A volcanic lake an hour from Rome provides a refreshing respite
It’s that time of year when the city heat becomes unbearable by 10am, but the beaches are already crowded.
Enter Bracciano. Forty kilometers from Rome, this lakeside town that bears the namesake of the crowned volcanic lake is easy to get to, and even easier to enjoy.
The regional trains from Rome to Bracciano run frequently from Roma Tiburtina, Ostiense, and Valle Aurelia and cost 3.60 Euros one way. From the station, no directions are needed to get to the beach: just walk downhill and follow the local’s and other day trippers. The route will snake you through the picturesque Lazio hill town, past cafes and small boutiques. Click here to buy the train ticket.
Pizza Ai Spicchi is one of the last shops that you will pass before taking the trail down. Most slices are only a euro, and they have drinks fresh from the cooler. It’s a local favorite, and there is often a small line out the door—and for a reason. This typical roman pizza is especially satisfying when it’s eaten on the beach.
Head straight to the Belvedere for a grand view of the lake before taking the Via del Riposo. After a 10 minute walk down the shady trail to the beach, you will join up with Via del Lago and arrive at the lake. Lago di Bracciano rivals Como – it is grand and surrounded by the Tuscia hills but is far less touristy and still as charming.
The beach is lined with beach clubs and restaurants, as well as a few sections of sandy and pebbled public beaches. The beach right at the bottom of the hill is the most crowded, but if you walk along the road for a few minutes the next beaches are more open. Many of the beach clubs offer umbrellas for 10-20 euros a day depending on the time of year, and some offer pedal boats for rent.
Bracciano is a volcanic lake, and one of Italy’s major lakes. It’s smaller than its neighbor Lago di Bolsena (which you most easily accessed via car), but just as enchanting. At 58 square kilometers and 160 meters deep, this lake is Italy’s second-largest after Lago di Como. The water is cool and refreshing, and clean and clear. Because it is a drinking source for Rome, no motorboats are allowed.
If the heat gets to you, Bar Nonno Si is on the corner above the beach and has caffe drinks, panino, and snacks. Their shaded patio is a great place to pause and watch the summer crowds.
If you tire of the beach, the town of Bracciano offers plenty to do for a slow summer’s day. The castle, completed in the 15th century, towers above the town. It is 8.50 euros for a visit, and not only does it have a rich history, but it has also been a prized wedding venue for Italian and international celebrities.
The lake’s cleanliness gives way to fresh fish found in local restaurants. Other lunch and dinner spots of note are located in the medieval portion of the city. Head towards the castle and the streets to the right are dotted with aperitivo spots and restaurants with fresh pastas and fish. With indoor and outdoor seating, the views look out over the characteristic rolling green hills of the Tuscia landscape.
The food choices tend to focus on Lazio fare, but the prized Gran Caffè Principe di Napoli has Napolitano delicacies to transport you to the atmosphere of southern Italy with sfogliatella and baba, and even granita in the summer.
The trains run often and are direct back to several stations in Rome. An easy daytrip from Rome, Bracciano will make you feel like you have traveled much further for a beach getaway.