We had finished our late meal, and the restaurant was starting to empty. Alex sat down, took a piece of paper from his order sheets, and wrote down: Castel Gandolfo, Nemi, Ariccia, and D'Agnese.
Castel Gandolfo is the town where the Pontifical Palace, the summer residence of the Pope, is located on Lake Albano.
When we first arrived in the town, we quickly found a small parking lot, parked the car, and went to the edge of the road to view the lake. Today's post is a Spiritual Sunday; let's add some peaceful lakes today to expand this week's theme --water.
Take a few moments and sit yourself down mentally in one of those chairs in the photo on the right looking out on Lake Albano. I find the still calm waters of a lake very soothing. Take a deep breath in, and let it out slowly. Imagine the sound of birds chirping, the warmness of the sun on your face, the aroma of flowers blooming along the lush forest.
Better yet, physically find yourself your own comfortable chair or bench, near a lake or in your favorite park, and relax. Think of all the things you are grateful for, and experiences and events that made you happy this week.
When we went down to the edge of the lake, we saw ducks and geese. High on the hill sat the Pontifical Palace. When I searched for more information about this summer retreat today, I discovered that Pope Francis has actually opened up the gardens to the public. BBC's article, Inside the Pope's Private Gardens, includes a great video that's less than 5 minutes long.
Unfortunately, we did not know about this, but I found some practical information and a map in case you're interested!
We ate at Da Agnese, the restaurant Alex included on his list. Though nothing about the outside indicated it was anything special, after one bite from each of our large mixed appetizer plates (photo below), we knew Alex had steered us in the right direction!
We also passed by Ostia Antica, a site that two of my friends had recommended. The location of the harbor city of Ancient Rome, many websites insisted that an entire day would be needed. Maybe next trip!
We continued along the road to the coast, and unfortunately were disappointed when we really couldn't see the beach or sea, due to many private clubs, restaurants, and beaches.
Finally we reached the town of Zingarini and parked the car. We saw a spot between two buildings and hoped that we'd catch a glimpse of the beach. Success (image below)!
We had a fantastic day, thanks to our server, Alex, short for Alexandre, who explained that he trains for marathons by running around Lake Albano. When in doubt, ask a local!
When have you relied on the advice of a local resident in a place you've visited while traveling? What was the outcome?
Let me know in a comment below.