Rome Travel Guide

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Sunday, July 28, 2013

Albano - a day trip with all things Roman

The "cisterone," in use today to water gardens and lawns
The town of Albano, nestled in the Colli Albani - Alban Hills, is a great day trip outside Rome.  Unlike the more famous towns surrounding Rome -  Frascati, Castel Gandolfo and Tivoli -  Albano attracts few tourists. Touring Albano is a bit DIY, but worth it.

The town's origins date back to several millennia B.C., and it has ruins from Roman days, including an impressing town gate, an amphitheater, and an enormous cistern.  Partly because of its treasure trove of Roman artifacts, it also boasts a very good archaeological museum.  And, for us, it's a great starting point for a lovely walk around the volcanic lip of Lago Albano.

a black and white photo that more clearly shows
 this early Roman waterwork
We first took Albano seriously when we went on a guided tour with a favorite Italian tour guide to look at the cistern.  Always interested in the water works of the Romans, we couldn't resist Laura's tour.  The cistern, also known as the "cisterone" - i.e., really big cistern (as Julius Caesar in Italian is known as Cesarone), is amazing in its vastness.  We're not sure how much you can see on your own.  But it's always worth a try.  And the last time we were there, there was at least an explanatory panel in Italian and English.  The cisterone is between via Aurelio Saffi and via San Francesco D'Assisi.

Baths for the soldiers, in Albano
Roman ruins still in use

The porta and other remains of Septimius Severus's huge encampment of Roman soldiers - his legions - are right out in the open.  He built some of the largest baths in the Roman empire - to keep those legions happy. Just walking around town, you can see the ruins everywhere, including as parts of today's buildings. Follow via A. Saffi up the hill and it curves into via Anfiteatro Romano.  The amphitheater is locked up too, unless you are there for a concert.  But you can look in.

The Roman amphitheater in Albano
Before you go up the hill to the cisterone and amphitheater, if you're interested in the museum, head there first.  Museo Archeologico di Villa Ferrajoli, is on the main drag, viale Risorgimento, 3, and the price is right.  We just can't recall if the descriptions also are in English.  For days and hours, scroll down to the bottom of this site:

The view across Lake Albano
To get to the start of the lake walking tour, continue on via Anfiteatro Romano up to where the road joins the larger road (Highway SP71b and 72b) that cruises along the volcanic ridge.  The walking trail takes off just to the right of the restaurant at the top of the hill.  You can walk along the ridge for a mile or more.  This will give you the best views of this volcanic lake - you can see the Pope's residence and observatory at Castel Gandolfo across the lake. If you keep your eye out, you will see some caves and aqueduct remains along the way.

Trains run hourly from Rome's Termini Station to Albano, and back.  The trip takes under an hour and costs about 2 Euros each way.


Caves along the trail

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