Finding a nice day trip from Rome that is accessible, easy to get to, and worth the extensive public transportation travel time, is sometimes difficult for visitors. A day trip from Rome to Castel Gandolfo covers all the bases.
Primarily known as the Pope’s summer residence, Castel Gandolfo is a small village that overlooks gorgeous Lake Albano that's surrounded by Lazio’s mountains. The lake itself is a nice day trip itself in the summer with beaches, boats or bikes for rent and the classic Italian waterfront atmosphere, but even in the winter it makes for a great visit.
Tickets for the quick regional train from Rome are €2.75 each way and can be bought at Termini Station in Rome and validated on the platform in Castel Gandolfo. You also get the added benefit of a scenic train ride through the Italian countryside for less than the price of an American coffee.
You can sightsee in the village, with a trip to the Pope’s castle, a walk through the charming village and of course, a long lunch in one of its delicious trattorias. We headed up there for Sunday lunch and a trip to a local mercatino. Even in the winter, the town was alive with tourists, locals, fresh food markets, small boutiques and many restaurants.
The lunch itself was incredible and a great reminder of how amazing food in the country can be. After checking reviews, we went to Arte e Vino. The food there was typical Lazio, hearty and delicious. We got wine, an an appetizer, and two pastas for around €35 and everything was top notch. I would’ve grabbed one of their amazing desserts if I had had room by the end of the meal.
If I’m eating in the country, the one thing I will always order (besides the house wine) is a plate of meats and cheeses. They’re always so fresh and as a prime example, Arte e Vino’s mortadella drizzled with truffle oil was the best mortadella I’ve had in Italy. I actually wanted to cancel my primo and get a second round of mortadella after finishing up the first plate. It was that good. My pasta con ceci (chickpeas) in a sourdough bread bowl was a close runner-up, however, and filled my mortadella void. The only issue we had with Arte e Vino was the very slow service, but this sometimes happens during Sunday lunch at one of the most popular restaurants in town.
Castel Gandolfo makes for a great day trip from Rome. The tasty food, amazing views, and ease of transport make it one of my highly recommended choices. I can’t wait to go back for a seafood lunch and a boat ride on the lake once it gets warmer out.
If you want more information about making a longer trip out of it or renting a car to explore the area, try this Trip Advisor post.
And take a look at Natalie of An American in Rome’s post about Castel Gandolfo here.