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Set just an hour northwest of Rome, volcanic Lake Bracciano has long been a beloved retreat for city-weary Romans while remaining largely off the international tourist radar. A popular shore excursion destination from Civitavecchia (or stopover between Rome and Orvieto), the lake is ringed by medieval villages like Bracciano, Anguillara, and Trevignano and its placid expanse is ideal for swimming, sailing, and water sports. The 15th-century Odescalchi Castle looms over the lake, and has served as a dramatic wedding venue for celebrities from Martin Scorsese to Tom Cruise.
When the mercury skyrockets, Romans (and savvy visitors) seek refuge at Lake Bracciano. In the summer high season, urban escapees fill the medieval villages along the shore, hike and bike in the surrounding trails, and set sail across the water. The area’s main festivals take place between June and August and include the Sagra del Pesce (fish festival), Laghidivini (wine festival), Processione delle Barche (boat procession), and Festa Contadina (farmers’ festival).
The lake is less than an hour from Rome by car or train; there are stations in the towns of Bracciano and Anguillara Sabazia. To visit the third village on the lake, Trevignano Romano, take the local Cotral bus that runs along the shore. You can also cycle around the entire lake in less than two hours; there are bicycle and e-bike rental shops in all three villages.
Bracciano is an important reservoir of fresh water for the city of Rome, so motorized boats are banned from its waters (with the exception of electric boats and local ferries). This makes the lake an especially safe and peaceful spot for sailing, windsurfing, stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, and other water sports. There are kiosks that rent gear and offer lessons along the lakefront in all three villages.
A Chicago native, Rebecca remains a lake lover at heart even after three decades in Italy. Lake Bracciano is one of her favorite haunts.
take a dip in one of the cleanest lakes in Italy. Motorized boats are banned so the only company you’ll have are sailboarders, kayakers, and stand-up paddleboarders.
pairs a visit to the chocolate-box towns lining the lake with a refreshing afternoon dip. Break up the day with a wine tasting at one of the under-the-radar cellars in the surrounding hills.
the storybook Orsini-Odescalchi Castle, a 15th-century fortress that has hosted a number of celebrity weddings and never fails to impress with its perfectly preserved crenelated walls and towers.
set off along the trails through the Macchiatonda Nature Reserve and Tarquinia Salt Marshes on foot or by bike to experience the pristine countryside far from the lakeside holiday crowds.
survey the hills and lake with a conqueror’s eye from the top of the watchtowers and bastions ringing the Orsini-Odescalchi Castle. There’s a reason that A-listers tie the knot here.
is heading to Lake Bracciano for a boating excursion. The lake is an important source of drinking water for Rome, and motorized boats are forbidden on the lake.
Yes. An easy drive or train ride from Rome, Lago di Bracciano is a stunning volcanic freshwater lake that makes for an ideal day trip from Italy’s capital. It’s especially popular in summer for Italians and tourists alike looking to beat the heat, although you’ll find plenty of other reasons to visit year-round....More
Yes. Swimming in the lake is one of the region’s most popular summer pastimes—along with kayaking, sailing, and even scuba diving. Bracciano has its own little beach that is reachable from the train station by foot via a trail that leads right through town and then slopes down to the shore....More
The small town of Bracciano is located right on the shores of Lago di Bracciano, or Bracciano Lake, which lies 19 miles (30 kilometers) to the north of Rome and is reachable by car or regional train in just over an hour. The crater lake is a drinking water reservoir for the capital....More
In addition to Bracciano—the lake’s namesake—you’ll also find Anguillara Sabazia, a picturesque and compact town built right along the water. Trevignano is another town situated along the lake worth a visit, although you’ll need your own transportation since only Bracciano and Anguillara are reachable by train....More
The town is home to the stunning Castello Orsini-Odescalchi, a 15th-century residential castle that once served as the estate of one of the region’s most powerful ducal families. The castle can be visited either independently or on a guided tour. Fun fact: It was where Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes wed in 2007....More
Another picturesque lake town, Anguillara is Bracciano’s more laid-back cousin. It’s also reachable by train, although you’ll need a bus to get into town from the station. Along with black-sand beaches, you’ll find a well-preserved medieval town center with top-notch views and tasty restaurants serving up freshly caught fish and eels....More
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