Summer weekend in Bracciano, Lazio
Updated: Aug 25, 2020
For all good Romans, leaving the sweltering city after Ferragosto (the traditional August holiday that falls on the 15th each year) is not only a rite of passage, but a necessity. Favorite shops and restaurants close until early September, and if one is still in the center on August 16, most friends have already decamped for the seaside.
The restaurant and shop closures this year surprised me. I fully expected, after 3 months of strict lockdown and lost business in Italy, that small business owners would choose to stay open a bit longer this summer. But as one man patiently explained to me, "I have a 15-year-old and a 13-year-old. I if I do not take them on August holiday, then I am not a good father."
So we fell in line. If you've read one of my recent posts, you know that my husband and I only recently returned to Rome after several months (a bit stranded) in the U.S. We wanted to relearn and explore our beloved city of Rome without the crowds and tour groups—absent this year because of COVID-19. But the heat got to us too and we spontaneously decided to spend about five days in Bracciano, a medieval city on a hill overlooking Lago di Bracciano, about an hour north of Rome. We rented an apartment in the medieval center from our Roman friend, Linda.
Bracciano turned out to be an entirely delightful and unexpected surprise. We ate wonderful food, rented sunbeds and umbrellas at a low-key and friendly beach club, drank lots of wine, talked with locals, paddled around on a Stand Up Paddle Board, hiked, swam in the perfectly clear lake water, and wandered the medieval center of Bracciano.
Details: Bracciano is about 1 hour+ by car northwest of Rome. The drive would be easy, but we opted instead to take the Regionale train from Roma Ostiense to Bracciano (1 hour approx each way, €7.20 round trip). The train station is right in town and about an 8-minute walk from our rental in the historic center. Not having a car meant less exploring of the area, but in exchange we got to know this small city quite well. We'll go back with a car and visit some of the Etruscan sites in the area, as well as other small towns that dot the lake.
If You Go: Be sure to have lunch or dinner at Enoteca Sapori d'Italia (on Via della Collegiata). Owners Mauro and Rosalia are fun, love to chat, and the food is delicious.
Planet Sail, in our opinion, is the best beach club on the lake. This may reflect where we are in life. I’m not sure it would appeal to the 20-something crowd, but it is perfect for families and couples. It’s a little off the beaten path, not in the main section of the lungolago where most of the clubs are. We discovered the secret walking route that took us from Bracciano center down a steep, rough, dirt road. Not for the mobility challenged. It’s about a 12-minute walk down and about 20 minutes back, with the uphill. But the walk is mostly in the shade, it's good exercise and the route passes by a villa that I want to buy!!
Planet Sail differs from the other beach clubs in that it has several shady trees which cover the back line of beach chairs, as well as a wide grassy area. It almost feels like a private club. But it’s not. They charge almost nothing for 2 lettini (sunbeds) and an ombrellone (umbrella). We had proper Italian lunches at their very nice restaurant (think sauteed mussels, fabulous pasta, crisp white wine, and really cute Flavia as our server). We loved it! I wish we had booked every day. We did 2 days and when we tried to make a spontaneous booking on our last day, sadly they were full. Next year...
For more information on the very pleasant and historic apartment we rented in Bracciano, please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org