Paolo's Private Driving Tours

Family business since 1949.

I'll show you more than you expect to see!

 

 

Tours in the countryside

There's a lot more countryside to see in Italy than just Tuscany.

If you are in Rome and want to spend a nice day touring out of the city, see some interesting sites, have some good food and try some good wines, you don't need to go all the way to Tuscany! Going to Tuscany from Rome means driving on the motorway for three hours each way and spending more time driving on the motorway than enjoying the sites.

Drive only one hour from Rome and see some incredible sites: enchanting hilltop towns, rolling hills, lakes, mountains, castles, abbeys, museums, wineries, olive oil presses, good restaurants and anything else you may desire.

Talking about the sites, the first ones to be mentioned are the gardens of the Villa D'Este in Tivoli, the excavations of the Roman port of Ostia Antica, the area of the Roman Castles. Each one of these places deserves a visit for they are world famous but also, wanting to experience something different, something that the majority of the tourists haven't discovered yet, I can take you to some incredible places to see some incredible sites and let you have some incredible culinary experiences and taste some award winning wines.

If you decide to let me guide you through the countryside in the surroundings of Rome, I promise to show you a great time, my very favored tour is the one in the region called Ciociaria that covers the Abbey of Trisulti, the medieval town of  Fumone and the city of Anagni, nut that's way off the beaten path, for connoisseurs. Next to that is the tour to Tivoli and Subiaco. This tour takes you to the Villa D'Este, a must-see place, but also to the less famous monastery of St. Benedict in Subiaco. The monastery, perched on a cliff, consists in a maze of beautifully frescoed chapels perched on a mountain cliff. If you already visited Tivoli but not Subiaco and you want to visit this latter and spend the whole day out in the country, instead of Tivoli I can take you to the fantastic town of Palestrina. World War II aerial bombings revealed the the whole town was built on top of the ruins of a Roman temple. Imagine, the temple was so big that a whole town was built on it! Today you can see the ruins of the temple and visit the palace that was built on the very top of it for pope Urban VIII Barberini by the famous architect Bernini and which is today a museums housing findings of the excavations of the temple.

 
View of Gavignano.

Half day tours to the small towns in the country just outside Rome.
Visit, Tivoli, Ostia or the Roman Castles.

Tivoli

The easiest way to get to Tivoli from Rome is the A24 motorway.

If it wasn't for the congested traffic in the morning, you'd be there in 25 minutes, but it usually takes 45. Once in Tivoli, we park the car near the town's castle (13th century), and stroll through the quaint streets of the old town to finally arrive to the entrance to the Villa D'Este. As every one else, you also will be impressed by the  cascades, water tanks, troughs and pools, water jets and fountains you'll se in its gardens. If you are the type who enjoys walking we can extend our stroll to the ruins of the temples of the Sybil and Vesta which are located on the opposite site of Tivoli, with respect to the Villa D'Este, and see the natural water falls also.

If you don't don't like to walk, or can't, we'll just drive there.

By the way, Villa D'Este requires a lot of walking, down hill first and up hill to get back out. If you are disabled though, do not fear, we'll take you through the Villa in a golf cart!

On the way back from Tivoli, if there will be time, we'll be able to stop and look at the marble quarries where, since the days of the Ancient Romans, the famous Roman Travertine marble is quarried. Yes this is the marble that the Colosseum and most of the other buildings of Ancient Rome where built with.

     

 

The Roman, lakes, hilltop towns, wine and ... the Pope!

This area isn't really far from the city, we'll reach it in about 30/40 minutes and it'll be a pleasant change from the chaotic metropolis.

We'll drive up the hills on a road the unravels through thick woods and finally we'll reach Nemi. This lovely little town is really peaceful during the week and gets a little busy during the week-ends. Why? because of its food and wine! Present day Romans in fact, enjoy driving out to the area of the Roman Castles to have a nice lunch and maybe even a swim in the warm water of one of the lakes.

