InterRail #9: Fun in Frascati and an Outing to Ostia
After two busy days seeing the sights in Rome (Day 1 and Day 2), we decided to leave the city and catch the train out to Ostia Antica to view the old ruins of what was once the seaport of ancient Rome. According to a number of sources this town is a rival to Pompeii in terms of archaeology and history so naturally we were looking forward to investigating the expansive site. However, in typical Dovaston Tours fashion we had chosen to visit on the day that everything was closed so rather grudgingly we turned around and made our way back to the station where we reviewed our plans (not before a few sneaky photos though!)
As we were so close to the sea we chose to travel on to Ostia Lido, just down the line. Apparently it is a popular destination for those in Rome wishing to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. On arrival, we began by walking to the beach (about 5 minutes) and, having looked out upon the Mediterranean and accomplished what we set out to do, we made our way back into the town (if you can call it that!) for a refreshment break. This allowed us time to look at the map and review our plans for the rest of the day.
Top Tip: The 24 hour ticket for Rome’s public transport also covers the cost out to Ostia Antica and Ostia Lido – perfect for those , like us, wishing to explore further.
Back at Termini we boarded the train for our afternoon outing, up into the hills to the source of the famous Italian wine ‘Frascati’. Once more it was a relief when the train left the city behind and headed out into the lush countryside. On our way out, it seems that the train followed the route of what can only be an old aqueduct which in ancient times, must have transported water from the Alban hills down to the city.
Half an hour after we left Rome, we arrived in the green, hillside haven of Frascati with extensive views back out over the plain below. From the terraces of the town, it was even possible to spot the urban sprawl of Rome in the distance. Once we had mastered the several flights of steps up into the town’s old centre, we found the normal mix of churches and piazzas with shops, restaurants, patisseries and of course (my favourite) the Gelaterias. The town itself was somewhat quiet but it was refreshing to breathe in the fresh air and not worry too much about the risk of pick-pockets, ticket touts or stampeding coach groups.
In the small centre was the impressive Cathedral of San Pietro Apostolo and not too far away the Villa Aldobrandini.
After a little research it seems that this hillside town was a popular place in the past and many notable people had either visited or made this town their home – these include German poet Goethe, George Sand, Princess Pauline Bonaparte, favourite sister of Napoleon I and Henry Benedict Stuart, the brother of Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie) who was Bishop of Frascati.
Fun fact: When the body of Charles Stuart was transferred to Saint Peter’s Basilica, his heart was left in Frascati cathedral: a small urn encloses the heart of Charles, placed beneath the floor below the funerary monument.
After an hour or so wandering around the town we had seen the sights, tried the local beer, had had what was becoming the daily ice-cream and so decided to call it a day, descended the steps to the station and awaited our train.
Next stop: Padua (coming soon)