Picturesque Roads in North Lazio

OK, so you’ve decided to ‘self-drive’ and go exploring further out of Rome into the wilderness of the unspoiled Lazio countryside….but, which are the best routes?…the prettiest drives?…and should you head north, or east, or south? Certainly not west, as that would take you into the Sea!

Uncomfortably, many roads in the region are quite lumpy and bumpy, so I would like to share a few personal favourites, which offer stunning scenery and fewer bumps – some smooth enough, in fact, to get a bit of speed up [in your Ferrari]!
As well as photos I’ve included links to Google maps.LAZ ESC post photo4 680 width
First off – the ancient territory known as Tuscia (province of Viterbo).
Driving roughly from Sutri to Viterbo, heading off the beaten path, there is a wonderful stretch of road between Ronciglione and the Cimini forest on the SP1 (Strada Provinciale 1) and up a short section (right) of SP25, then (left) onto SP32, and finally fork left onto SP62) to a restaurant in the centre of the Cimini mountains called Baita La Faggeta. There is a large car park at the top and a choice of walks and fairly challenging mountain bike routes.
[click link for map] Ronciglione – Cimini Mountains

LAZ ESC post photo1 680 widthPictured (above) is part of the main high street through Ronciglione. As you see (fairly well) from this photo, it’s very attractive with colourful pink and yellow buildings lining the road on either side. From one end of the town you reach Sutri and the other you arrive at Lake Vico. If you’re hungry while passing through there is a Pompi for gelato, desserts, coffee and other drinks; there is a fantastic pasticceria (pastry shop) just tucked down one of the back streets in the old ‘borgo’ called Dolce Borgo on Via del Lavatoio – try their zabaglione or pistacchio cream-filled choux buns, or if you’re there at Easter try their mini chocolate bunnies! For hot toasted sandwiches and panini try the bar called Rio Vicano, on the corner as you approach the lake. They have a large car-park and they also sell newspapers, gifts {hats, bags, accessories}.LAZ ESC post photo3 680 widthIf you visit Lake Vico in Spring you see these beautiful fields like carpets of yellow flowers. To reach them head to the north-east side of the lake and follow the lake road anticlockwise towards Monte Venere (the Mount of Venus) where you’ll find a car park and a footpath up into the woods.LAZ ESC post photo2 680 widthThe road from Vetralla (olive oil) to Tarquinia (Etruscan necropolis) takes you through charming little Monte Romano. We’ve had to make two emergency stops here over the years (loo’s and ATM machine) and were happily satisfied both times. The high street offers a selection of bars, there is ample parking and a few petrol stations. The road is the Via Aurelia Nord/SS 1bis Via Aurelia. The route is nice as it brings you into Tarquinia at the top end close to the necropolis if you turn right onto the SP43 Via Ripagretta. If you continue along the Via Ripagretta you arrive at the old city walls where there is a large car park, from where you can easily stroll into the old town.

A short distance from Vetralla is Cura di Vetralla which is another attractive through road with bars, pastry shops and a couple of high-end clothing stores (Bellettini and Bellettini Blu outlet).
[click link for map] Vetralla – Tarquinia

Next – the province of Rome.
LAZ ESC post photo5 680 widthIf you were a fan or Spaghetti Westerns or can at least remember them…you should come to this next area. Spaghetti Westerns were also known as Italian Westerns or Macaroni Westerns on account of them being produced or directed by Italians, following the success of Sergio Leone, and was a broad sub-genre of Western films that emerged in the mid-1960s. They were generally considered to be inferior to American Westerns, often having lower budgets.

Film locations were mainly Spain and Germany but some were also filmed in Lazio and in this area such as Manziana, Antica Monterano and the ghost town Monterano “città abbandonata” in particular, which are not far away. Coincidentally this area is (and has been for centuries) known for its ‘Butteri’ (Italian Cowboys) and you see evidence of this in the landscape as you drive through, with typical ranch-style fencing, plus rodeo and other equine events.
[click link for map] Tolfa – Santa Severa

Sutri – Bracciano via Trevignano
OK, this road IS a bit lumpy but it’s a fast way to reach Bracciano lake from Vico lake (or visa versa) and you do drive through attractive hazelnut plantations, olive trees and part of the Bracciano-Martignano Nature Reserve, which sort of makes up for it. Then once you’re at the junction (turn left for Trevignano town), turn right towards Bracciano town and enjoy a very smooth (by Rome standards) lakeside road!LAZ ESC post photo6 680 widthPlaces to eat & drink in Sutri in no particular order: Lo Stregatto (the ‘Cheshire Cat’ from Alice in Wonderland), Il Localetto (the ‘Little Place’) also does “pizza by the metre” and some goof combinations too! We’re going to check out one of the pastry shops and we’ll also try to decide which place we like best for coffee, which we’ll update here!
Places to stay – we love the Etruscan Garden B&B, which reminds me of the home of two of my mother’s great aunts – full of old world charm and cosy familiarity, the other one we like is Etrurian Home B&B – quietly elegant with a charming sun terrace. Both are places I’d happily suggest to visiting family.
[click link for map] Sutri – Bracciano
[for further reading about Sutri click this link]




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