Just go 40 kilometers out of Rome to get out of the chaos of the capital and you find yourself suddenly immersed in the countryside between nature and character laden villages.
There are many beautiful places. Bracciano is a pretty town halfway between Rome and Viterbo. It is surrounded by history and nature, famous for its lake of the same name and for the “Orsini-Odescalchi” Castle. This was the location of some famous weddings, such as Tom Cruise with Katie Holmes and Eros Ramazzotti with Michelle Hunziger.
The village stands on a hill overlooking the volcanic lake and its origins are lost in the mist of time.
The main things to do in Bracciano include:
- Walk along the shore of Lake Bracciano or even better get out on the water sailing
- Take a tour or visit the museum at Castello Orsini-Odescalchi
- if you’re an aviation buff visit the Italian Airforce Museum that has a large collection of planes and a nice art collection if planes aren’t your thing
- Enjoy the history, ambiance, coffee and food taking a stroll around the town
Certainly while visiting Bracciano you cannot miss a visit inside the historic castle. In fact every day or almost, it is possible to book a guided tour of the castle, all of the internal rooms of the historic castle view the history and curiosities and more hidden about it.
History of Bracciano
Bracciano has been inhabited since Etruscan times but the first urban settlement dates back to the 10th century. In the 11th century it became the property of the prefects of Vico. They transformed the tower, built to defend themselves from the Saracen attacks, into a fortress on top of the hill.
In the fifteenth century it passed to the Orsini family. They were one of the most powerful families of the time, and Bracciano became a thriving town. Napoleone Orsini and Virgilio Orsini had the Vico fortress transformed into the splendid pentagonal castle that still dominates the area.
In the second half of the seventeenth century the Orsini fell out of favor. In 1686 they sold Bracciano to the Odescalchi family to whom the castle still belongs.
The historic center winds under the Castle of Bracciano. It’s an interweaving of medieval streets full of churches. This includes the Cathedral of “Santo Stefano” and ancient buildings including the “Palazzo Comunale.”
If you’d like to admire a breathtaking view of Lake Bracciano and the surrounding area, just go to the “Belvedere della Sentinella“. This was once a defensive bastion, and you can look out from the terrace.
For those who want to go around the lake of Bracciano then there is a boat that from April to September leads to admire the three municipalities that overlook the water basin (Bracciano, Anguillara and Trevignano).
There is ample space for those who are passionate about history and planes, in fact there is the “Air Force Museum of Vigna di Valle”, which with its 13,000 square meters is one of the largest aviation museums in the world.
Do not miss events such as the re-enactment of the Passion of Christ that winds throughout the country, and the Infiorata that takes place on Corpus Christi Sunday.
Bracciano is also surprising for its culinary offerings the specialties its lake fish, Maremmana cattle, pigs, game, porcini mushrooms and truffles, you are spoiled for choice. Just sit in one of its taverns to savour the flavours of this part of Lazio that is little known to mass tourism.
What do you like best about Bracciano?
Certainly it’s the lake. It is a great attraction for locals and tourists alike. It is very nice to be able to see it every day. But what I like most is that you find small paradises both inside and outside Bracciano, leaving a considerable space for nature. There is also another lake just outside Bracciano, this one a little smaller but equally beautiful: the “Martignano Lake “.
Throughout the area there are many land holdings and estates with horses. There are paths that lead from one lake to another in the midst of woods and the unspoiled nature of the region.
It is possible to rent a horse and let themselves be taken for long gallops in the countryside to discover breathtaking landscapes.
Best Walk in Bracciano
In the evening, especially on weekends, the historic center is full of many people. They walk undisturbed along the historic streets, among many restaurants and bars. They walk through the crowded streets that lead to a place called “Belvedere”. There is a terrace with a great view of the countryside. The area is often popular with young couples who promise their love to each other.
Best Restaurants in Bracciano
There are many places where you can taste typical local dishes. Many of these places are farmhouses. Or they are outdoor terraces in large scale to host and organize real banquets and receptions of all kinds. “La Baita” for example, is a farm located in the Bracciano countryside. It is a few kilometers from the shores of the lake and the beaches of the Tyrrhenian coast or “Monte La Puglia” which offers dishes cooked according to ancient traditions.
Best Places to Stay in Bracciano
Bracciano is a fairly small town and there is not a large selection of hotels. Most are smaller B&B’s. Click onto the links for a better description and customer reviews on TripAdvisor.
- Alfredo Hotel is well-known for its family-friendly environment and proximity to great restaurants and attractions, Alfredo Hotel makes it easy to enjoy the best of Bracciano.
- Agriturismo L.B. Stud di Riccioni G. is a few km outside of Bracciano and a great place for rest and relaxation.
- La Rosa del Lago offers free bikes, a garden and a barbecue. The accommodation is in Bracciano, and guests benefit from complimentary WiFi and private parking available on site.
- Hotel Ristorante Villa Maria has a restaurant, bar, a shared lounge and garden in Bracciano. There is a terrace and guests can make use of free WiFi and free private parking.
For some years now in the first 3 days of August the “EURO MUSIC CONTEST” has been celebrated. The Festival intends to promote the best independent Italian and international realities, and to offer groups that offer their original music a stage and an audience to the height of the best European festivals with musical groups also coming from abroad.
Certainly very popular now for several years is the “Crazybullcafe” which in the evening has a large crowd. They offer their customers a varied menu consisting of American and Tex-Mex dishes. It is based on meat and more meat, and Crazy Bull World, which in all respects follows the style of Stars and Stripes, retracing the furnishings of the premises that have been taken from the American Graffiti film, characterized by an exceptional soundtrack and the atmosphere of trust and freedom typical of the 1960s .
Best day trip out of Bracciano
Just outside Bracciano, a trip to 2 other places that tell the story at the center of an always enchanting nature is very interesting;
Ceri, medieval city and Etruscan and Anguillara necropolis, another medieval city with the Air Force Historical Museum
Something that not many travellers would know about Bracciano
The Trajan Aqueduct: an incredible and very recent discovery of an ancient aqueduct. Built in 109 AD by the emperor Trajan it connects the lake and the city.
A little less than an hour from Civitavecchia and 50 km from Rome, there is a city lost in time. It is worthy of the most terrifying legends and ghost stories. It is “Monterano Antica”, located north of Lake Bracciano and two steps from Canale di Monterano.
Interesting facts about Bracciano
- Bracciano has rail links from Rome from 2 stations Ostiense and Valle Aurelia. It takes approximately 55 minutes by arrive in Bracciano by train.
- The town is about 30 km north west of Rome.
- Lake Bracciano is a caldera and was formed by a magma chamber collapsing over 40,000 years ago. The lake is a reservoir for Rome so consequently motor boats are banned from the lake.
- Lake Bracciano is the 8th largest lake in Italy and is a caldera.
- The patron saint of Bracciano is Saint Sebastian.
- The population of Bracciano is estimated at 18,400 in 2022.
- The main industries in Bracciano are tourism and agriculture.