A Perfect Two-Day Trip to Lazio’s Little-Known Coast
The Lazio coastline is full of fascinating and little-known places. One of these is Palo Laziale, a sunny stretch of sea and historical sites between the towns of Ladispoli and Marina di San Nicola. The area is a favourite of savvy Romans looking for a quick getaway from the Eternal City (it’s an easy 40-minute drive from Rome), but it’s still an undiscovered spot among international tourists, despite being home not just to landmarks like the15th-century Odescalchi Castle and the Necropolis of Cerveteri – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – but also fantastic beaches, delicious seafood restaurants and our charming La Posta Vecchia Hotel, of course.
Curious to know more about this under-the-radar destination? Then read travel photographer, creative and blogger Madeline Lu’s two-day guide to Palo Laziale – a perfect itinerary to get a taste for the area, starting with a stay at our magical hidden gem.
Palo Laziale feels like a well-kept secret. There are no big tourist buses in sight; or throngs of tourists brandishing selfie sticks. Arriving here from Rome (a short and easy ride) is like taking a breath of fresh air – quite literally, given the fact you’re just a few feet away from the sea!
Castles, lovely small towns, grand historic villas and beach clubs are the main attraction here, with none of the crowds you’d find on the Amalfi Coast or up in Cinque Terre. That, I think, it’s the area’s greatest charm. It’s a real slice of Italy that only locals really know.
Accommodation-wise, La Posta Vecchia is no doubt your best bet. The property recently got a little bit of a facelift and it looks more regal than ever. Check-in and go take a dip in the pool – it’s the best way to while away the hottest hours of the day – then grab lunch at The Cesar, a perfect spot overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Odescalchi Castle. Most of the vegetables on the menu come from the on-site veggie garden – which you can visit – and are as fresh and tasty as it gets. Pro tip: order the bruschetta with tomatoes and prepare to be blown away.
With lunch behind you and after a little power nap on a terrace lounger, it’s time to start venturing out.
You could head to Marina di San Nicola, a quaint seaside village just a few minutes away from La Posta Vecchia, or explore Oasi del Bosco di Palo (Palo Forest Oasis), a verdant 120 hectare expansealong the sea that’s a treasure trove of wild beauty. Or, why not, you could do like the Italians do and simply go for gelato, the best afternoon snack that ever was.
Hop on one of the hotel’s bikes and ride to Corsetti, a delicious ice-cream parlour seconds away from the sea. Cone in hand, put your toes in the sand at the beach nearby, and marvel at the blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea in front of you.
The rest of the afternoon should be spent just like this: Relaxing by the sea, not a worry in the world – the true essence of the dolce vita lifestyle.
Back on the bike, return to La Posta Vecchia for another very Italian pastime: Aperitivo. A Spritz is obviously a must, but do take a look at the rest of the libations too – the barman uses local ingredients in his concoctions, and the cocktail list is really quite cool.
Dinner is at The Cesar, with prime views of the Odescalchi Castle and even more deliciousness on the menu.
Food-ed out? Good. Now hit the sack. Tomorrow is going to be a busy day.
ISSIMO TIP:Malibu Beach Club, in Marina di Palo is a great beach club for those seeking to spend some time by the sea. Besides sunbeds and the likes, the food and cocktails are excellent, and very much worth the trip
Rise and shine to the sound of the waves outside your window, because today is going to be packed! First off, though, take your time with breakfast, which spans anything from freshly baked cornetti to mozzarella, fresh basil and tomatoes to whip up the most tantalising of summer salads.
Belly full and water bottle in hand, get ready to explore. I had the pleasure of having a fiery red vintage Fiat 500 as my ride of choice – courtesy of bespoke travel company Access Italy – and I highly recommend you opt for the same. A classic 500 is as iconic as the mocha pot or the Vespa when it comes to Italy, and driving one truly is a quintessential local experience.
The Castle of Santa Severa is your first stop for the day. A striking rectangular mediaeval fortress on a promontory, the site is one of the most evocative places of the Lazio region, not to mention a historical and cultural gem. Book yourself a private guided tour and learn all about the past of this fantastic landmark, from the origins of its name – owed to the young Christian martyr Severa, who was killed here on June 5, 298 AD under the empire of Diocletian – to its 14th century architecture.
Before you leave, make sure to visit the early Christian church dedicated to the saint – it dates to the second half of the 5th century! – and, if you happen to be there at the weekend, ask to go up to the watchtower, which boasts stunning views of the sea.
Ready to go for lunch? Then drive to Isola del Pescatore, a fantastic family-run trattoria by the beach of Santa Severa. It’s nothing posh, but rather an unpretentious,utterly delicious restaurant that specialises in seafood, and a real hidden secret that’s jealously guarded by the locals. Watch fishermen bring in the catch of the day as you savour platters of oysters, lobster pasta and more, then wash everything down with the excellent selection of regional wines on offer. This place is truly outstanding. Word the wise: Book in advance!
After an espresso (or two) to gather fresh steam, it’s time to hit the road again.
The Etruscan Necropolis of Cerveteri should be next on your list. Known locally as Necropoli della Banditaccia, it’s the main burials’ area of the ancient Etruscan city of Caere, and one of the most impressive and magnificent necropolis of all Etruria and the Mediterranean (it’s no wonder it was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004). Take your time exploring – there are around 400 tombs varying in structure dating between the 7th and 3rd centuries BC – marvel at the frescoes depicting Etruscan’s daily life, and soak in the historical vibes.
The town of Cerveteri is a short drive away and makes a good pit stop after the necropolis – get yourself a gelato, stroll its streets, or simply drive through before returning to La Posta Vecchia for one last fabulous dinner – and a game of Monopoly.