Lake Bracciano travel guide: a day-trip from Rome to ancient towns immersed in a natural reserve
“Even if Lake Bracciano isn’t as popular as other lakes in Italy, you should spend some time exploring what the region has to offer in terms of nature, history, and recreation. The Lake Bracciano and Lake Martignano Natural Reserve” needs to be on your Italy bucket list. The city of Bracciano, together with the other towns that overlook Lake Bracciano, is one of the locals’ preferred day-trips from Rome. The fact that the place is still off the main tourist tracks indeed adds to its charm. It’s going to be difficult to visit Lake Bracciano and return disappointed. The points of interest are so numerous that you could easily spend one week traveling the area. You’ll find Lake Bracciano 30 km north of Rome, in the direction of Viterbo. Read this guide to know all the amazing activities you can do in the area of Bracciano town.
CURIOSITIES ABOUT LAKE BRACCIANO
Far far away in time, Lake Bracciano and its neighbor Lake Martignano were volcanic craters belonging to the Sabatino volcanic complex. Later, they filled up with water and became lakes. Remains from the Neolithic Age where discovered underwater near La Marmotta Beach in the town of Anguillara Sabazia, including a 9 mt boat, visible at the “Museo Neolitico”. The water from the lake is drained and channeled through the Roman aqueducts to provide water for the majority of Rome’s city districts and 40 towns outside of Rome. Pretty impressive, right?… Motor boats are forbidden on the lake, exception made for the official boat that brings people from town to town during the summer.
Lake Bracciano’ precious water
HOW TO GET TO LAKE BRACCIANO
By car from Rome
It’s only a 40 min drive, but the road isn’t as good as you would like it. Drive from Rome to Bracciano only if you feel confident enough driving on a road of Central Italy. And always go slow…
By train from Rome
The easiest way to get to the Lake Bracciano from Rome is by train. Trains depart from Roma Ostiense or Valle Aurelia stations, and stop at Bracciano. Check the Trenitalia website to know the time and book you ticket online. You might notice that the timetables are off in most of the secondary stations in Rome, or at least, they are confusionary. I feel you! That’s why I recommend to verify the time on the website. Once you are inside the stations I mentioned, follow the signs to the platforms directed to Bracciano or Viterbo.
How to get from Bracciano train station to the beach of Lake Bracciano
From Bracciano train station, walk on towards Bracciano Castle and then access the promenade (it’s on the map) that takes you down to the lake in the proximity of Il Luccio d’Oro restaurant. From there you can walk left or right and find your favorite spot on the beach. There are bars and restaurants that rent out beach umbrellas and tanning beds (Ristorante da Tonino, Movida Beach) while other parts of the beach are “free”. If you walk roughly a couple of Km on the “Via Circumlacuale” in the direction of Anguillara Sabazia, you’ll reach the “Area Picninc Santo Celso” and you’ll find a wild stretch of sand and a pinewood far from commercial hubs.
Bracciano town with Bracciano Castle
THINGS TO DO IN THE LAKE BRACCIANO REGION
Visit the Bracciano Castle
Bracciano Castle is the attraction that stands out in the region. Built during the second half of the 15th century on a cliff that dominates the western shore of the lake, it was at the center of sour conflicts among aristocratic families from Rome for centuries. Thanks to the families that committed to its mantainance and constant improvement, the Bracciano Castle is now a museum (but also available for private events if you can afford it lol, as tom Cruise did on the occasion of his wedding with Katie Holmes. Explore the Bracciano Castle on a week-day… you might be one of the few visitors! The castle is totally worth the €8,50 entrance ticket. The rooms are decorated with ancient furniture and collections, and the high ceilings are revived with frescoes of the late Renaissance period. One of Michelangelo’s disciples worked as an artist in the castle. From the windows and the gardens, you’ll see Lake Bracciano in all it’s peace and magnificence. An independent visit takes about 1.5 hour.
