the house that we rented. And it was indeed a true pearl!
Brixen-Bressanone is a charming city. It was the diocesan town for the main part of Tyrol until South Tyrol became part of Italy in 1918. There is the episcopal castle with a museum (representative rooms, models of nativity scenes and crucifixion scenes) and several paintings of famous Tyrolean artists of the 19th century) and the beautiful cathedral with a gothic cloister (with frescos). About 15 km south of Brixen is the small town Klausen-Chiusa, which was very popular for artists in the 19th and early 20th century, they liked it for the still medieval and romantic look, and it has kept much of it until today. On a hill looking over the city is a convent (Kloster Sδben) which was the residence of the bishop in the medieval age. It looks more like a castle, and it was built to protect the citizens of the town and the villages around. Today there are still some Benedictine nuns living there. You can walk up the hill (about 20 minutes), visit the churches and enjoy the view.
Summer in Rome, fabulous, amazing... hot and crowded. Think about staying outside the city, I recommend Terracina, (famous for the white wine of the region)in the hills overlooking Rome. Its a charming little place with Roman fountains, Roman temple ruins. The day time heat & crowds are killers, and Rome by moonlight (and the specially amber coloured streetlights) is unimaginably gorgeous.
Some other info about
the Latium (Lazio, in Italian)
Latium (Lazio) is a region in Central Italy, on the Tyrrhenian side of the peninsula, except for a small strip on the Adriatic side. Lying to the west on the Tyrrhenian Sea, this region borders to the north with Tuscany, with Umbria and for a short stretch with the Marches.
To the east Latium borders with Abruzzo and briefly with Molise and with Campania to the south; within its present limits it has not, however, geographical unity.
The Natural Environment
The morphology of Latium is very complex but four main sub-regions can be defined: the Tyrrhenian coast, the inland plains, the mountains of the Latium Preapennines and a true Apennine area. The coast is mainly low and uniform, broken only by the spurs of Linaro point, Mount Circeo (541 m.) and the Gaeta headland: the Ponzian Islands, which are part of Latium, lie opposite the south coast.
Behind the coastal strip, to the north lie: the Latium Maremma (the continuation of the Tuscan), interrupted at Civitavecchia by the Monti della Tolfa (616 m.), in the centre by the Campagna di Roma and to the south by Agro Pontino. This area, once swampy and unhealthy, was reclaimed over the centuries (though work was finished only in the 1930s) for repopulation and agricultural exploitation. The Latium Preapennines, marked by the Tiber valley and the Liri with the Sacco tributary, includes on the right of the Tiber, three groups of mountains of volcanic origin: the Volsini, Cimini and Sabatini, whose principal craters are occupied by the Bolsena, Vico and Bracciano lakes. Other mountain groups south of the Tiber also form part of the Preapennines: the Albani (or Latium) Hills, also of volcanic origin, and the calcareous Lepini, Ausoni and Aurunci Hills. The Latium Apennines are part of the Abruzzi Apennines: the Reatini mountains with Terminillo (2,213 m.), Mounts Sabini, Prenestini, Simbruini and Ernici which continue east of the Liri into the Mainarde.
The major river is the Tiber; its course, initially southeast in a valley lying longitudinally to the Apennines, deviates south-west across the Campagna di Roma. Various rivers are its tributaries: the Velino, Salto and Turano (through the Nera) and the Aniene. The courses of the Sacco and Liri are similar to that of the Tiber. Other smaller rivers such as the Fiora, Marta and Arrone flow directly into the sea and are relatively short. All the rivers in the region empty into the Tyrrhenian Sea except for the Tronto which crosses the Amatrice dip and flows into the Adriatic. Apart from the lakes already mentioned, others are Albano and Nemi, lying in the craters of two extinct vulcanoes in the Albani Hills.
The climate is temperate over all the region though with considerable differences between the temperature and humidity on the coastal strip, subject to marine influences, and on the higher zones inland, where there are greater extremes of temperature and rainfall is more abundant-often with snow in winter. The vegetation has been radically modified by man, and the once widespread woodlands now cover an area of 368 thousand hectares, little more than a fifth of the surface. Along the coast and in the lowlands stretches the Mediterranean scrub, with stands of wild laurel giving way, further inland and with increasing altitude, to cork woods and mixed woods of white oak, hornbeam, sycamore, elm, holly oak and chestnut. This is followed by chestnut, Turkey oak and white oak woodland up to approximately 1,100 m.; higher up lie beautiful beechwoods, which in some areas even stretch up to 1,800 m.
