Sightseeing Tours of Castelli Romani food & wine

tour duration

5 Hours

start time

10:00 Am
Mon, Tue, Thu, Fri, Sat

meeting point

Pick-up at your hotel, more details at booking

Excursions from the Castelli Romani Food & Wine Tour

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Grottaferrata & Abbey of San Nilo

Grottaferrata - Abbazia San Nilo - Exterior

Grottaferrata is located on the lower slopes of the Alban Hills in Castelli Romani. The city is renowned for the fascinating Abbey of Santa Maria di Grottaferrata, also known as the Abbey of San Nilo. It is the only Byzantine abbey to have survived on the slopes of the Alban Hills.

Grottaferrata is one of the symbolic villages in Christian history. In fact, the village served as shelter to several popes and important religious people. In 1004, San Nilo da Rossano settled in the village, living in the cave of Saint Agnes of Grottaferrata. After his death, the abbey was built to honor him. Pope Pius II ordered its renovation in 1492 while Pope Pius IX gave the monastery its independence in 1848.

Things to see

Miraculously, Grottaferrata did not get as damaged as the other villages of the Castelli Romani during the Second World War. The abbey can be found in the center of the village where we can admire its bell tower while inside we can be awed by a Byzantine icon of the Virgin Mary. This icon was placed in the middle of the masterpiece realized by Bernini.

Grottaferrata also boasts the ruins of a medieval fortress which was first mentioned in 1140. For lovers of the Middle Ages, the village is partially surrounded by ramparts which offer visitors a fantastic setting to take unforgettable pictures. The village is also composed of several villas which in the past belonged to rich aristocrats that came from Rome to take a break from city life.

The Catacombs of Grottaferrata, also knows as the Catacombs Ad Decimum, were an important archeological site. More than 800 tombs along with frescoes and sculpted sarcophagus were found, some dating back to the 5th century. A national archeological museum now exists inside the abbey of San Nilo with some of the items found on the site.

Castel Gandolfo

Castel Gandolfo - flower
Castel Gandolfo - GuardsCastel Gandolfo - PiazzaCastel Gandolfo - Lake

Castel Gandolfo is situated on the edge of the lake Albano which itself is located inside a crater of an ancient volcano. Castel Gandolfo is one of the smallest cities in the Castelli Romani region, only boasting approximately 8840 inhabitants. On the other hand, it is one of most scenic and beautiful places in Italy. From its position on top of a hill, it offers a wonderful view on Lake Albano.

Castel Gandolfo is best known for the summer residence that Pope Urban VIII had constructed in 1628. Plans for the palace were designed by the architect Carlo Moderno. As time passed, Castel Gandolfo became the official summer residence for the different popes.

Things to see

Castel Gandolfo became one of the ancient Romans’ favorite summer destinations. Many aristocratic families built their own houses and palaces, such as the Villa Domitian. Domitian was the last emperor of the Flavian Dynasty. Villa Domitian had been built on the western part of the hill overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea. The Emperors Hadrian, Septimus and Constantine all enjoyed the villa as well. In 1221, the villa was the Savelli family’s property but because of the numerous debts they had, Pope Clement VIII added the villa to the Holy See’s property. In 1929, via the Lateran Treaty, Benito Mussolini offered the villa back to the Vatican City and was listed among the buildings with extra territorial privilege.

In spring 2014, Pope Francis opened the gardens of the pope’s residence to the public so now, it is possible to admire the Barberini Gardens and enjoy a breathtaking view of Lake Albano. There is even a small guided group visit which lasts approximately one hour. In August, some Papal audiences were given in Castel Gandolfo.

Marino & Albano

Lake Albano
Marino - Castelli RomaniLake Albano  & Castelgandolfo

Marino is a small city located in the Lazio region. More specifically, it is located in the Colli Albani territory near Lake Albano. Marino belongs to the Castelli Romani and produces a famous white wine named after the city.

