Italian lakes to visit from Rome
Trying to get to the beach from Rome can be a somewhat disappointing experience. After hearing all about, and seeing pictures of, the Amalfi Coast, Puglia, Cinque Terre and Sardegna, it’s easy to imagine all of Italy’s beaches as perfect clean with crystal clear water. Trying to find a beach like that within an hour of Rome is almost impossible.
So if you’re not willing to compromise and head to one of the perfectly fine beaches reachable from Rome, the lake is your next best option. Heading to the lake in the summer is one of Rome’s best kept secrets because you avoid the crowded, dirty beaches and terrible traffic that inevitably ends up turning your weekend adventure into a nightmare.
Rome is surrounded by lakes, with some great options available in the southern Castelli Romani region or in the northern part of Lazio, in Tuscia. Here are my picks for lakes that are easy to get to from Rome and worth the trip.
Rome’s most famous lake is well known for the eponymous town that overlooks it with a gorgeous medieval castle making everything just a bit more dramatic. You can take a train from Rome to Bracciano and be there within an hour, lying on one of the beaches and counting down the minutes until you can head to lunch at one of the lakeside restaurants with a view.
Close by to Bracciano is its much smaller counterpart, Martignano. While you’ll need a car to come to this lake, its small, uncrowded grassy beaches make it worth the trip. Top tip: one side of the lake requires you to park and take a shuttle to the (free) beach, but if you navigate to Casale di Martignano you can drive right up to the agriturismo there, pay €5 to enter and also access their restaurant, bar and bathrooms.
Albano (Castel Gandolfo)
On the other side of Rome, Lago Albano is just a quick train ride away. This volcanic lake is super deep, keeping the water very cool and giving it a beautiful turquoise color when you look at it from above. Walking up from the train station brings you right to the town of Castel Gandolfo where you can eat, grab a gelato or check out the summer papal residence.
As Europe’s largest volcanic lake, Bolsena is a great option up in the north of Lazio. There are plenty of water sports, restaurants and other amenities available along the shoreline and if you’re interested in seeing some of the smaller towns that this region has to offer there are a few lovely ones nearby.
I’m cheating a little bit with this one because it’s actually in Umbria but with a car or by taking the train up to Tuscany/Umbria and then getting a car from there you can reach this beautiful lake with scenic towns surrounding it. I’ve also heard great things about the island in the center of the lake (Isola Polvese) that still preserves a lot of traditional heritage sites and is reachable only by ferry or boat.
Do you have any other recommendations for lakes in Italy? I’m still waiting for the perfect opportunity to visit Como and Garda without the crowds but I’m not entirely sure that day will come…