The hills have been supplying the city of Rome with pleasant white wines for hundreds of years. The wine produced here is mainly white, but they have some good reds also. Plus, the area is noted for the food, cheese, salami, prosciutto, game, pasta, bread, sweets ... you name it!

In particular, Nemi is known for a small, but very tasty, strawberry.

After spending some time strolling through Nemi, enjoying its quaint atmosphere and the view of the lake from the city, we'll drive to Castelgandolfo. On our way there, we'll stop to enjoy gorgeous panoramas, Roman ruins, and more. If you like, we can stop at a winery also, or you can sample different wines in specialized shops in Castelgandolfo when we get there.

Castelgandolfo, is just like Nemi, but a little bigger and, instead of the strawberries, they have the Pope! This  town has been chosen in the 17th century to become the seat for the Papal Summer Residence. The beauty of the place, the lake, the good food and wine and the much cooler climate made of Castelgandolfo the summer residence not only of the popes, but also many noble families, also in the days of the Roman Empire.

If you like, you can extend your time and stay for lunch, or dinner, either in Nemi or Castelgandolfo and try the famous food and wines.

Nemi
 
Castelgandolfo, view of the lake

 

Ostia Antica

Would you like to wander around the ruins of a Roman city that was abandoned 15 centuries ago? You don't need to go far from Rome to do that.

Ostia was the port of Rome, the access o the open sea, the gate through which all the supplies the Empire's capital needed went through.

In the days of Ancient Rome it was a pretty busy place, a city of about 30,000 inhabitants. People of all kinds and nationalities bought and sold goods, transported them, built a city that was a sort of a smaller version of the city of Rome. Today you can see the theatre where they spent their time watching shows that must have been quite interesting, they were even able to flood the place! You can see the bakeries where they bought their bread, the "fast food" restaurants where they ate when they didn't have the time to go home to eat. The public and the private baths where they took care of their personal hygiene and even their public toilets!

Obviously, Ostia makes one think of Pompeii, similar size town on the coast, ruins, Romans ... there's everything. There are a few differences tough. Pompeii was covered up by ashes and pumice stone which protected it from erosion of time and vandals, while instead Ostia was always exposed to both. So Pompeii is better preserved than Ostia, but this latter is more peaceful and pleasant to visit for it's not nearly as well known as Pompeii and therefore not as crowded.

So you may want to Visit Ostia if you've already visited Pompeii, or because you don't have the time to go to Pompeii, but still want to see Roman ruins.

Ostia Antica, the Roman theatre
 
The ruins of Ostia Antica

 

 
 
 
 

Full day tours to the small towns in the country just outside Rome.
Visit, Tivoli, Ostia, the Roman Castles, Subiaco, Ciociaria and more...

Tivoli and the Roman castles

This excursion takes you to the Villa D脱ste in Tivoli, north east from Rome, and to the Alban Hills, south east of the Eternal City.

The medieval city of Tivoli was home to the Cardinal Ippolito II D脱ste who built for himself a sumptuous residence entirely decorated with fine renaissance frescoes inside and enriched by an incredible garden decorated with impressive statues, cascades, water tanks, troughs and pools, water jets and fountains.

After visiting the Villa and wandering through the medieval section of Tivoli, via a beautiful scenic route, we値l transfer to the Alban Hills. The scenery around will change a lot: from mountains to hills and from olive trees to grapevines.

The Alban Hills are very fertile and, since the days of the Romans, this is where the wine comes from. The quality of the food and the wines still attracts present Romans who like to spend their week-ends here eating good food, drinking good wine and swimming in the lakes.

We値l look around the towns of Nemi and Castelgandolfo, each overlooking a different volcanic lake and offering gorgeous panoramas. While Castelgandolfo is famous for having home to the Popes in the summer for nearly four hundred years, Nemi is famous for tiny, but very tasty, strawberries and for the wrecks of Roman ships found at the bottom of its lake which go back to the days of the Emperor Caligula. You may want to try the strawberries with some "gelato" and/or sample some wines in the specialized shops in Castelgandolfo.

Tivoli, Villa D'Este.
 

