Duration : 9 Hours
Our Countryside, Castles, and Cute Villages shore excursion from Civitavecchia is a perfect choice for those who have already been to Rome and are looking for something different to do that is also close to port. Set in the picturesque countryside around Lake Bracciano, the Medieval villages on our itinerary are ideal destinations for those seeking a taste of authentic Italian culture and an eyeful of natural beauty.
Even though it came to the forefront of world attention in 2006 when Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes celebrated their wedding there, Bracciano Castle has been hosting the rich, famous, and powerful for hundreds of years. Queens, popes, cardinals, ambassadors, and nobles from all over Europe have come to the castle and tarried in its rooms, negotiating deals and coming to decisions that have had historical implications not only for Rome (in those days, Rome was a city-state; Italy was not unified as a nation until the 19th Century) but for important European states as well.
The Castle, whose proper name is Castello Orsini-Odescalchi, citing the influential Italian families who built and have owned it, is a magnificent medieval fortress situated in the charming town of Bracciano, located about forty minutes east of the port of Civitavecchia. The castle's history dates back to the late 15th century, when construction was begun under the Orsini family. The Orsini, whose origins can perhaps be traced back to Ancient Roman elite, were a powerful and influential noble family during the Medieval and Renaissance periods in Italy.
Bracciano Castle stands as a prime example of Italian Renaissance military architecture. While the vision and wealth of the Orsini family brought it into being, it is said that their greed spelled its demise. The property was auctioned in 1696 and purchased by the illustrious Odescalchi family. The Odescalchi have maintained it almost continuously for centuries, opening it to the public in 1952.
Bracciano Castle features a blend of architectural styles, characterized by its imposing stone walls, regal watchtowers, and a beautifully preserved drawbridge. The interior is equally captivating, showcasing opulent rooms adorned with frescoes, tapestries, coffered ceilings, antique furnishings, and terra cotta floors. Besides a panoramic terrace with breathtaking views of Lake Bracciano, the castle also has a secret garden (as all castles should), making it an ideal location for events and weddings.
Throughout its history, Bracciano Castle has been a place of opulence and intrigue. Today, it remains one of the best-preserved castles in Italy, offering visitors a unique opportunity to step back in time and immerse themselves in the rich history and enchanting beauty of this architectural gem.
For an excellent description of the rooms and spaces at Bracciano Castle:
Anguillara Sabazia has sometimes been described as a city like Atlantis that disappeared under the sea, although in the case of Anguillara we have definitive evidence that the place existed and was consumed by Lake Bracciano.
In Medieval times, the village was a feudal holding of the Anguillara family. In more recent times, it has become a popular weekend getaway destination for the inhabitants of Rome. The lakeshore area today is a promenade bursting with cafès and restaurants. The old town also merits a visit, especially the churches with notable works of art, Palazzo Baronale with its frescoes, and the quaint piazzas with panoramic views. The bastions of Anguillara’s Medieval towers have been transformed into a museum that tells the story of local farming culture.
Anguillara, which was featured in two episodes of Everybody Loves Raymond that aired in 2000, was a Roman settlement from around the 1st century BCE. The Medieval village built on top of that is yet evidenced by cobbled streets and centuries-old buildings.
On the outskirts of town in an area known as La Marmotta, site of an early Neolithic village dating back to 5700 BCE. Unlike Atlantis, moral decay and military aggression were not the cause of its mythical decline and disappearance; the settlement was simply engulfed by the lake as water levels rose. The Neolithic Exhibition Center in La Marmotta will interest those with a penchant for really old stuff and civilizations.
For a listing of things to do in Anguillara:
Tolfa is yet another picturesque town near Civitavecchia, this time nestled into the slopes of the Tolfa Mountains. With panoramic views of the surrounding countryside, Tolfa enchants visitors with its narrow cobblestone streets, pretty squares, and historic buildings. The architecture here is a pleasing mix of Medieval and Renaissance influences, with well-preserved structures like Palazzo Panetti, the village’s most impressive Renaissance building, and Palazzaccio, which was originally constructed as the Palazzo dei Priori, the town hall.
Tolfa gained sudden importance during the Renaissance, when alunite was discovered in 1461. Alunite is the source of alum, an essential substance in the textile industry that was so vital to the Renaissance. The discovery of alunite in Tolfa abruptly shifted the monopoly on alum held by Ottoman Turks to the papacy and the Medici family of Florence, into whose hands the Pope entrusted its distribution. This natural resource drove the local economy until the Early Modern Italian period, not to mention making a fortune for the Catholic Church and the Medici.
Alum also plays a key role in leather tanning, which became a hallmark of Tolfa. The village is still known for its top-quality leather goods, particularly its signature handbag that recalls the satchels of cowherds from times gone by.
If you are not in the market for leather goods, no worries. The surrounding natural beauty is another highlight of Tolfa. With its lush landscape and rolling hills, the town offers a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of Rome.
*What to expect from your driver on a private day trip or shore excursion:
Our drivers will share with you the facts and history of the places and monuments you will be seeing from inside the vehicle. Note that drivers in Italy are not permitted to share information once you have exited the vehicle, nor can they accompany you on foot. You will have the opportunity to stop in each area listed on the itinerary to explore on your own. We can arrange a private guide for you if you wish to be accompanied inside churches, archeological sites, and other points of interest.
Is this tour private?
Yes, this tour is private. You will have a vehicle and driver for your group only.
Is the driver also a guide?
Kindly note that our drivers are NOT licensed guides. Our drivers will share with you the facts and history of the places and monuments you will be seeing from inside the vehicle. Drivers in Italy are not permitted to share information once you have exited the vehicle, nor can they accompany you on foot. You will have the opportunity to stop in each area listed on the itinerary to explore on your own. We can arrange a private guide for you if you wish to be accompanied inside churches, archeological sites, and other points of interest.
Does this tour include lunch and admission fees to sites?
Lunch, admission fees, and gratuities are not included in the rate.
What is the duration of the excursion?
Up to 9 hours. No reductions are given should you wish to shorten the service.
Do you guarantee the return to the ship on time?
In over 35 years of business, we have never caused a client to miss the boat. We have organized all itineraries to guarantee your return to the ship on time.
There will be a full charge made to your credit card for no-shows and bookings canceled with less than 72 hours notice, including the cost of any pre-purchased tickets. Pre-purchased tickets are not refundable under any circumstances.
Please keep us apprised of any problems or changes during your travels (flight delays and changes, missed connections, port changes, etc.) and we will do our best to adapt. If you are on a cruise ship and it does not come into port, your service will be annulled and no penalty will apply (with the exception of skip-the-line tickets; you will owe us for any entrance fees we have pre-paid on your behalf, regardless of circumstances.)
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