Where should I go to live an authentic Italian experience?
Away from international tourism is Nettuno (my home town), a beautiful undiscovered small town located a few miles south of Rome. It is thought that the town was originally named after the Roman god of Neptune, reflecting on the stunning harbours and boats you will likely see when you’re there.
If you enjoy fishing or sailing or even just letting yourself get lost within the town squares and cobbled streets in the medieval centre, then Nettuno is the place to go. The town is buried in ancient history, from well-preserved castles and fortresses to its subtle connections with its twinned towns around Europe.
Nettuno’s UK twin town is Ipswich; an homage to which you can see at the shrine of Saint Maria Goretti with the Our Lady of Grace statue.
We know through fact and fiction that Italy is a romantic place to be. Nettuno is placed along the western coastline, so you can enjoy walks along the pier or watch sunsets from the shore, whilst tucking into a scrumptious meal and glass of wine.
How should I get there?
From Leonardo da Vinci international airport in Rome, there are multiple ways you can make your way to Nettuno. The first being a cheap car hire from one of the airports. Here, you can arrive in Nettuno at your own pace, discovering stunning views, and local diners along the way.
This would be the fastest way to reach at your destination, arriving in just under an hour, which will give you plenty of time to enjoy your stay without it being taken up by the travelling.
If you’re not one for driving, there are options for affordable buses and trains. The easiest way would be to get the Leonardo Express from Fiumicino airport (from 8 Euros) and go to Roma Termini the main roman railway station. Here you will get a regional train to Nettuno which runs every hour and costs only 3.60 euros one way.
On the cheaper side you could also take 3 buses to get you to Nettuno with a trip under 3 hours for just £9. Here, you will possibly stop at Rome Magliana and Laurentina before embarking an hour journey to your final destination.
Day trips from Nettuno to Rome are easy to plan as transportation between both places runs on a regular basis. If you want to take to a day trip to the capital city, then an UberBlack (a little on the pricey end) or a train can get you there and back within a day.
You can visit the likes of the Colosseum, the famous Trevi fountain and St Peter’s Basilica which has just recently opened to tourists.
What can I see or do in Nettuno and surroundings?
If you’re particularly interested in the history of the town, Torre Astura is the place to be. Placed along the western coastline, this fortress remains as one of the most well-preserved landmarks in the world.
The tower was initially built by the Counts of Tusculum in the 12th century before being taken over by the Frangipane family. Later on, a bridge was added to connect the tower to land. This bridge can still be walked on today, and you can enjoy the magnificent views that this area has to offer.
Fun fact: As you walk along the bridge and towards the tower, you will notice an abundance of roman ruins under the water. These ruins come from an Imperial Roman Villa which existed nearby.
Tip: Torre Astura only opens to the public every day in summer as it is a military territory; hence it is always best to check before organising your trip.
What to see in the town Centre
Fontana del dio Nettuno is a must see when visiting the town. Placed in the central medieval part of town (Piazza Mazzini), the fountain pays tribute to the name of the town. Here, you can sit and relax, enjoying every part of the progressing town around you, maybe indulging in a delicious Italian gelato.
Only a few minutes away is Forte Sangallo which goes back to the 1501 and boasts a cosy museum where you can learn more about the history of Nettuno.
The juicy bit
What would a visit to Italy be without the true experience of luxury wine tasting at a winery? At 10 minutes away by car is located Casale del Giglio, an award-winning winery which boasts hundreds of hectares of rows after row of grapevines and infinite gallons of wine. Casale del Giglio was founded in 1967 when the owner’s primary goal was to maximise land space and produce quality products simultaneously.
The vinery offers 22 products which includes red wine, white wine and extra virgin olive oil, and grappas – so there is something for everyone. There are guided tours where you can have a chance to visit the entire vineyard and of course experience some wine tasting. Moreover, Casale del Giglio also has a close association with local archaeologists.
Recent excavations have shown to find an exciting new ‘sacred way’ towards the temple of Mater Matuta dating to 540 B.C, as well as the discovery of a ceramic wine goblet. Casale del Giglio are still undergoing guided tours, and due to the current situation bookings must be taken 7 days in advance.
Day trips are always a way to fit more into your stay. Situated close by to Nettuno is the coastal city of Anzio, famous for its fishing ports and points for ferries. Anzio has something for everyone, whether it be discovering the historical caves of Nero or tasting new foods at beach cafés like Lido La Playa.
