Rome & Amalfi holiday guide
Written by Donald Strachan, Italy specialist and Travel Writer for The Guardian.
The Amalfi Coast is one of Europe's great drives—and is busy in high season, so set out early to see it at its best. It clings to a precipitous twenty-mile stretch, passing pastel-hued Positano on the way. Each hairpin bend reveals a new panorama. In Rome, the countryside starts inside the city limits: explore the catacombs below the Parco Appia Antica or relax in the gardens of the Villa Borghese.
Things to do
You could fill a month. Rome's cultural sights include some of the best museums in Europe: the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel, the Borghese Gallery, and much more. Florid baroque churches house treasures such as Bernini's Ecstasy of St. Theresa (in Santa Maria della Vittoria) and Michelangelo's Moses (San Pietro in Vincoli). After dark, move away from the tourist parts of town to enjoy aperitivo in the bars of Monti, then dine alla romana in Testaccio or Trastevere..
Eating and drinking
Rome is the original home of several pasta dishes: alla carbonara (with egg, cream, and cured pig's cheek), cacio e pepe (pecorino cheese and black pepper), and all'amatriciana (cured pork and tomatoes). Rome and Naples also duke it out for the title of pizza capital. Milk from Campania's buffalo makes the creamiest mozzarella di bufala (buffalo mozzarella cheese) and lemons from groves that cling to the Amalfi Coast make some of Italy's tangiest limoncello.
Rome, the region of Lazio, and neighbouring Campania were the epicentre of an empire that ruled the Western world: Ancient Rome. In the capital, its remains are on show everywhere, from the Colosseum and Roman Forum to museums such as the Capitoline and Palazzo Massimo alle Terme. Visitors can even walk the same basalt flagstones where Roman centurions trod at Ostia Antica, Rome's former seaport, as well Pompeii, and Herculaneum, both a short drive from the Amalfi Coast.
Museums in Lazio
Museo Nazionale, Tarquinia Some 6,000 Etruscan tombs, many with frescoes, are scattered in the plain east of Tarquinia and protected as a UNESCO heritage site. Marvellous sculptures, jewellery and household paraphernalia from the tombs are displayed at the museum, as well as frescoed walls. Museo delle Navi di Nemi, Nemi Caligula, one of the odder Roman emperors, enjoyed being rowed back and forth on tiny Lake Nemi in a massive pleasure barge with all sorts of entertainers on board. The barge is a glorious sight and the story of its salvage is dramatic.
Viterbo and the lakes
Bagnaia. Villa Lante . 0761 288008. Mid- April to mid-September 9am-6:30pm, otherwise to 5:30pm.
Bomarzo. Parco dei Mostri (Monster Park) . 0761 924029; www.bomarzo.net. 8am to sunset.
Bracciano. San Liberato Via Settevene Palo 33 . 06 99805460; www.sanliberato.it.
Caprarola. Palazzo Farnese. 0761 646052. Palazzo: Tuesday-Sunday 8:30am-6:45pm. Gardens: 10am-noon and 3-5pm.
Farfa Abbey. www.abbaziadifarfa.com. Hourly guided tours daily 10am-1pm and 3:30- 6:30pm.
Fara in Sabina Archeological museum. Piazza del Duomo 0765 277321. Tuesday-Friday 10am-1pm, weekends also 3-7pm.
Montopoli in Sabina Modern Automata Museum. Via Case Nuove 7 . 0765 27982; www.modernautomatamuseum.com. Monday- Friday 9am-1pm and 2-5pm, weekends by appointment.
Castelnuovo di Farfa Museo dell'Olio. 0765 32091. Friday 3pm-8pm; Saturday 10am- 8pm; Sunday/holidays 10am-1:30pm and 2:30pm-8pm.