Bracciano - Town on the Lake
After completing our 13 day tour of northern Italy we had a few days before travelling to Croatia for the next segment of our European holiday. Our travel agent recommended we spend a few days in a little county town to experience the different village lifestyle. We chose Bracciano a small town on a large lake approximately 60 km from Rome, an hour by train.
On arrival at the train station I was shocked by what we saw, a drab old country town and I thought how will we spend the next 2 days here. I kept my thoughts to myself not wanting to rock the boat with my wife, later finding out that she had similar thoughts. One should always remember not to judge a book by its cover.
We quickly arrived at our pension accommodation and were pleased with our room. It was Sunday lunchtime and we went for a walk around the local streets, finding a small market with a few stalls , vegetables etc, but nothing to excite us.
I then decided we would take the 1.5 km walk to the lake, there must be something there. Along the way we had to decend a very long and steep hill and our thoughts were it is going to be tough getting back. No footpaths to walk on, no houses , only overgrown grapevines and fruit trees. Eventually we reached the lake, a little windy but there was activity, sail boats racing, children paddling on the lake edge, local families walking usually with a gelato in their hand. Then I saw some restaurants built over the beach and lake and we were now starting to feel more at ease. We chose a nice restaurant and had a most enjoyable experience. This was the real Italy, the Italian Family on a Sunday having a large family lunch, children leaving the table and running onto the beach, paddling in the water and then the parents joining them, 10 mintutes later returning to the table to continue the meal, they did not seem concerned that the food had gone cold. We spent 2 hours in this restaurant, great food, interesting atmosphere, but most importantly we were happy.
Now happy to be in Bracciano the walk back up the hill was not so hard and we commenced to see the town differently, we could see the fortified castle towering over the town, on closer examination it was the foundation of the town. Every building in the town was old, hundreds of years old, the streets were hilly, windy and narrow.
The following morning, Monday, the town came alive, very busy with traffic and people , the police woman directing traffic, constantly blowing her whistle, then stopping to have a chat with someone on the footpath. It was pleasant chaos.
We spent the morning walking the town, making cheap international phone calls to Australia, and after lunch took the train back to Rome to visit St Peter's Basilica returning late afternoon.We had dinner that night in a 300 year old restaurant, just fantastic, the best meal we had on our 9 week holiday in Europe. In fact we had the 3 best meals of our holiday in Braccianno.
For those thinking of staying in this district for any lenght of time a car would enable you to visit the many nearby towns.