One of the most interesting zones as far as nature, human settlement and history are concerned, are Circeo, now a national park, including the Mount Circeo headland, the Sabaudia forest, the island of Zanone, the coastal lakes of Sabaudia (or Paola) Caprolace, Monaci and Fogliano and the Pontine coast, for a total of approximately 8,400 hectares. All these, together with sites of cultural and tourist interest, including paleontological, archeological and historical remains, sunny beaches, shady woods, and mineral springs, add to the importance of the national park. The vegetation is rich, varied and abundant in places. On the south side, called 'the warm zone', the headland is covered with Mediterranean scrub with holly oak, strawberry bush, myrtle, shrub heather and many kinds of other low bush; dwarf palms grow on the rocks. The northern side instead, known as 'the cold zone', is characterized by high underwood, with holly oak, white oak, hornbeam and broom. At the foot of this stretches a luxuriant oakwood.
The Sabaudia forest, a surviving tract of the Pontine forests destroyed by land reclamation, consists mainly of deciduous oak such as the Turkey and pedunculate oaks. Though some of the most characteristic animals (wolf and deer) have disappeared, there is still some interesting fauna, such as the wild boar (chosen as emblem of the park), and the fallow deer-introduced in the past and now being gradually replaced by the roe deer, and moufflon, still found at Zannone.
Still partly a wilderness, with broken hills, woodland and large stretches of scrub that contrast with wide areas of rough ground and grazing land for herds of half-wild cattle, is the Monti della Tolfa area, slightly to the east of Civitavecchia. The vegetation is profuse and varied, comprising Mediterranean scrub and coppices of white oak, hornbeam, sycamore, elm and chestnut, as well as riparian vegetation with poplar, willow, ash and tamarisk.
The fauna includes many wild boar, beech-marten and weasel. On the slopes of the Monti Lepini lie a splendid garden and the medieval ruins of the town of Ninfa: among enormous centuries-old pines, cypresses, holly oaks, poplars and olive trees, 10,000 exotic trees, including magnolias, Japanese cherry, maple, beech and bamboo have been planted.
An extremely beautiful little area is that of Lake Posta Fibreno, near Sora, with its veritable underwater forest of algae and macrophytes with beautiful blue-red-greenish highlights.
The lake is also the site of one of the strangest works of Nature in Italy: a floating island formed by the transformation of algae, weeds, bushes and trees into peat, which drifts over the water with the wind.
Population and Economy
The population distribution is clearly influenced by Rome, where 55% of the population is concentrated. The presence of the capital of Italy gives Latium the fourth highest density of population in the country.
In the past, the somewhat underdeveloped north of the region has undergone progressive depopulation (especially in Rieti province), and this, to a certain extent, is still continuing. By contrast, south of Rome the creation of new industrial areas (especially in the Pontine) has contributed to a marked rise in population, though urban growth occurs to the detriment of the rural areas.
The regional dialects can be identified with two fairly well-defined areas: the north-west is influenced by the southern Tuscan dialects, while the rest of the region speaks Central Italian dialects, though with marked individual linguistic characteristics (Sabine, Ciociaro and Roman).
Sociological statistics reveal a standard of living above the national average, but the north of the region is penalized by an underdeveloped economy, while the south of Latium has on an average a better standard of living.
With regard to environmental conditions, unfortunately the Thyrrenian Sea is highly polluted and environmental deterioration is found particularly in Rome where the traffic is choking the city, and the suburbs have spread in a disorganized sprawl.
The agricultural sector is characterized by farms of varying sizes and productivity which differs from one place to another. In the Rieti and Viterbo areas farms are large, while the reclaimed districts (Agro Pontino) make use of modern production techniques and holdings are smaller, becoming tiny in the rural areas of Ciociaria.
Part-time farming is a growing phenomenon carried out by workers in other forms of employment, who often spend some time growing fruit and vegetables.
The most widespread crops are cereals (wheat, maize) and vegetables in the Viterbo area, Campagna di Roma and Agro Pontino; vines are cultivated in the Colli Albani area and olives in Sabina.
There are particularly high numbers of sheep, and cattle-breeding is slowly developing. Fishing, though affected by pollution and less than optimal environmental conditions (sandy coasts, few inlets), is important on a national scale.
