Castelli Romani

The Castelli Romani are a group of small towns in the Colli Albani hills south-east of Rome. The name means “Roman Castles”, but in reality most of these towns don’t have castles anymore. There are 16 Castelli. The most interesting ones are Frascati, Castel Gandolfo (where the Pope has his summer residence) and Grottaferrata.

Castelli Romani near Rome

The area and the cities

Panoramic view from Frascati
Like Frascati, most of the hill towns offer beautiful panoramic views.

The Castelli Romani are located southeast of Rome, in a hilly region of great natural beauty and magnificent panoramic views. The Riserva Naturale dei Castelli Romani nature reserve runs right through the region. Lake Albano and Lago di Nemi provide coolness in summer.

The following towns, in alphabetical order, make up the Castelli Romani: Albano Laziale, Ariccia, Castel Gandolfo, Colonna, Frascati, Genzano di Roma, Grottaferrata, Lanuvio, Lariano, Marino, Monte Compatri, Monte Porzio Catone, Nemi, Rocca di Papa, Rocca Priora and Velletri.

Albano Laziale

Cathedral, Albano laziale
Albano Laziale Cathedral

Albano Laziale is one of the most beautiful and well-known cities known as the Castelli Romani. It is situated on the south-western shore of Lago Albano. Originally part of the city of Alba Longa, it was formed around a magnificent palace, built in the first century AD by the Emperor Domitian. Remains of the city’s early history can be seen in the Archaeological Museum of Albano in the Villa Ferraioli.


Piazza di Corte
Piazza di Corte, main square of Ariccia

Ariccia is best known in the region for porchetta, a specially treated roasted suckling pig. Since a 17th century pope from the Chigi family had a villa in the town, and Gian Lorenzo Bernini was the papal architect, there are many buildings designed by the famous artist in the town.

Castel Gandolfo

Castel Gandolfo is located above Lake Albano. It is also where the pope has his summer residence today. As a result, the historical center makes an extremely clean and organized impression.


Although the territory of Colonna was inhabited early on, it received its current name only in the Middle Ages. The smallest of the Castelli Romani was named after the family that used to own it in those days.


Villa Aldonrandini Frascati
Frascati’s Villa Aldobrandini

Frascati is the most famous city of the Castelli Romani. It is easily reached by bus or train from Rome and in the historic center there are numerous panoramic views, especially of the Italian capital.


The best time to visit Genzano di Roma is on the day of the Corpus Domini celebration (In Italy this is on the first Sunday after the Feast of the Holy Trinity, which in turn falls on the first Sunday after Pentecost). A religious procession takes place, along a route decorated with a floral carpet.


Abbey of St. Nilus (or of Santa Maria) Grottaferrata
Abbey of St. Nilus (0r of Santa Maria)

The Abbey of Saint Nilus is one of Italy’s most beautiful monasteries and Grottaferrata‘s greatest attraction. The Ad Decimum Catacombs contain more than 800 tombs.


Lanuvio already existed (as Lanuvium) in ancient Roman times. After the original city was completely abandoned to its fate, a revival took place in the 11th century. Unfortunately, the city was almost completely destroyed during World War II.


Lariano is best known for its delicious bread. For tourists, the municipality, which until 1967 used to be part of Velletri, does not have much to offer.


Marino borders directly on Rome and is very easy to reach by train. The town is known for its white wine and for the oldest Sagra dell’Uva (“Grape Festival”) of the country.

Monte Compatri

Monte Compatri is best visited on Aug. 15, when the annual archery tournament between the city’s five districts takes place. Its territory is characterized by forests of oaks, beech and chestnut trees.

Monte Porzio Catone

Monte Porzio Catone is best known for the hermit monastery Eremo dei Camaldoli and for the ruins of the ancient city of Tusculum. The territory of the latter attraction is shared with three other municipalities, including Frascati.


Nemi is the most central municipality of the Castelli Romani. From its historic center there is a magnificent view of the lake of the same name. Every year on the first Sunday of June, Nemi hosts a renowned strawberry festival.

Rocca di Papa

The historic center of Rocca di Papa is characterized by extraordinarily steep streets. The town owes its name, “Rock of the Pope”, to Pope Eugenius III, who used to live there for a time in the 12th century.

Rocca Priora

Of the 16 towns that make up the Castelli Romani, Rocca Priora is the highest. Its main attractions are the Palazzo Savelli and the Santa Maria Assunta in Cielo Church.


Velletri is actually half in the Colli Albani and half in the Agro Pontino. Consequently, not everyone considers it to be prat of the Castelli Romani. During World War II, almost all of the monuments in the town were badly damaged or even completely destroyed.

Castelli Romani

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