Each year Marino organizes the Sagra dell’Uva, an Italian wine festival, during the first Sunday of October. Wine pours out from the Fontana dei Quattro Mori (“Fountain of the Four Moors”) located in the center of the city. This festival began in 1925 after an idea the poet Leone Ciprelli had; the city has organized this wine festival every year since. Around the same time, the city celebrates the day of Our Lady of the Rosary (Madonna del Rosario) to commemorate the victory of Santa Alleanza during the battle of Lepanto against the Ottoman emperor on October 7th 1571.

Things to see

A funny anecdote is tied to this city and its wine festival: a few years ago, a plumbing mistake occurred to the water connections and inhabitants suddenly saw wine coming out of their taps. Some people were just filling up their bathtub when they noticed the water turn into wine. A few locals said it was a miracle but it was in fact an error made by the technicians who confused the connections for the wine fountain and the city waterways. The error was quickly fixed but a few wine lovers were able to take advantage of it.

The Marino white wine is one of the most famous wines from the Castelli Romani area and thanks to the special climate in Marino, it differs a little bit from the other wines of the region. This white wine can be best appreciated with meat, cheese and cold cuts.

Many Romans come to this small city during the weekends, especially during the summer, to enjoy some fresh air and green space. Thanks to its location atop of a hill, Marino offers its visitors a lovely place to stay during the summer. Moreover, many nice restaurants are located in the city.

Albano, or Albano Laziale as it is often called, is one of the most important municipalities in the Castelli Romani region. Albano Laziale is located 25 kilometers from Rome and is near two lakes: Lake Albano and Lake Nemi. Several Romans ruins can be seen in Albano Laziale such as the arena and the thermal baths of Caracalla.

According to the legend of the city’s founding, Aeneas’ son Ascanius was visited by a white boar in his dreams which told him where the Latin people should build their capital city. The legend goes on to say that Ascanius approached the location indicated by his dreams and founded Alba Longa. His descendants eventually gave birth to the princess Rhea Silvia who became the mother of the famed Romulus and Remus. Nowadays, the original city has been lost but the white boar and the inscription “Mater Urbis” are on the coat of arms of Albano to remind all of its origin as the “birthplace of Rome”.



Frascati - day view
Frascati - piazzaFrascati - particularFrascati - view

Frascati is a small city of 20 000 people, mainly known for its delicious white wine and mild climate. It is located only 20 km south-east of Rome and belongs to the Colli Albani territory (Alban Hills) in the region named Castelli Romani. Frascati is one of the most visited villages near Rome because it offers different historical villas built during the 16th and 17th centuries, churches, museums and of course, vineyards. In the past, Frascati was a special place where Roman aristocrats and popes used to come and relax: “It was a quiet place where they would be able to enjoy life peacefully without taking care of politics”.

Things to see

Among the villas in Frascati, it is possible to visit the lovely Villa Aldobrandini and its wonderful Italian terrace gardens. It was built in 1600 for the cardinal Pietro Aldobrandini who was the nephew of the pope Clement VIII. Goethe stayed in this villa and asked for a painting capturing the view he had from his bedroom window.

Frascati is also known for its wine. This city has maintained some very old traditions and it is possible to enjoy glass of wine or a carafe in some special places. In some wine shops and cantinas, the wine will be served directly from the barrel; people are suggested to bring their own food to enjoy with the wine.

The small city offers a very nice view on the Roman countryside while its city center has kept its medieval architecture. That said, its most notable period of development came during the 16th and 17th centuries. Several famous Italian artists such as Della Porta, Borromini and Domenico Fontana came to Frascati and worked in making the small city more enjoyable. Della Porta and Fontana drew the plans for the Villa Aldobrandini while Borromini made renovations in the Villa Falconieri in 1628.

Unfortunately, the development of the city stopped when Pope Urban VIII set up his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo instead of Frascati. Little by little, the different villas were abandoned and people moved in Castel Gandolfo where the religious and political life had taken new root.