DAYTRIPS FROM ROME

DAYTRIPS FROM ROME

NETTUNO. Following the collapse of the Empire, Roman refugees in flight from marauding Goths installed themselves in the shadows of a coastal temple to Neptune 60km south of Rome. World War II saw the partial destruction of Nettuno and the decimation of nearby Anzio, when amphibious Allied forces emerged from the Tyrrhenian Sea to initiate their advance upon Nazi-occupied Rome. A walk down V. Colombo from the train station takes you to the shore and the perpendicular V. Matteoti. Turn left onto V. Matteoti in order to descend to the marina, teeming with yachts. Entrance to the beaches is free, provided that you rent a beach umbrella and a chair for an easy ‚ 15. However, if you continue left past the marina and the church, you will reach the public beach, which can get quite crowded in the summer as Romans go on their weekend getaways. Sites of historical and aesthetic interest include a highly touristed medieval quarter: to the right of the marina. A right from V. Colombo onto V. Matteoti will take you to P.S. Francesco, which is dominated by the Fortezza Sangallo, a tum-of-the-16th-century fortress that houses the rather musty Museo dello Sbarco Alleato, devoted to the Allied landing. (Open Tu-Su 9am-lpm and 2-6pm. Free.)Another reminder of Lazio’s unfortunate positioning in the path of the World War II juggernaut is the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery, stretching over 77 acres of Italian cypress trees, trickling fountains, and expansive verdant lawns. To reach the cemetery, turn right coming out of the train station and then right again onto V.S. Maria. The memorial at the top of the park con-tains a chapel, as well as extensive map murals depicting the Allied drive up the peninsula. Americans run the information office to the right of the entrance, and will provide info and help locate graves. (Open daily 9am-5pm.) Take the regional train from Termini to Nettuno (lhr. every hr. ‚2.90.) Pro Loco tourist office is in the right comer of marina. (06 980 33 35; www.proloconettuno.it. Open M-E 10am- 12:30pm and 5-7:30pm, Sa 10am-12:30pm and 6-8pm.)

PONZA. As the largest of the Pontine Islands, Ponza was also the one most susceptible to pirate attacks, which were frequent until the arrival of the fierce and wealthy Bourbon monarchs in 1734. The laid-back island lifestyle has resulted in a happy disregard for signs, street names, and maps. Isole Pontine, a comprehensive guide to the islands, is available at newsstands for ‚6.20. Beaches are the reason for the season in Ponza. Cala dello Schiavone and Cala Cecata (on the bus line) are the best and most accessible spots. The most spectacular views on the island are available at Chiaia di Luna, an expansive, rocky beach set at the bottom of a 200m tufo cliffside. Another point of sunbathing interest is the Piscine Naturale, just a quick ride through Ponza’s lovely hillside. Take the bus to Le Foma and ask to be let off at the Piscine. Cross the street and make your way down the long, steep path. Spiny sea urchins line the rocks, so take caution. From Rome, take the train from Termini to Anzio (lhr. every hr. 6am-llpm, ‚2.90) and then the Linee Vetor hydrofoil from Anzio to Ponza (lhr. ‚20-23). The ticket office in Anzio is on the quay (06 984 50 85; www.vetor.it.). Pro Loco tourist office is on V. Molo Musco, at the right of the port in the long red building. ( 07 718 00 31; proloco- ponza@libero.it. Open in summer M-Sa 9am-lpm and 4-8:30pm, Su 9am-lpm.)

FRASCATI. Patrician villas dotting the hillside are a testament to the peculiar power of Frascati, and, possibly, of its superb dry white wines. The sculpture-filled gardens of the Villa Aldobrandini dominate the hills over P. Marconi, while a 1km walk up on F. Massaia leads to the tiny Chiesa dei Cappuccini. A sign above the door announces that you need reservations for marriages, but the Ethiopian Museum next door requires no such foresight. It houses a collection of weapons, handmade crafts, and the death mask of the cardinal who collected the artifacts while doing missionary work. (Open daily 9am-noon and 4-6pm. Free.) The town of Tusculum was an ancient resort for the who’s who of ancient Roman society, including Cicero and Cato. From the entrance of the Villa Aldobrandini, turn right onto V. Tusculo, which climbs 5km over winding country roads to reach the ruins of the collection of villas. The town is a 15min. bus ride from Anagnina Station; the bus driver will let you off at the depot in P. Marconi, the town center.

LOMBARDY (LOMBARDIA)

Over the centuries, Roman generals, German emperors, and French kings have vied for control of Lombardy’s fertile soil and strategic location. The disputing powers failed to rob Lombardy of her prosperity; the region remains the wealthiest in Italy. While Milan may bask in the cosmopolitan spotlight, equally important are the rich culture and beauty of Bergamo, Mantua, and the foothills of the Alps.

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