Leaving Rome behind to discover hidden gems

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Leaving Rome behind to discover hidden gems

By Heather Walker

ROME — Rome has so much to explore, and the Italian countryside is no different. Over the years, The Lay Centre community has often travelled out of Rome to discover what lies beyond the Caelian Hill and the Aurelian Walls.

One area we are particularly fond of is the “Castelli Romani,” about 20 kilometres south of Rome. In addition to historic towns, such as Castel Gandolfo, home to the papal summer residence and the Vatican Observatory, the area is famous for its volcanic origins, lakes, rolling hills, farms, lush vegetation and abundant restaurants.

There are also some beautiful places to stay. The Villa Palazzola, known simply as Palazzola, perched on the hills surrounding Lake Albano, is one. The Lay Centre community has spent Christmas there, retreating from the bustle of the city. Palazzola, with its 13th century church and quiet spaces, has also been a perfect place for our community weekend retreats. In spring and summer, the villa really comes into its own. The sprawling gardens, cool breezes and an in-ground pool are a welcome haven at the height of summer.

Palazzola, owned by the Venerable English College, a seminary in Rome run by the Catholic Church in England and Wales, recently re-opened after the Italian government’s COVID-19 restrictions.

With gems like Palazzola now operating, it’s all the more reason to start venturing out of Rome again.


Photo courtesy Lay Centre scholars. Main photo of Lake Albano taken from the gardens of Palazzola Christmas 2020 during a Lay Centre community visit - Lay Centre community enjoying December sunshine at Palazzola.

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