The stretch of coast between Civitavecchia and Rome has been the place for settlements of Etruscans, Romans, Greeks and Phoenicians; the towns along the coast still show evidences of these ancient civilizations and the subsequent ones, which is why we suggest you to explore the coast leaving from our holiday apartment and following the highway SS1 from Civitavecchia to Rome; you can relax on the shores of a limpid blue sea, you can visit a medieval castle, an Etruscan cemetery or the nature reserves in the area.
These are the spots that are definitely worth a visit: the castle of Santa Severa (1), the Macchiatonda reserve (2), the oasis of Torre Flavia (3), the necropolis of Banditaccia in Cerveteri (4) and the WWF oasis of Macchiagrande (5).
The Castle of Santa Severa (1) is the ideal place for visiting an ancient medieval village and spend a day by the sea on one of the most beautiful beaches of the Tyrrhenian coast. In this place there was the Etruscan city of Pirgi, later conquered by the Romans; the construction of the castle and the village date back to 1300 and 1400; in the following centuries it was a place of residence of various popes.
Once you arrive to the castle you can visit the Museum of Ancient Navigation, open all year round; here there are the remains of Etruscan and Roman ships found near the coast, as well as instructional paths on the ancient culture of the sea. Walking through the courtyard you will find local craft shops where to buy pottery and medieval objects.
In summer, the castle itself is open to the public; reservations are required during the opening period. For more information visit the website http://www.regione.lazio.it/santasevera.
Continuing south you can visit the Macchiatonda Nature Reserve (2), and discover the natural ecosystem that once characterized the entire coast: ponds of fresh and brackish water, marshes, dunes of sand and a forest of elm and laurel. The reserve is a popular spot for bird watchers; many species of birds rest in this habitat during the winter, spring and autumn: herons, flamingos, hawks. During the migration period it is easy to see wild ducks flying in groups.
Thursday afternoon 14.45 / 17:00
Saturday and Sunday 9:45 / 12:30 - 14:45 / 17:00
The second weekend of each month, access to the reserve is possible only through guided tours for a fee.
You can contact the staff by email to [email protected]
The center of the park visits is at the ground floor of the castle of Santa Severa.
Another place for bird lovers is the oasis of Torre Flavia (3), a swampy area that covers 40 hectares along the coast, an ideal habitat for many species of birds that rest during migration: heron, egret, Mallard and others. The area consists of many small depressions that cyclically are filled with water from the underlying aquifer and rain.
On the shore there are also the ruins of the tower from which the area takes its name: a tower built in 1500 by Cardinal Flavio Orsini as protection against pirate attacks. Near the tower, at low tide, you can see the remains of ancient Roman walls belonging to a villa now submerged by the sea .... the charm of history in an unspoiled natural habitat!
The entrance is free; no opening and closing times.
The journey back in time continues with the visit of the Etruscan necropolis of Banditaccia (4), north of Cerveteri: a land of 10 hectares with 2,000 tombs, some dating back to the ninth century BC.
Following the ancient streets of the necropolis you can walk among the typical circular mounds and visit some burial chambers, a very impressive experience; we recommend to visit the Tomb of the Reliefs.
Ticket costs € 6; free for those under 18.
Hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 8:30 to dusk.
A little further south, near the Fiumicino airport, you will find the oasis of Macchiagrande (5), managed by the WWF. In about 3 hours you can visit the 280 hectares of sand dunes and Mediterranean vegetation, following paths and staging points for observation; during the visit it is easy to meet waterfowl, raptors, foxes and tortoises...remember to bring your binoculars!
Hours: Sundays from 10.00.
Closed in August.