At the end of our epic European Summer Road Trip, we traveled by ferry from Dubrovnik, Croatia to Bari, Italy and then from Rome Italy, to Barcelona, Spain. To get from Bari, on east coast “heel” of Italy’s boot, to Civitavecchia, just north of Rome on Italy’s west coast was a five hour drive. Since our ferry was scheduled to arrive in Bari around 8am and the Rome ferry (let’s just agree to call it “Rome” so I don’t have to keep writing out Civitavecchia, okay?) left at 11pm, we theoretically could have made it from one ferry to another in the same (long) day. However, I didn’t want to have to stress about missing our ferry or having to drive too far if we didn’t get a good night sleep on our first ferry. And if spending one night in Italy before catching our ferry also happened to give us more time for some Italian pizza, pasta and gelato, who was I to fight it?
Having been to Rome, Pompeii and Venice within the last few months, I knew we wanted to find something else, and maybe focus on a new area of Italy, preferably one not to far from the fastest route between the two cities.
So – our winning spot was….Sulmona, Italy!
Sulmona was located right off one of the best routes between the two cities, maybe adding about 30 minutes to our total driving time.
We arrived in Sulmona, a cute little town in the Abruzzo region, around lunchtime, and headed straight for, you guessed it, a pizzeria! After eating lunch, we went to our airbnb for the night, located right off the main pedestrian town of Sulmona. We spent a little bit of time walking around Sulmona, there was nothing too special there, just typical quaint cobblestoned Italian streets.
We, of course, also got ourselves some gelato and just ended up with a quick sandwich for dinner.
The next morning we got back on the road, heading towards Rome for our 11pm ferry departure. We had plenty of time, so I did a bit of searching for a good place to stop for lunch, and we came across a total winner!
This restaurant, Osteria Del Borgo, is located on the far outskirts of Rome, in a tiny little village and was rated in the top 2% of all Rome restaurants on TripAdvisor. We drove down the main street in the tiny town, parking in a town square where other cars seemed to be haphazardly parked, hoping it was okay to leave the car there. Then, we walked down the street to the restaurant. We were the first ones there for lunch and it looked pretty local and authentic. We all ordered pasta dishes. Being an authentically local place, the menu was in Italian and the waitress didn’t seem to speak much English, so we had to get by with C’s very limited Italian (no internet for google translate either). The food ended up being so amazing. It was all delicious homemade and hand cut pasta. All of our dishes were beyond fantastic, and this one goes down as one of the best meals we’ve ever had.
After lunch, we drove just a few more kilometers to the town of Anguillara Sabazia, on the banks of the volcanic lake of Lago di Bracciano. We parked in a small lot next to the lake, changed into swimsuits, blew up the floatie and headed to the banks of the lake.
As expected of this volcanic lake, the banks were made of dark volcanic stone and the lake was nearly perfectly circular (though it isn’t actually a crater lake, and instead was made when the magma chamber of a volcano 400,000 years ago collapsed.
After playing around in the lake for a few hours, we headed into the town (pictured behind the boys) for one final Italian gelato.
After gelato, it was time to get back in the car and drive our final hour to the Rome ferry port. And that ended of our exciting (and filling!) thirty-six hours in the heart of Italy. Watch for our next post on our ferry rides from Dubrovnik – Bari and Rome – Barcelona.