Industrial development in Latium is fairly recent and closely linked with the Mezzogiorno Fund, though limited, as already mentioned, to the areas south of Rome. Communications have also been an influence, favouring the areas with the best links to Rome and those near the Autostrada del Sole (motorway), especially around Frosinone. Firms are often small to medium in size and operate in the building and building materials (Rome, Civitavecchia), paper (Frosinone), petrochemical (Gaeta, Rome), textile (Frosinone), engineering (Rieti, Anagni), automobile (Cassino), food (Rome, Aprilia), electronic and electrotechnical (Viterbo) sectors. There is a reasonable production of electricity (nearly all thermal), one tenth of which is provided by the Foce Verde nuclear power station (near Latina).
Approximately the 73% of the working population is employed in the services sector; this is a considerable proportion, but is justified by the presence of the capital, which is the core of public administration, banking, tourism, insurance and other sectors.
The centralizing force of Rome has also influenced the communications network which tends to link each centre with the capital rather than constitute interurban communications. All the major highways (in part corresponding to the ancient Roman consular roads) converge on the metropolis, causing considerable traffic problems. The railway network is in a similar condition, though the situation is aggravated by antiquated railway lines. The busiest ports are Civitavecchia and Gaeta. There are two airports, Roma-Fiumicino, the most important in Italy, and Roma-Ciampino, for domestic flights.
Though penalized by the extraordinary centralizing influence exerted by Rome on vast numbers of visitors, the whole of Latium has considerable tourist potential, for it offers a range of alternative itineraries with a wide choice of historical and artistic sights and scenery. One interesting itinerary might begin in the north of the region, in search of the mysterious and fascinating Etruscans, fierce rivals of the Romans, whose spiritual depth is here revealed in their fine and evocative necropoli. Mention is here made of the most important: first of all, the Vulci ruins, on the Tuscan boundary, the centre which has furnished the best examples of Etruscan bronzes; farther south lies Tarquinia, near which lies one of the most important necropoli yet discovered, particularly famous for its paintings which provide a tangible and fascinating picture of Etruscan life and customs. Proceeding south again, lies Cerveteri, with architecturally important necropoli: the tombs reproduce the interior of an Etruscan home and its evolution can be traced from the simplest of forms (7th century BC.) to the most complete (4th-2nd centuy BC.). Another itinerary in the heart of Etruria lies inland, combining the beautiful landscapes of the great Latium lakes with the environmental interest of ancient, picturesque villages submerged in a gentle silent countryside.
In the immediate vicinity of the capital, some pleasant localities constitute an ideal addition to a visit to Rome: to the east is Tivoli, near the Aniene Falls and the stately ruins of Adrian's Villa (2nd century BC.); a little farther south lies Palestrina, with the remains of Fortuna Primigenia (2nd-1st century BC.), a large pagan sanctuary; turning west one reaches the Castelli Romani area (Colli Albani), a favourite residence of Popes and aristocrats.
Places near the Apennines have fewer visitors but are no less beautiful: Subiaco, for example, with the nearby Benedictine convent of S. Scolastica (11th-16th century), and the monastery of S. Benedetto (12th century), built on the grotto where the Saint lived. Entering Ciociaria, one can visit Fiuggi, a famous spa; then Anagni, where Pope Boniface VIII was taken prisoner, Ferentino, Alatri and Veroli, not far from Casamari Abbey.
Farther south lies Priverno, with Fossanova Abbey (13th century) and its beautiful cloisters. From this point, the visitor proceeds to the Circeo National Park, on the Tyrrhenian Sea, which demonstrates what Agro Pontino must have been like before land reclamation. Along the coast, lies Terracina, with an interesting medieval Duomo and ruins of the temple of Giove Anxur (1st century BC.). Beyond this, still on the sea, lies the Grotta di Tiberio where it is thought the Emperor enjoyed his leisure; next comes Gaeta with its Baroque Church of SS. Annunziata (with a rich Renaissance chapel).
Deviating inland, one reaches Montecassino Abbey, with tra gic memories of World War II; it was almost totally destroyed in 1944 and then faithfully rebuilt to the original plan. Traditional tourism is linked with the many Tyrrhenian seaside resorts, the favourite destination of Romans for summer holidays or weekends. From the north, these resorts are: Santa Marinella, Ladispoli, Fregene, Lido di Ostia, Tor Vaianica, Lavinio, Anzio, Nettuno, Lido di Latina, San Felice Circeo, Terracina, Sperlonga and Formia. Of no less importance are the rocky islands in the Pontino archipelago (the Ponzian islands), looking onto the Gulf of Gaeta; only Ponza and Ventotene, linked by ferry to Anzio, Terracina and Formia are inhabited. Latium also has a very famous ski resort-Terminillo (2,216 m.), the so-called `mountain of the Romans' in the province of Rieti.
