Simon Calder's Holiday Helpdesk: Can we easily combine a visit to Rome with a few days on the beach?
Simon Calder’s career in travel started at Gatwick Airport, where he cleaned aircraft for Laker Airways and later worked as a security officer. He became The Independent’s Travel Correspondent in 1994, and is known as “the Man Who Pays His Way” because he does not accept free travel facilities. He writes across the Independent titles, as well as for the Evening Standard.
Wednesday 24 July 2013
Q We are hoping to go Rome in September for a long weekend. How easy would it be to extend the stay with a few days by the beach or in the countryside afterwards, to combine some culture with recharging the batteries?
A The Italian capital offers an excellent combination of civic intensity combined with seaside or countryside relaxation. Furthermore September is the ideal month (along with May) to mix metropolitan life with some escapism: the crowds are not too overwhelming at the Colosseum, Forum and Vatican, while the weather is still reliably warm.
For simplicity, choose the beach option - and make the coast your base for the entire stay. Lido di Ostia is Rome's own seaside resort, just 23 miles south-west of the city centre. Frequent (if old and rattly) electric trains shuttle back and forth between the capital's Porta San Paolo station and the beach, giving quick (30 minutes) and cheap access between the Holy See and the Mediterranean Sea.
In mid-September, Expedia.co.uk is offering a pretty good five-night deal from Gatwick on easyJet, staying at the four-star Barcelo Aran Blu for £328 per person (excluding breakfast).
Lido di Ostia is also very convenient for the strangely under-visited archaeological site of Ostia Antica, the ancient seaport for Rome which is now landlocked; the site's own railway station is just four minutes from Lido di Ostia Centro.
For countryside, choose Lake Bracciano - a volcanic crater 30 miles north-west of the capital, accessible by train from Rome Ostiense. It is a perfect antidote to the high-energy city. The towns of Trevignano (with its own modest beach), Anguillara and Bracciano are evenly spaced aroud its circumference. For ease of access - and the widest choice of places to stay - opt for Bracciano, which also has the most significant tourist attraction in the shape of Orsini castle; the view from the ruined fortress across the lake is spectacular.
Whether you choose beach or lakeside, make sure you fly to and from the right Rome airport - Fiumicino (also known as Leonardo da Vinci) rather than Ciampino. Fiumicino has frequent buses to Lido di Ostia (taking just 15 minutes), and also some direct services to and from Bracciano - see bit.ly/RomeAirBus for details of both.
Click HERE to email Simon.
You can also tweet him your questions @SimonCalder
The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations
- 1 PlayStation and Xbox hacked by Lizard Squad
- 2 Christmas comes early to Hong Kong, as millions of bank notes spill out onto busy street
- 3 The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public can visit police’s grisly crime museum
- 5 Vagina canoe artist defends herself over ‘obscenity’ charges
Travelling by train, boat and plane in 2015: what's in store from ferries to winter sports services
TripAdvisor reveals the top places to visit in 2015
Chic new hotels in 2015: From Britain's first football-themed property to a Facebook millionaire's debut desert resort
Yakutsk: Journey to the coldest city on earth
Top 10 travel destinations for 2015: From Haiti and Alaska to Namibia and Iceland
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever
Alex Salmond has 'broken his word to the Scottish people' says Scottish Lib Dem leader
£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...
£240 - £275 per day: Investigo: Support the global business through in-depth a...
Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Data Manager - MySQL, Shell Scripts, Java, VB Scrip...
£27000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - near S...