 

Roman castles and Ostia Antica

We'll drive to Ostia first and stroll through the ruins of the ancient port city which supplied Rome with all its needs. A set of ruins as large and interesting as Pompeii, but no as well preserved because exposed to the elements and the vandals for centuries while Pompeii was concealed by volcanic ashes and pumice stone. You値l see the ruins of homes, theatre, bakeries, restaurants, public and private baths and even shopping malls and public toilets! You値l learn a lot about the Ancient Romans and you値l be surprised of how their life was similar to ours.
After touring Ostia, we can stop for lunch. Either in Ostia, if you like sea-food, or up on the hills if you prefer meet. Or we could have some salami, bread and cheese by the lake of Castelgandolfo.
The Appian Way will take us to the Alban Hills and we値l stop at the charming town of Castelgandolfo, beautiful place right on top of a volcanic lake with a lovely view, where the Pope has his summer residence since the 17th century.
This area is famous for the production of wine and you may want to sample some, either in one of the specialized shops in Castelgandolfo or, if you prefer, we can take you to a winery.
From Castelgandolfo the road, which unravels over the hills and through the woods, will take us to Nemi another lovely small town overlooking another volcanic lake and which is famous for a particular type of strawberry they produce there: tiny, but very tasty. You might want to try them with some "gelato"!
If you wish, we can also arrange for you to visit to one of the local wineries !

 

 

 

Tivoli and Ostia Antica

Let me take you to the Villa D脱ste in Tivoli, north east from Rome, and to the ancient port of the Eternal City, Ostia Antica, west of the city.

We'll stroll through the quaint streets of the medieval city of Tivoli on our way to the Villa D'Este, home to the Cardinal Ippolito II D脱ste. A sumptuous residence entirely decorated with beautiful renaissance frescoes inside and enriched by an incredible garden decorated with impressive statues, cascades, water tanks, troughs and pools, water jets and fountains.

We'll tour the Villa and the get back in the car to drive our steps.

Lunch stop can be in Tivoli, if you prefer to eat meat or in Ostia if you like fish better.

Once in Ostia we'll stroll through the ruins of the ancient port city which supplied Rome with all its needs. A set of ruins as large and interesting as Pompeii, but not as well preserved because exposed to the elements and the vandals for centuries while Pompeii was concealed by volcanic ashes and pumice stone. You値l see the ruins of homes, theatre, bakeries, restaurants, public and private baths and even shopping malls and public toilets!

 

Ciociaria, Trisulti, Fumone, Anagni

Tour an area near Rome that's not yet be contaminated by mass tourism, but yet as beautiful as Tuscany or other famous parts of Italy like Lake Como.

The area owes its name to the peculiar type of shoes its inhabitants used to wear which they called "Cioce". The region produces good wines and foods, especially the "pecorino" cheese made from sheep milk.

This is one of my favored excursions in the surroundings of Rome. If you go on this tour with me, we will tour around Anagni, a beautiful medieval town famous for having been Papal Seat in the 13th century and for its Cathedral.

If you like art, I'll take you to visit the workshop of the famous sculptor Tommaso Gismondi and that of the marquetry artist Carlo Turri, who only works with natural wood. The Abbey of Trisulti, located in the "Ernici" mountains, isolated from the rest of the world, where the few monks left live like they did in the Middle Ages. We'll see the famous "Cyclopean Walls" of Alatri, built thousands of years ago using enormous stone boulders only giants could lift, hence the name: the legend says they were built buy the Cyclopes, the one-eyed giants.

We'll have a great lunch in the castle town of Fumone, in a medieval tavern where you'll be impressed by the quality and the quantity of the food and wine they'll serve you for only 20 Euros per person.

If you like, and if there's time, we can also visit the Castle of Fumone where Pope Celestin V was imprisoned and killed..

We'll stop to visit an award winning winery where you'll be able to sample reds, whites and dessert wines you'll never forget.

