Driving through the rolling countryside on the outskirts of Rome, you will be struck by its natural beauty and grace. Soon you will arrive at the Catacombs, a curious underground maze of tunnels hollowed out of the volcanic rock. Here, the early Christians, who were persecuted by the Romans, practiced their religion in secret and buried their dead in the underground chambers.
From here, it's on to the lovely medieval town of Castel Gandolfo, renowned for centuries as the summer residence of the Pope. In fact, Castel Gandolfo's Papal Palace and Gardens are actually part of the sovereign Vatican State.
Continuing on, you will make your way through the gentle hills and undulating fields of Rome's wine-growing hinterland and the farm house "Monte Due Torri" which is located in the middle of the Albani Hills. This farmhouse includes in its 20 hectares a restaurant, a pub, a natural pool, a wine cellar, a tourist train, a picnic area, a botanic garden and more than 2.000 years of history. This farm house is also well-known because it is the only place in the Lazio region where aceto balsamico ( balsamic vinegar) is produced.
Originally, the area was inhabited by the Volsci - ancient Italic people prominent in the history of Roman expansion in the 5th century B.C. The Volsci, the most dangerous enemies of Rome, were the inhabitants of the south part of the Lazio region. It is also recorded that in the area of the farmhouse, the Volsci fought against the Romans and the Latins continuously for 200 years. It is here that the dictator Mario Furio Camillo in 389 A.C. defeated the Volsci with a furious battle and liberated the place from their dominion.
The location where the farm house was built offers many interesting spots to discover ancient Roman and medieval archeological finds. The first ones consist of some impressive cisterns, surely belonging to some long ago villas. Today, this has been transformed into a restaurant whose atmosphere allows one to experience the age and the time of the walls which are considered truly blessed since various battles and volcanic eruptions destroyed everything else.
The name of the farm house "Monte Due Torri" was given because of the high towers of the ancient castle located on the hill which during World War II were an important landmark for Americans who bombed the area from Anzio and were destroyed in 1944 by German troops
Upon arrival at the farmhouse, you will be met by one of the members of the Amici family that have lived there for more than a half century - head farmer Edoardo who will introduce you to the place by visiting the Roman tanks and wine cellars.
At the entrance, you will find a woman making pasta and perhaps be invited to join her. During the delicious lunch you will be served here, you will taste the freshly made pasta served with a home made tomato sauce. Your lunch will also include some local products as bruschetta done with home made bread, a bowl of fresh mixed salad grown in the local garden; home made lasagna and a sweet tiramisu. Everything will be accompanied with white and red wines that have been produced on the farm, finishing off with a glass of sweet wine, the same one used to celebrate Masses in the Catholic Churches, and ciambelline (special Roman ring-shaped biscuits made at the farm house ) will be served. Of course, you cannot leave without enjoying a cup of coffee or cappuccino!
As a souvenir, the farm owner will provide each guest with a post card of the farm that they can fill out and send off to their friends and family. The stamp will even be provided by the farmer.
After a truly memorable day, you will re-board your coach and travel back to the ship.
Please note: Catacombs are very narrow underground tunnels; there are approximately 50 steps to negotiate and steep in some parts. Access to Castel Gandolfo requires approximately 230 yards of walking uphill on cobblestones and approximately 20 steps to negotiate.