I have recently visited Italy again. It’s been a while since my last visit in Rome. I forgot how hot and crowded it is in the middle of July. My first advice is this: visit Rome offseason! This is priceless! May or October are just perfect but this time, I had no choice as I participated in a meeting organised in Sacrofano, near Rome. Thus, here are my tips to all who visit Rome in peak season.
The best thing that had happened to us was our accommodation. Instead of a hotel or apartment in the centre of the Eternal City we chose a small hotel in Castel Gandolfo. There are at least three good reasons to do so: first, the location of this small town is strategic. The train connection is perfect! Second, its location at the Albano Lake provides a fresh breeze which, in the middle of the Italian summer, is priceless! And third, the town itself is interesting. Instead of fighting for a parking slot in Rome, dealing with the noise and unbearable warmth, I encourage you to pick up Castel Gandolfo.
The train connection with Rome is not only reliable but most of all super comfortable. A modern air-conditioned train will bring you to the heart of the city (Rome Termini) in less than 45 minutes. The is ONE important issue, though. Before you go down to the train station you must buy a train ticket in one of the newspaper stands in the main square. Although the train station is quite big there are NO TICKETS. We didn’t know about it and we paid extra 5 EUR for every ticket bought. It’s not much but if you know that the price of the ticket is only 4,50 EUR then you see that this make sense.
Castel Gandolfo is wonderful! After we spent one day in Rome we decided to stay in the town and explore more of its surroundings. As you probably know there is a residence of the popes here, which is the reason why it is so famous. Many of the previous popes spent their holidays here but the current one, Pope Francis, does not continue this tradition. The local people are not happy about it because the number of visitors decreased. For us, it was a great pleasure to talk about Polish popeJohn Paul II who was so attached to this place. He is still remembered by the locals.
The first morning we came to Castel Gandolfo we visited the Papal Residence. The museum was very expensive (10 EUR) but we thought it was worth the money and our time. The exhibition is focused on the previous popes, their lives, contribution, and sometimes scandals. There are a few artefacts from Vatican, including a BMW of John Paul II. I really enjoyed the narration provided by audioguides. There were many things I didn’t know and the view from the terrace on the lake was just spectacular! All in all, I enjoyed it.
Most of all, this small town is full of extremely nice people. There are good restaurants and pizzerias here so every evening you can eat in a different place. Castel Gandolfo is also famous for its artwork. The objects decorated by mosaics are so beautiful! It is a pure delight to watch the craftsmen at work!
We felt totally relaxed when we were sitting on a terrace of the hotel in the late evening. The chilly wind from the lake was just fantastic! I would recommend this place to everyone who wants to visit Rome and still enjoy tranquillity and relax.