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Lazio Travel Guide

Forum Romanum in Rome (© mikari - Fotolia.com)
Forum Romanum in Rome.

Introduction

Lazio derives its name from Latium, the region of central western Italy where Latin was originally spoken in ancient times and in which the city of Rome was founded.

With 5.7 million inhabitants, Lazio is the third most populated region of Italy after Lombardy and Campania. It has a high population density (323 inhab./km²) by European standards, higher than any country except the Netherlands and Belgium. The region has the fastest growing GDP in Italy, the second highest GDP, and the fourth highest in GDP per capita at PPP.

Lazio is heavily centred around Rome, where half of the population lives. The second largest city, Latina, only has 120,000 inhabitants. The historical centre of Rome, the Villa d'Este and Hadrian's Villa in Tivoli, and the Etruscan Necropolises of Cerveteri and Tarquinia are all listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

The region has many pretty towns and villages. The most outstanding of them may be the hilltop village of Bagnoregio. The colourful port of Gaeta, close to Campania, is overlooked by a medieval castle built for the Kings of Sicily. Not far from there is the scenic seaside resort of Sperlonga, where Emperor Tiberius had a famous villa.

Famous people from the Latium include (chronologically and not including ancient Romans, nor Popes): the condittiero Cesare Borgia, the architect Gian Lorenzo Bernini, the physicist Enrico Fermi (Nobel Prize), the physicist Emilio G. Segrè (Nobel Prize), the film director Roberto Rossellini, the economist Franco Modigliani (Nobel Prize), the film director Federico Fellini, the composer Ennio Morricone, the actor Marcello Mastroianni, the actress Isabella Rossellini, and the singer Eros Ramazzotti.

Cuisine

The Lazio region has been a great melting pot since the Romans conquered the rest of the Mediterranean. As such, Latin cuisine has picked up influences from diverse horizons, both from inside and outside Italy. Many of its native dishes have since been re-exported to the rest of the world, such as carbonara sauce (eggs, bacon, Parmesan/pecorino cheese and black pepper), arrabbiata sauce (tomatoes, garlic, and red chili peppers cooked in olive oil), all'Amatriciana sauce (cured pork cheek, pecorino cheese, and tomato), stracciatella soup (broth with eggs, Parmesan, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and sometimes semolina) or stracciatella ice cream (vanilla with chocolate streaks).

People in Lazio favour wide types of pasta, like fettuccine, bucatini, rigatoni, or conchiglie. Contrasting with the round Neapolitan pizza with which everyone is accustomed, the Roman pizza al taglio is baked in large rectangular trays, is relatively thick crusted, and sold in square slices by weight in take-away shops. Anchovies are the traditional Roman topping of choice, in addition to tomato and mozzarella.

Latin cuisine makes liberal use of olive oil, garlic, and herbs, notably laurel, rosemary, sage, and mint (spearmint and lesser calamint - or nepitèlla - being two of the most quintessential Roman herbs). The Latin vegetable par excellence is the artichoke. In past centuries, the only meat left to the poor to eat were the least desirable parts, and all sorts of offals have found their way in a number of Roman recipes.

Typical dishes from Lazio include carciofi alla giudia ("Jewish style artichokes"; fried in olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper), carciofi alla romana (artichokes stuffed with mint, garlic, breadcrumbs and braised), coratella d'abbacchio con i carciofi (lamb offals cooked with onions, white wine, olive oil, and artichokes), coda alla vaccinara (stew made of veal tail and entrails cooked with celery, carrots, herbs, tomatoes, prosciutto, wine and a bouquet garni), porchetta (boneless pork roast), rigatoni con la Pajata (with a tomato-based sauce cooked with chunks of intestines from an unweaned calf, with the chyme is left inside), saltimbocca alla Romana (rolled slices of veal stuffed with prosciutto and sage and cooked in wine and butter), and trippa alla Romana (tripe cooked with white wine and tomatoes).

The Latium is an important viticultural regions, with an annual output of 3 million hectolitres, although the vast majority are low-quality table wines. 85% of Lazio wines are white, chiefly made from the Malvasia and Trebbiano grapes. The region has 28 DOC wines, of which the most noteworthy are Castelli Romani, Frascati, Marino, Orvieto (also produced in Umbria), and the sublimely named Est! Est!! Est!!! di Montefiascone*. The 3 DOCG quality labels are Cesanese del Piglio, Canellino di Frascati, and Frascati Superiore, all produced in the Alban Hills southeast of Rome.

* Est! Est!! Est!!! di Montefiascone was named after an old story. In 1111, Henry V of Germany was on his way to Rome to be crowned by the Pope. Accompanying the emperor was Johannes Defuk, a bishop reputed to be a wine expert. He sent forth his cupbearer Martino to taste the local wines at each inn. Whenever he found a place serving quality wine, Martino was to mark the inn's door in chalk with Est (short for the Latin vinum est bonum, 'the wine is good'). So enthused was he with the wine at Montefiascone that he wrote the word three times and with exclamation marks: Est! Est!! Est!!! The bishop shared his servant's opinion, and after leaving Rome decided to cancel the rest of his journey to return to Montefiascone, where he died two years later from excessive drinking.

Attractions

Attractions are listed geographically, from west to east (left to right) and north to south (top to bottom).

Bagnoregio
Bagnoregio, Lazio (© Pietro D'Antonio - Fotolia.com)
outstanding Bagnoregio.
Tuscania
Tuscania, Lazio (© imagestalk - Fotolia.com)
very good Tuscania.



Viterbo
Viterbo, Lazio (© nuvola - Fotolia.com)
very good Viterbo.
Tarquinia ※
Etruscan Necropolis, Tarquinia, Lazio
very good Tarquinia.
Rome (Roma) ※
Spanish Steps, Rome (© krzych-34 - iStockphoto.com)
Best in Europe Rome.
Tivoli ※
Gardens of Villa d'Este in Tivoli, Lazio (© aeruggeri - Fotolia.com)
outstanding Villa d'Este in Tivoli.
Hadrian's Villa (Villa Adriana)
Hadrian's Villa near Tivoli, Lazio (© Valeria73 - Fotolia.com)
very good Hadrian's Villa.
Ostia Antica
Ostia Antica, Lazio (© Bill Perry - Fotolia.com)
very good Ostia Antica.

Other attractions

good Anzio
good Santa Maria di Canneto Sanctuary
very good Casamari Abbey
very good Collalto Sabrino Castle
very good Fossanova Abbey
very good Greccio
very good Monte Cassino Abbey
good Terracina
Anagni
Anagni, Lazio (© enrico863 - Fotolia.com)
very good Anagni.
Alatri
Alatri, Lazio (© enrico863 - Fotolia.com)
very good Alatri.
Sermoneta
Sermoneta Castle, Lazio (© mocav - Fotolia.com)
very good Sermoneta.
Sperlonga
Sperlonga, Lazio (©  Anton Balazh - Fotolia.com)
outstanding Sperlonga.
Gaeta
Gaeta, Lazio (© alessandro0770 - Fotolia.com)
outstanding Gaeta.

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Cities, towns, villages & historic buildings

  • : Moderately interesting - nice for a quick stop
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