Lazio’s hidden beach getaway
Just a 40-minute drive from Rome on the historic Via Aurelia, and you’ll find yourself in Palo Laziale and Ladispoli, Lazio’s under-the-radar coastal escape, and home to La Posta Vecchia, the incredible Getty villa where Marie-Louise grew up. The coastline is dotted with castles, villas, beach clubs and small towns. Exploring the area today requires a step back in time.
“Palo Laziale is an incredible place with amazing sites that no one knows”, says Andrea Provvidenza, founder and owner of LodenTal. As a child, Andrea vacationed in Palo Laziale and Ladispoli and developed a fascination with the “classico rivisitato”, along with a friendship with the Scìo family.
Andrea Provvidenza and revisiting the classics tradition
Revisiting tradition inspired Andrea to launch LodenTal, a line of outerwear loden coats, which are traditionally associated with generations passed. Several years back, Andrea was gifted by his father several tailor shirts along with decades-old loden jackets. The gorgeous wool coats were in perfect condition and were the impetus for Andrea to bring loden to the 21st century in 2012.
LodenTal isn’t your nonno’s green wool cool. Andrea sources top quality loden wool for the original Austrian fabric house, reimagined in new styles and vibrant colours. And Andrea is just as serious about sartorial quality, as was Habsburg Archduke Johann, brother of Emperor Franz II who vaulted loden from peasant wear to mode noblesse. Andrea invites all LodenTal coats to be inheritances and believes in quality guarantee.
Escape to Palo Laziale
When not enjoying the cold in colourful LodenTal, Andrea can be found enjoying the escape of Palo Laziale and Ladispoli, favoured beach getaways for Romans. “There is nothing quite like Palo and the area,” says Andrea, who spends part time in Palo Laziale, when not in Rome.
“It has a rich history from its ancient past and medieval castles to the unique story of being a wellness destination for Romans since the 1950s. And there is beautiful nature reserves, home to very interesting migrating birds that you would never expect.”
From Etruscan outpost to Cinecittà
Ladispoli is located in what was once Alsium, a port city and subsequent gateway to Etruria and eventually a Roman colony and resort for the rich and famous like Pompey, Cicero and the Antonine emperors. It fell on to hard times with the demise of the empire, but by the Middle Ages, influential families like the Orsini and eventually the Odescalchi who single-handedly transformed the area to a beach and wellness destination.
In the late 1880s, Prince Baldassare Ladislao Odescalchi VI transformed the old neighborhood around the family’s historic Castello di Palo into Ladispoli, and connected it by railway to Rome. Ladispoli, named for Ladislao himself, became a wellness destination, known for its therapeutic iron sand beaches (which are still used today for wellness). A direct train from Rome would transport visitors to Ladispoli-Cerveteri station where they were immediately given beach towels et al and sent to the fabulous hotels and stazioni balneari (beach clubs). Since day one, Ladispoli was and still is a spiaggia della salute (beaches for wellbeing) for its healing sand.
n the 1950s, the beaches of Palo Laziale and Ladispoli were Cinecittà’s preferred backdrop for the swashbuckling pirates of Emilio Salgari, and its beautiful fortress and park was stage for films by Vittorio De Sica and John Huston. Even earlier int the 1940s, Ladispoli was both hometown and backdrop for director Roberto Rosselini’s first short films.
ISSIMO’s Guide to Palo Laziale and Ladispoli
Palo Laziale is a small hamlet where you’ll find the Castello di Odescalchi (also known as Castello di Palo) a medieval fortress slash Renaissance castle with a pedigree that includes some of Rome’s most rich and infamous like the Orsini family and the Borgia pope before its Odescalchi ownership. Adjacent to Castello di Palo is Oasi del Bosco di Palo (Palo Forest Oasis), a verdant 120 hectare expanse along the sea and wild beauty of animal and plant species. Immediately south of Palo is La Posta Vecchia, a 17th century villa and nearby Castellaccio di Monteroni, not quite on the same upkeep but historically interesting nonetheless.
From Palo Laziale past Ladispoli, the beach side is lined with colourful umbrellas for every kind beach club, including the historic Columbia which opened in 1947 and to this day is a destination for wellness seekers. And north along the coast is 43-hectare swampland Marsh of Torre Flavia which includes the remnants of a medieval military fortification and natural reserve ideal for bird watchers as it is natural haven for migratory birds like ruddy turnstones, Eurasian oystercatchers, and little ringed plovers. At its north is another amazing (yes, we know) medieval outpost Castello di Santa Severa, whose 21st history includes a starring role in the series Medici.
For more medieval life, a 20-minute inland to Borgo di Ceri, a 12th century wonder town with its Church and sanctuary Madonna di Ceri, where frescoes from the Roman School depict Old Testament scenes. Nearby is UNESCO World Heritage site Cerveteri, one of the most important Etruscan cities and its Necropoli della Banditaccia, the largest ancient necropolis in the Mediterranean area. Nature lovers will want to take a hike to the Cascate di Castel Giuliano, gorgeous waterfalls in a mind-blowing setting.
From the pages of Marie-Louise’s Palo Lazio address book, here are her favourite spots for eats and treats. For a downhome Lazio vibe, Trattoria da Augusto. For fish, Pescheria La Paranza and for history, the centennial La Tripolina. Marie-Louise always getsciambelline fritte and a cappuccino from Piccadilly, whose signage is tops!
Thanks to its iron-rich earth, Ladispoli is perfect for artichoke cultivation, so be on the look out and taste any incarnation you find. Additionally, foodies will love Ladispoli’s weekly market (held on Tuesdays), smoked salmon at Sapor Maris, alimentari O Sole Mio for mozzarella and other delights, and cheese lovers must make the pilgrimage to mecca Isola del Formaggio.