Self-guided walk in Bracciano
Once you’re done exploring the Bracciano Castle, walk along the perimeter of the castle, in the “Via Collegiata” street and into the alleys of Bracciano old town along. Fall in love with the calmness lingering over the tiny “Piazza Saminiati” square. Small restaurants and wineries have their cellars inside the castle’s walls, like the “Caffetteria Levante”. Walk towards the church of “Santo Stefano Protomartire” and the “Museo del Duomo” (opened during the weekends. And then, the two viewpoints (in the map). Walk along the “Via Arazzaria” and the “Via Principe di Napoli” (the main commercial street of Bracciano), and sit at a cafe near the “Piazza IV Novembre” (the square with the Municipality Palace).
Entrance gate to the Bracciano castle
Bedroom of a noble woman in the Bracciano Castle
Fresco on the ceiling inside the Bracciano castle
Swimming in Lake Bracciano
Lake Bracciano is the perfect place for swimming. If you don’t get picky about the dark color of the sand (by now you should know that the lake was a volano back in the days), you will swim in one of the cleanest lakes in the world. You can find simple beach resorts with tanning beds and beach umbrellas in all the three main towns on the lake (Bracciano, Anguillara Sabazia, and Trevignano Romano), but there are also many places where the beaches are more wild and have zero facilities. My favorite beach is the one of Trevignano Romano, because the sunsets last longer from there. You could even travel to the Lake Martignano which is not too far and completely surrounded by nature.
Take a windsurf, kayak, or sailing boat on Lake Bracciano
The lake is perfect to start your windsurf or sailing practice, and for a relaxing kayaking tour. These are two centers where you can rent what you need and do classes:
Windsurf in Bracciano: A.s.d. Centro Surf Bracciano – address: Via Lungolago G. Argenti 4
Sailing in Bracciano: Associazione Velica – address: Via Circumlacuale, 21; Sailing Team Bracciano – address: Via della Sposetta Vecchia
WHERE TO EAT IN BRACCIANO
Trattoria Da Regina
This is more than a typical trattoria in the Rome trattoria style. In here you’ll feel as if you’re a guest in the cook’s house! The friendly environment and the lowest prices for a restaurant in the area will make you feel even more at ease… All the dishes are nice, I’d always go for the meal of the day. I recommend the Lasagna, the Parmigiana, and all the meat courses. You can have the fish from Lake Bracciano cooked in different ways. They have a good choice of vegetable dishes, and for the dessert, you should try the Tiramisu, probably one of the best you’ll ever have in your entire life. This is one of the local’s favorite restaurants: to be sure you grab a table, be there exactly at 7 or 9 in the evening. Address: Via S.Antonio, 1.
Restaurant La Fontanella
You can have all kinds of dishes here: pizza, pasta, veggies, meat… There are two inner rooms and an outside garden, which is delightful during the hot summer evenings. The “Antipasto Misto” is the number one in town, and the pasta portions will satisfy even the hungriest person.
Antipasto Misto at Restaurant La Fontanella in Bracciano town
Caffetteria – aperitiveria Levante
A cute place built in the external walls of Bracciano Castle. Have your coffee or tea, a beer, and a glass of wine during the aperitivo ritual (a drink served with a taste of local products like cheeses, cuts, and veggies). During the weekends, they serve lunch too. Address: Via della Collegiata, 3
Ristorante pizzeria Pizzando
As you can guess from the name, this restaurant specializes in pizza (and calzoni). Pizza is the best, but they also make a lot of different fine dishes. Address: Via Camillo Benso Conte di Cavour, 36
Pub – winery-restaurant Donegan’s
Born as a beer place, a “pub”, now it is also a winery and a restaurant. The cherry on the cake: during weekdays, there is a very convenient but yummy buffet lunch you can’t miss! You’ll be full and happy from the food and the service. Address: Via Claudia, 2A
Restaurant Il Luccio d’Oro
A restaurant with a beach. They serve classic Italian dishes and pizza, but the local specialty you should try is the “Tagliolini di lago”, a home-made kind of noodles with fresh tomatoes and fish from the Lake Bracciano. Address: Via G. Argenti, 12
If you want to explore further the Lake Bracciano region, read about the town of Anguillara Sabazia and Trevignano Romano, the two other cities on the lake. Let me know in the comments all the thoughts you have about this Lake Bracciano travel guide!