 

Carlo Turri, "Natura Morta"

 

 

Tivoli and Subiaco

We'll drive to Subiaco to visit one of Italy's most impressive ancient monasteries, the "Sacro Speco". Founded by St. Benedict of Norcia, we will reach the place in about one hour. Subiaco is famous for being the location of two important monasteries: St. Benedict's, and St. Scolastica, but also for having been the birth place of two of Italy's most famous women: Lucrezia Borgia and Gina Lollobrigida!

It's the "Sacro Speco" though the real attraction in Subiaco. This incredible monastery built and decorated between the 12th and 13th century is really unbelievable. Built over the cave where St. Benedict lived and preached, it consists in a labyrinth of chapels all beautifully fresco decorated. In one of the chapels there's also a portrait of St. Francis which was made when he was still alive and before he received his stigmata. It's the only picture of Saint Francis without the stigmata and the halo! There's a great place in Subiaco where I can take you for lunch before we get back on the road to drive to Tivoli, a little family run restaurant housed in the cellars of the Rocca (castle) of the Borgias where the famous Lucrezia was born.

Once in Tivoli we'll stroll through the streets of the medieval town to get to the Villa D'Este and visit the place. Built in the 16th Century for the Cardinal Ippolito D'Este (son of the famous Lucrezia Borgia) when he became the governor of Tivoli, the beautiful villa is world known for its astounding garden decorated by hundreds of artistic water fountains.

Time permitting, on the way back to Rome, we will stop to look at the marble quarries at the foot of the hill on the way to Tivoli.

   

 

 

Subiaco and Palestrina

We'll drive to Subiaco first and visit the amazing monastery of St. Benedict, the Sacro Speco. This  consists of a labyrinth of little chapels, completely decorated with beautiful medieval frescoes, perched on the side of a cliff, over the natural cave where, in the 5th century, lived and preached.

The grotto became the cradle of the Benedictine Order and the monastery was one of twelve that the Saint founded in the area.

From Subiaco, we'll drive to to the sanctuary of the Mentorella. I'm sure very few foreigners would have heard about it, since not even the locals are familiar with it, but it's a spectacular place!

Concealed within the mountains, perched on the spur, you don't see it until you get to it. Nearby is the pretty mountain top village of Guadagnolo (4,000 ft.  m.a.s.l.) where we could stop for lunch at one of the two "trattoria" there.

After lunch we drive to the town of Palestrina. The medieval town was bombarded from the air during World War II and most of it was raised to the ground thus revealing that the whole city had been built on top of was probably the largest Roman temple ever!

The terraced temple was built on the mountain side and the Romans themselves built on top of ruins of Cyclopean walls. The very top of the temple was used by the famous architect Bernini in the construction of the country residence of the Barberini family for Pope Urban VIII and today houses the city museum, which can be visited, containing Roman findings from the excavations of the temple.

   
 

 

 

Catacombs, Old Appian Way and Roman Castles

A great tour, some of Rome and its countryside in six hours plus, the opportunity of having a great genuine lunch and sample some exquisite wines.

Ideal tour for those who want to see a little of the country outside Rome and see the catacombs, which are not quite distant from the city center and therefore not reachable on foot from the city center.

We'll drive by the Colosseum, Palatine Hill, Circus Maximus, before drive on the Old Appian Way and arrive to the Roman Walls.

The wall belt was built around the city in the 3rd century under the Emperor Aurelian and they are still well preserved.

We'll stop to take a look at the Appian Gate and continue to the Catacombs.

After the touring Catacombs, we continue on the Old Appian Way to stop just a mile further at the Tomb of Cecilia Metella to look at the ruins of the medieval fortress that was built in the 13th century from the ruins of the tomb and the remains of the original Roman cobble-stone paving of the Appian Way.

We'll then drive on the New Appian Way to reach the Alban Hills and tour Castelgandolfo and Nemi and enjoy the view of the respective lakes.

The Alban Hills are very fertile and, since the days of the Romans, this is where the wine comes from. The quality of the food and the wines still attracts present Romans who like to spend their week-ends here eating good food, drinking good wine and swimming in the lakes. I'm sure you'll want to have lunch here too!

   

 

   
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