Lake Bracciano is a Roman secret that not many tourists know about. Set in an absolutely beautiful location in the Lazio countryside, the lake is only a 40 minute drive from Rome. Especially during the hot summer months, Bracciano becomes the perfect getaway to escape the heat and crowds in the city. The lake is big enough to support boating, fishing, and swimming, while the surrounding coast is full of delicious seafood restaurants and bars.
Just up a hill, the medieval town of Bracciano overlooks the view of the lake and is the perfect smaller town to explore for the day. I went last weekend in January and the town itself was enough fun to keep us occupied.
The real draw to Bracciano is its many restaurants and delicous, cheap food. Anything outside of the city is much less expensive and with fresh food prepared daily, taken from nearby farms, the quality is incredible. We went to a small trattoria run by a couple and tried all of the standard Roman pasta dishes like Matriciana, Cacio e Pepe, and Carbonara. Alongside our €10 bottle of wine and a salame/prosuitto plate, it was the perfect meal. In Bracciano, both meat and fish are available, the first coming from the regions surrounding Rome while the latter might be directly from the lake.
Aside from incredible dining opportunities, this small hillside towns offers small boutiques for shopping, cafes to sit and relax, and a historic points if you’re interested in learning more about its past. For the first time, I checked out the huge fortress that Bracciano surrounds and went inside to see its interior. It’s incredible well-preserved with furniture from the 15th and 16th centuries, original frescoes, Renaissance paintings, and a great buttress walk to see the view from the top, which was obviously my favorite part. Aside from seeing how the ancient Italians lived, you’re able to fully appreciate the town’s beauty when seeing it from its highest point.
For a quick day trip in off season, Bracciano is perfect. If you’re willing to deal with some competition, but still less crowds than in Rome, a visit to the lake in the summer is fantastic. Whichever way you go, a trip to Bracciano is worth your while.