Mysterious Hills, Wine Festivals and the Pope’s Second Home…

Castel Gondolfo

What do all of these things have in common?  They take place in the Castelli Romani. These are hillside towns to the southeast of Rome. It is a place where many Romans go (ummmm…including the Pope)  to escape the suffocating heat in the summer and where we go sometimes just to get an ice-cream.

There are many towns that make up this area, but today I am going to talk about:  Ariccia, Marino, and Castel Gandolfo.

I actually started this post only to show a few interesting videos (one of my own and a better one I found on youtube), but then I thought I would include a little bit of info about the area. I think if you are visiting Rome and have a bit of time and want to get off the beaten path, going to these towns is a very nice side trip. As mentioned above, during the summer you find some relief from the heat,  but also it means you get to “Do as the Romans Do!”

Now, what are these funny videos?  Actually, these videos just show an interesting and “mysterious” road near the town of Ariccia. As it turns out, it is not as mysterious as I thought and I will explain why in a bit. But first, look at this video I made. It is very short. The second video I found is much more clear on what is happening on the street, and also the Italian audio provides some extra entertainment.

As it turns out, there is nothing mystical about this street, and in fact, it is just an optical illusion. By measuring the altitudes at various parts of the street, it has been established that this street is actually a decline not an incline although it appears as an incline. Ummmm….ok?  I guess we have to take the word of the experts because it looks like an incline to me. But I have seen enough episodes of ‘Brain Games’ to know that such optical illusions exist. Still, illusion or mystery, this street is always a fun place to bring unsuspecting visitors!

Now – imagine visiting that mystical hill after a day of drinking free wine from a neighboring town’s fountains!  You can do this if you happen to be in Marino during the first weekend of October. The town of Marino is only 6 miles from Ariccia and can be reached in 30 minutes by train from Rome’s Termini station. The Sagra dell’Uva has wine that flows out of the fountain in the central square as you can see in the photo. It is a crazy time place to be. Tons of people, lots of confusion, but hey – – free wine flowing from a fountain?  Who would not want to take part in that?

Marino Wine Fest

Marino Wine Fest

Another nice town in the Castelli Romani is Castel Gandolfo. The traditional summer residence of the pope, this hilltop village offers views of the blue-green, volcanic Lake Albano below. This cobblestoned town has many outdoor cafes, ice-cream shops and views to die for. Here is hubby walking up the street heading towards the Piazza Liberta’. Nice place to be on a summer’s day!  Castel Gandolfo can also be reached by train from Termini. Take the Albano Laziale line and get off at the Castel Gandolfo stop.

Castel Gandolfo, castelli romani, rome

Hubby walking around Castel Gandolfo

Castel Gandolfo, castelli romani, rome

View of Lake Albano below

Castel Gandolfo, castelli romani, rome

A meal with a view!

Photo attribution:

Sagra Marino:  Alessio Damato


Hilltop Towns Near Rome

19 Comments on “Mysterious Hills, Wine Festivals and the Pope’s Second Home…

  1. I almost made the trek to Marino for the wine festival but got a late start and decided not to brave the crowds. I heard one year there was a mix-up in the plumbing, and wine flowed freely from residents kitchen faucets!!

    • fabulous! I don’t doubt it…only in Italy would there be a wine fountain, and only in Italy could they make the mistake of pumping it through to kitchen faucets! Thanks for that fun addition to my post!

  2. A wine fountain!? YES! I wasn’t sure if I was more impressed by your hubby’s swagger or the view behind him 😉

    • Linda! You are so fun and funny! “swagger”…yes…he for sure has the quintessential Italian walk/mannerisms..but he lived in Texas for 8 years, so a bit of that was tempered (in a good way)…but he has still retained his essential Italians ways. 🙂

    • Hi Julie! Thank you for your comment! We always enjoy going to those towns when we visit Umberto’s family. As mentioned in the post, sometimes we will go there with his family just for an ice-cream. Italians live like that. It is all about pleasure.

  3. that’s crazy – I don’t understand how that can be downhill. Wine fountain sounds like so much fun. The swagger comment above is so funny 🙂

  4. Oh how you make me long to go back to Italy! I would absolutely love to visit either Marino or Aricci – wine fountain? Yes please!!
    Love the inclusion of those videos 😀 And those pictures of your husband are lovely – quite the handsome Italian!

    • Hi Sophie! I know! The wine fountain is a classic. If you ever come to Italy, please let me know! And even if we could not hook up, I would be happy to help you plan a trip! 🙂 Thank you for your kind hubby comments…yes…he was a good souvenir choice…

      • bahaha a souvenir! Love it 😀
        Thank you so much for the sweet offer, I will definitely take you up on it!

  5. That wine fountain is amazing… I like that they need big barriers to hold everyone back!! Looks like another place to add to the ‘must visit’ list!

  6. I LOVE the wine flowing from the fountain! And I love the pictures of Umberto! Mr Male model with stunning scenery!!! Thanks for sharing!

    • Hi Sheri! Thanks for the fun comment. Did you see a few comments back? Seems one year the local organizers made a mistake and piped the wine to the local residents’ homes instead of the fountain! Ha, ha, ha! Anyway…I hope you and the family are doing well!!! Big Baci!

  7. Pingback: Fall Festivals in Italy | Italy: Translated!

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