Furthermore, from Anzio you can make use of the ferries and visit the island of Ponza. Placed 40 miles or so off the western coast, arriving at Ponza is simple. A ferry service runs every 4 hours from Anzio for an affordable price (£16 – £22), meaning you can fit 2 trips in one day.
On the pricey side you can choose to speed up your journey by taking the hydrofoil for about 60 Euros return. The island is full of stunning beaches and cliffsides meaning there will always be something new to discover.
The nights in Nettuno come alive with the opening of the clubs and bars. The Old Fashioned Street club in the town centre offers an excellent variety of catchy English and Italian songs you can dance too.
They also have a football and pool table where you can play and make friends with the locals. El Pestado cantina de Cuba is filled with fluorescent lights, Latin music and excellent cocktails. What’s more, it’s also child-friendly, as they host activities 3 times a week. The current situation means that nightclubs and discos will remain closed for the time being.
However, there is hope that they will once again re-open in the near future, with the correct measures to ensure safety of visitors.
Where can I stay?
Nettuno has a variety of places to stay, ranging from hostels to privately owned villas. Astura Palace Hotel does not fail to impress. Located 10 minutes from the harbour, this 4-star hotel prides itself in providing its visitors with a sense of relaxation and rejuvenation.
The hotel has recently been renovated with an elegant hall and large spacious areas to give you a sense of luxury and tranquillity. The hotel location makes it easy to walk around and explore the beaches and wander around the medieval streets of Nettuno. Furthermore, Astura Palace Hotel offers all the amenities you need such as high speed wi-fi, 24h air-conditioning, quality room service and an onsite gym.
The staff are friendly and efficient, meaning you do not need to worry about booking your own transportation or getting lost in translation with the locals.
What can I eat?
A major reason to why Italy is a tourist hotspot is because of the food. So why not treat yourself to an experience of lavish dining. Satricvm gives you a taste of traditional Italian flavours under one roof. With locally sourced ingredients, the restaurant offers a variety of pasta dishes to instagrammable delicate desserts including the everyone’s favourite, the legendary tiramisu.
The Moj restaurant café also lies in the centre of town. It offers outdoor seating and is certainly the place to go for a more casual setting. The café is spacious and airy, with large arched doorways, exposing the original brick walls to emphasise its traditional roots and how it has adapted to the modern day.
Much like the setting, the food also offers both hearty meals and dishes that are of speciality to Northern Italian terrains. If you’re looking for a light brunch or a just a coffee Moj restaurant café can offer both.
What are the new safety measures?
Although tourism levels may not back to normal just yet, the Italian government is doing everything they can to maximise the safety of locals and visitors. Wearing masks is still compulsory in indoor areas and maintaining proper social distancing is still required.
Sanitising stations have been put in place in restaurants and shops, in addition to thermal scanners in offices and shopping centres to read temperatures. On the whole, there has been significant importance has been given to maintain safety, implying that visiting Italy is safe.
Check Covid-19 guidance directly on the Health Ministry’s site as this is going to change soon.
Do you want to live an authentic Italian experience?
Languages Alive takes away the entire organising burden from you by offering you a unique Live and Learn Italian Experience. You will learn Italian whilst cooking, wine tasting and touring around Nettuno and surroundings with a native qualified Italian tutor.
Here is what your experience looks like, however, we also offer private tailor made Italian experiences all over Italy.
Live and Learn Italian in Italy 5 nights – 6 days
- Return transfer from Rome’s airport (Ciampino or Fiumicino)
- Welcome drink (Prosecco)
- Accommodation for 5 nights at 4 stars Astura Gran Palace Hotel (shared double room for 2 people or twin room), bathroom en suite. Single room available.
- Continental Breakfast
- Internal transfers for scheduled activities listed in the program
- 12 hr Italian cooking lesson with Signature Chef Max Cotilli owner of the elegant Satricvm restaurant
- 12 hr Italian language immersion while cooking with native qualified, friendly Languages Alive Tutor
- Recipes and language handouts provided
- 3 Lunches, tasting your own Italian creations at Elegant Restaurant “SATRICVM” . A glass of wine included.
- 5 Dinners at a local restaurant. Set menu including a glass of house wine. Vegetarian option available
- Guided visit of the “CASAL DEL GIGLIO”winery with 7 labels wine and local food tasting
- Nettuno By night, guided walking tour around the amazing medieval centre and the harbour
- Half day guided excursion to Rome, by train. Free time in Rome
- Optional free visit to the American and English Cemeteries
- 24 hr assistance by your tutor/tour leader from Languages Alive