The past few years, thanks to the various instameets organized by IgersLatina, we’ve had the chance to visit fascinating places off the beaten path in the province of Latina in the Lazio region. Situated south of Rome it offers excellent beaches, mountains, magical garden, archaeological site and a plethora of charming towns, all an easy getaway from the hustle of the city.
7 Things to See and Do in the province of Latina
Garden of Ninfa
If you are looking for a secluded, picturesque garden set in fairy-tale like surroundings, the Garden of Ninfa is the place. Considered The World’s 10 Best Garden by The Telegraph, the garden is beautifully set in the ruins of what was once the town of Ninfa.
Situated at the foot of the Lepini mountains and only a few kilometers from the sea, its ideal position creates a unique microclimate that allows plants of all variety to thrive in this natural greenhouse. the delicate eco-system, the Garden of Ninfa is opened to the public only on selected weekends from April to November. To avoid disappointment, check for the opening days and times on the official website.
I’d first learnt about Antica Norba when I saw a stunning photo taken from the archaeological site posted on Instagram by Roberto of AmbassadorPontino.
Little know, it is a short drive from the Garden of Ninfa, and a visit to Antica Norba is a must if you are in the area. This archeological area that sits 500 meters above sea level in Monte Lepini, dominates the Pontina plains.
The ancient town of Norba can be traced back to as far as the 5th century BC where historical sources mention a settlement had been sent there “to be a fortress in the Pontine plains”. The tragic end to this town took place in 81 B.C. when its inhabitants chose to kill themselves and set the town on fire rather than falling into the enemy’s hands.
A gem on Riviera Pontina, the charming whitewashed town of Sperlonga has a surprise in every corner to offer visitors. Narrow alleys that come to a dead-end with a breathtaking view of the sea, colorful doorways and an enchanting piazza, it’s easy to fall in love with the town.
In addition, the draw of Sperlonga is also thanks to its “Blue Flag” status since 1998 thanks to its transparent, uncontaminated waters and rich fauna and flora.
As with many towns in Italy, there’s also a trace of history here as you’ll find the Villa of Tiberio, an imperial residence along the beach that included a Roman bath, living areas, service quarters and private moorings.
We can never get enough of beach towns and Terracina sure makes the cut. A town where history meets the sea, Terracina is renowned for its wide stretch of golden beach which has received the Blue Flag award. Not on the radar for many foreign visitors, it’s popular among Italians and has a lively atmosphere during the summer months.
But there is more than just the sea. The town itself dates to Roman times and you can even see a well-preserved stretch of the Appian Way. However, what stands out and that you can’t miss is dominating Temple of Jupiter Anxur that sits above the town.
The little town of Cori packs a punch. During our day trip here together with @igersLatina and supported by the local municipality and tourism office, we discovered ancient temples, stunning frescoes, impressive ancient polygonal walls, and excellent wines.
The town predates Rome with evidence of settlements since the Bronze and Iron ages, and one of the main attraction is the Temple of Hercules in Hellenestic Doric style that dates to 1st century BC.
While we have been to the countryside near Roccagorga a handful of times, we’ve never stepped foot in the town itself. Last month, thanks to the initiative by the local tourism office of Roccagorga and igersLatina, we were invited to explore Roccagorga, located south-west of Monti Lepini and about 100km from Rome.
Our first stop took us to Eremo di Sant’Erasmo, 5km from the town center and sitting 850 meters above sea level. Situated in this complex, which boosts a commanding view of the countryside, is the small church of the patron saint, Saint Erasmo, with its interior dating back to the 13th century. Inside, you can admire a fresco of the saint on the wall behind the altar.
The tranquil atmosphere immersed in a verdant and lush setting offers you opportunity to sit back, relax and recharge. There is a restaurant on site and while we didn’t eat there, we were told that they serve some delicious, and simple dishes.
For a more spiritual experience, two dates to note are the last Sunday of May where there is the pilgrimage on foot to the Eremo and June 2nd, when the town celebrates the Feast of S. Erasmo
After our visit to Eremo di San’t Eramso, we then made our way back to Piazza VI Gennaio, the main piazza in town. Here you’ll find two monumental buildings sitting on each side of the piazza, the Chiesa dei SS Leonardo ed Erasmo, the main church of the town, and on the other end, Palazzo Baronale.
Built in the 17th century, the imposing Chiesa dei SS Leonardo ed Erasmo is positioned on the highest part of town, with a yellow ochre-colored facade and a bell tower that is on its left.
Palazzo Baronale, right across from the church, was in the hands of many prominent families before it was purchased by the town hall in 1930. Today it is home to the Etnomuseo dei Monti Lepini, the town library, the hostel and private residences.
It was in the internal courtyard of Palazzo Baronale where we were served lunch which consisted of local dishes such as le Lacne con i fagioli (egg pasta with beans) and a soup of bread and beans. In addition, there was a whole array of cold cuts and cheese from the area, and desserts were made up of a variety of biscuits, made with water, wine or eggs.
In the afternoon, we paid a visit to the Etnomuseo dei Monti Lepini that showcases the history and traditions of the Monte Lepini community. Led by a lively and passionate guide, this small yet fascinating museum offers you a glimpse of the traditions in the area, many that are no longer in existence. For example, we saw a short movie on la croglia, a towel rolled up and placed on the head of women to aid them in carry a bucket of water and just about everything else.
Here’s a glimpse of our day out in Roccagorga on Instagram Story. Many thanks go out to all the organizers, especially Francesco Montefusco of IgersLatina for the invitation.
We huffed and we puffed but we eventually made our way to the peak of Monte Semprevisa at 1536m. One Sunday, together with some friends, we decided to tackle Monte Semprevisa and it sure felt like an accomplishment.
To get to the start of the trail, make your way to the town Carpineto Romano and since there are a few signs that lead you there, ask the local residents and they will be happy to point you in the right direction.
It’s a beautiful hike as there were hints of fall foliage but be aware that it is also demanding since it took us a good 3 hours to get to the peak. With an hour’s lunch break at the peak, we marched our way back down, which took us 4 hours, making it for an entire’s day hike.
As you can imagine, the view from the peak was spectacular, with Circeo in the background and we could even see the islands of Ponza and Palmarola.