Rome’s New Archeology Czar

News outlets are reporting that the Italian government has appointed Guido Bertolaso, of Naples garbage crisis fame, to head a new effort to address the poor state of Rome’s archeological treasures. According to the International Herald Tribune, Bertolaso will be in charge of whipping into shape some of Rome’s most famous – but crumbling –  buildings, particularly those on the Palatine Hill (including Nero’s Golden House) and in Ostia Antica. The czar will only have until December 31 to set a plan into action, so it’s not sure how much will get done. On the other hand, after he was appointed to handle the trash problem in May 2008 the emergency was over by July. Good luck, Mr. Bertolaso!

Beaches of Lazio

Continuing our series on Italy’s beaches, today we’re highlighting the beaches of Lazio. Most visitors to Lazio, Rome’s region, forget that the Tyrrhenian is as close as half an hour away. In fact, many Roman nightclubs relocate to beaches like Fregene. And, there are also some lovely strands south of Rome in Terracina and Sperlonga.

Province of Viterbo
The area known as the Maremma extends into the northern part of Lazio in the province of Viterbo. The sub-region is called the Maremma Laziale, and it has a couple of beaches worth checking out. The Marina di Montalto near the medieval town of Montalto di Castro is a modern tourist resort with hotels, campgrounds, and plenty of beach chairs to rent for the day. Further south, Tarquinia, which is known for its Archeological Museum of local Etruscan finds, also has a seaside area with similar facilities to Marina di Montalto.

Beaches of Rome
Did you known you can access Rome’s nearest beach by train? It takes about half an hour to ride the train from Piramide (Metro Line B), past Ostia Antica, to the Ostia Lido stop where you want to go. Rome’s local beach, which is also convenient to Fiumicino Airport in case you’ve got a long layover, has several large hotels and, in summer, a vibrant nightlife scene. Another summer favorite for Romans is Fregene, which can also be accessed by public transport (Metro Line A to Lepanto, then blue COTRAL bus to Fregene; travel time: 1 hour). While Fregene is known as the summer address of many big Roman clubs, such as Goa or Gilda, its also a great place to ride a bike and eat tasty seafood, as explained by this New York Times’ article on Fregene.

Elsewhere in the province of Rome are lesser-frequented beaches and extremely busy ports. If you’re taking a cruise that bypasses Rome, then you’ll be disembarking at Civitavecchia. This huge port is not necessarily where you want to plop down a beach towel, but it is here where you can rent a boat or catch a ferry to Sardinia. However, within the Civitavecchia municipality, there are a few stretches of sandy beach. Down the Via Aurelia from Civitavecchia is the seaside resort of Santa Marinella, which is geared more towards families than club-goers. Many other towns and beaches dot the coast of the Province of Rome all the way down to Anzio, a European Blue Flag (i.e., exemplary) beach with ferry connections to the Pontine Islands, and Nettuno, where you can not only catch some rays, but in summer also a little baseball. Of course, Anzio and Nettuno are well-known for being sites of major American offensives during World War II – and, consequently, of American Memorial cemeteries.

Riviera d’Ulisse
The coastline along the Province of Latina is better known as the Riviera d’Ulisse or the Riviera of Ulysses. Ulysses is the Latin for Odysseus, who is said to have landed here during his famous Odyssey. These are the beaches worth going out of the way for if you are staying in Lazio for a while. White sand, dramatic cliffs, and romantic grottoes make up the geography here, from San Felice Circeo to Terracina to Sperlonga. The area of San Felice Circeo is a hub for windsurfing and kayaking and the Parco Nazionale del Circeo is a favorite haunt for birdwatchers.

The Pontine Islands
Finally, the small cluster of islands off the coast of Lazio are known collectively as the Isole Pontine. Part of the Province of Latina, most of the Pontine Islands are uninhabited, save for Ponza and Ventotene. Like the nearby Circeo Park, Ponza and Ventotene are known for their wildlife and nature preserves, which make them a real getaway from the hustle and bustle of Rome (or crowded beaches). To read more about Ponza, check out The Independent’s article Ponza: Italy’s Secret.

Photo by Mortimer