Itineraries in the Latium
San Felice Circeo -Sabaudia - National Park of Circeo
S. Felice Circeo - Sea-bathing resort among the most wellknown and preferred, San Felice combines the charm of an ancient settlement perched on the western slopes of the mythical promontory with first class touristc attractions. SABAUDIA - The elegance of this new town, founded only half-a-century ago, is due to the regular urban planning and to the splendid natural setting of sea and coastal lake of the same name. NATIONAL PARK OF CIRCEO - Constituted in 1934 to safeguard the marvellous natural endownments of the area, the Park extends over 8,300 hectares one-third of which consists of uncontaminated state-owned forests where wild-life and vegetation are rigorously protected.
Abbey of Fossanova - Sezze - Sermoneta - Ninfa
Abbey of Fossanova - The Abbey of Fossanova is the first Italian example of Cistercense gothic construction. Built in the 9th century, the church was consecrated in 1208 by Pope Innocent III. The interior, with three aisles, is without either painting or sculpure and the local live stone accentuates the volumetric character of the building. The most beautiful cloister should also be visited as well as the chapter hall, the refectory and the recently restored infirmary. SEZZE- This is the most important and representative centre of Monti Lepini. The cathedral is very interesting. On Good Friday, the streets of this little town is the scene of a charming, moving re-evocation of the Passion of Christ. SERMONETA - The medieval stamp of this town is most evident in its urban structure and in its monuments, the most important of which is the Castle, excellently preserved and seat of numerous cultural displays. NINFA - A medieval town, completely abandoned in the 18th century due to malaria, it has been defined by the historian Gregorovius as the "Pompei of the Middle Ages". Today, it is a pictoresque ruin inserted in a verdant and natural botanic garden dominated by the tower ot the Caetani Castle.
Fondi - Grottos of Pastena - Abbey of Montecassino
Fondi - Situated on a lake of the same name, the sea and the slopes of the Aurunci mountains, the plane of Fondi is one of the most renowned agricultural areas in Latium. In the inhabited centre, there is the Cathedral of San Pietro, the barional Castle and the Palace of the Prince. GROTTOS OF PASTENA - Very vast spelaeological complex, among the most important in Italy, rich in stalactites and stalagmites in fantastic forms, the grottos of of pastenas may be visited along a stretch of approximately 2.5 kilometers, composed of lighted paths which enable one to enjoy the horrid beauty of the interior. ABBEY OF MONTECASSINO - founded in 529 by Benedict of Norcia, this most famous abbey became very soon the most enlightened centre of western civilization. This is rather surprising if one considers the various occurrences of the complex, several times destroyed and each time arising agin as a symbol of civilization and peace.
Sperlonga - Gaeta - Formia - Minturno
SPERLONGA - The most ancient nucleus of the town, dating back to the Middle Ages, is grouped together on a peak on the mountain jutting out towards the sea and it has the typical appearance of a Mediterranean seaside resort. The climate and scenery were renown and appreciated even in Roman times. (Grotto of Tiberius and surrounding areas). Gaeta - From Sperlonga to Gaeta the coast winds in an intricate and stupendous arabesque of promontories and bays up to the characteristic natural port which was one of the attractions of the ancient city of the Aurunci. The medieval district of St. Erasmus with its cathedral and Angevin-Aragonese Castle is an authentic jewel. FORMIA - the healthy climate and the seacoast rich in fish-life rendered it a renown holiday resort even in Roman times. Cicero had a splendid villa in Formia and here he was killed by assassins sent by Antonio in 43 A.D. Local tradition has idenified in a tomb of the 1st century situated at 139,5 kms on the Via Appia, the sepulchre of the great orator. The charecteristic agglomerate in the high part of the city is interesting with the Torre of Mola and the church of St. Erasmus. MINTURNO - A large town with a medieval aspect, Minturno rises on the terrace dominating the sea. Particularly interesting are the ruins of the ancient Roman city of Minturanae with its Theatre of the 1st century A.D. excellently preserved and the seat of summer theatrical activity.
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