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Romes Alluring Volcanoes


Traversing the Alban Hills

Roman Campagna (Thomas Cole, 1843). Alban Hills in background.

Just outside Rome looms a massive complex of dormant volcanoes with two dazzling crater lakes. Since antiquity this wild terrain has inspired mysticism and spurred fables: the Golden Bough, the sacred spring of Egeria, the tale of Romulus and Remus. Sturdy Roman roads led pilgrims to the Sanctuary of Diana at Lake Nemi, and up to a temple of Jupiter on the mountaintop. More affluent Romans created country estates, getaways from the city turmoil. In medieval times Christian hermits settled in caves, giving birth to monasticism. And in the 17th century, as the “Grand Tour” got underway, artists appreciative of ancient myths and Arcadian landscapes began to arrive:

The Roman Campagna (Claude Lorrain, c. 1639)
The Roman Campagna (Claude Lorrain, c. 1639)
The Golden Bough (JMW Turner, 1834)
The Golden Bough (JMW Turner, 1834)
Tusculum Theater (Worthington Whittredge, 1860)
Tusculum Theater (Worthington Whittredge, 1860)
Nemi (Camille Corot, c. 1845)
Nemi (Camille Corot, c. 1845)

In the Middle Ages, rival fortifications sprang up in the hilltop villages, inspiring the nickname Castelli Romani (Roman Castles), which has stuck to this day. Now it’s a large regional park packed with ancient ruins, medieval delights, hiking trails and stunning views:

Lakes Nemi and Albano (photo: T. Ellison)
Lakes Nemi and Albano (photo: T. Ellison)
Vista from Rocca di Papa (photo: T. Ellison)
Vista from Rocca di Papa (photo: T. Ellison)

A New Walking Trip

In 2023 we’ll enjoy a grand traverse of the Alban Hills, from the Roman town of Tusculum in the north, across to Rocca di Papa, highest of the Castelli towns, and south to Lake Nemi and Nemi town. We’ll visit Castel Gandolfo overlooking Lake Albano as well. Join us!

aerial view of area
Roman Theatre, Tusculum
Roman Theatre, Tusculum
 Lake Albano from Castel Gandolfo
Lake Albano from Castel Gandolfo
Rocca di Papa
Rocca di Papa
Lake Nemi
Lake Nemi

Some sights along the way:

Roman Cistern, Albano
Roman Cistern, Albano
Roman Via Sacra
Roman Via Sacra
Museum of Roman Ships, Lake Nemi
Museum of Roman Ships, Lake Nemi
Medieval hermitage above Lake Albano
Medieval hermitage above Lake Albano

Traversing the Alban Hills

A seven-day walking excursion (dates by arrangement)

4 to 6 guests: join a group or create your own

Cost: 2100-2600 Euros per person depending on group size (double occupancy; add 15% for single). Includes daily guided walks (typically 5-8 miles), all meals, wine, lodging, transportation and site admissions. Excludes flight cost.
Price in US Dollars calculated at time of trip.

Departure from Rome between 10 and 11 am.
Rendezvous point to be arranged. Plan to spend at least 2 nights in Rome before your trip for jet lag recovery. Lodging suggestions available.

Write to me with questions or to book your trip.
Booking deposit US$500 per person.

More trips

Via Appia: Queen of Roads

From Rome to Castel Gandolfo, walking the most iconic of Roman roads. Details in Newsletter 35.

Via Cassia: Sutri to Orvieto

The great pilgrimage road to Rome from the north passes through gorgeous hill towns with fascinating stories. See Newsletter 34.

Mountains and Sea: Rome’s south coast

Overlooking the Via Appia, limestone cliffs crowned with colorful medieval towns skirt the coast. Extra days at beautiful Lake Nemi are possible by request. See Newsletter 31.

The Valley of Umbria

Walking in the land of Saint Francis. See Newsletter 38.

Please write to me with questions.

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