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The 16-c apartment (formerly the monastery’s guest quarters) has recently been fully restored, using hand-fired terracotta tiles and chestnut beams that would have been familiar to its original residents.
Most people cannot believe their eyes when they enter Casa Galilei for the first time. No photo can really do it justice – it even has its own real caves dating back to Etruscan times! The house is a little like a hobbit's lair: entered through a warren of steps and caves carved into the living rock at the back of the property and then opening out into a vast, pleasant living space overlooking the valley on the other side.
Despite its antiquity, the apartment is now comfortably equipped with and everything the present-day traveller could desire including central heating, washing machine, drier, dishwasher, wi-fi and Sky TV.
Though the Rocca, where the house is located, is pedestrianised, free parking is available 2 minutes' walk away.
Casa Galilei sleeps six in the three permanent bedrooms or eight if the sofa bed in the second lounge is used as a double bed (this option still offers plenty of communal room in the main lounge). It also has two bathrooms, one of which is ensuite. At a stretch, the house can also accommodate two extra people on single fold-away beds in the downstairs bedrooms, thus offering a total of ten sleeping places.
The house is 45 minutes from central Rome by public transport. Capena itself has a great selection of shops and restaurants.
High Season Mar 28 - Apr 10, 2015 3 night min stay
Low Season Apr 11 - Jul 17, 2015 3 night min stay
High Season Jul 18 - Sep 4, 2015 3 night min stay
Low Season Sep 5 - Dec 18, 2015 3 night min stay
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Lazio has many unsung attractions and is quite different to the nearby regions of Umbria and Tuscany.
Despite its proximity to the city centre (it lies just 30km north of Rome along the Via Tiberina), Capena retains a very distinct rural flavour with a refreshing lack of tourists.
The historical centre, a tiny unspoilt village in its own right, is also host to a small, established group of artists, the best known being Rosina Wachtmeister.
The holiday houses have been in operation for some six years now and they are proving particularly attractive to writers and academics: our returning guests all fall into this category. They offer a comfortable space (warm in winter) with wifi and proper desks/typing chairs: all the peace and comfort you could want indoors and plenty of local colour and interest when you open the door.
Many of our returning guests have made friends in the village and Capena is unique in offering a real opportunity to be part of local life in this laid-back, off-beat and friendly community.
The apartments are located in and around the town’s ancient Rocca (depicted in the pictures on this page and in several images in the Capena photo gallery), a small traffic-free community made up of a picturesque jumble of houses, stairways and cobbled streets with a relaxed bohemian feel.
Entering the old town centre is a little like stepping into a Fellini film or Cinema Paradiso, with life played out around the natural arena of the Piazza del Popolo.
Capena’s chief attractions are the warmth and friendliness of the residents, good food and drink, local colour and history, proximity to Rome and good road connections.
With excellent public transport links to the capital and an array of good local shops and restaurants, it is easy to do without a car as well.
If you do decide to hire a car, in summer you can drive to a couple of idyllic pools or one of the nearby lakes, which boast many amenities: Lake Bracciano, Lake Martignano or Lake Vigo in the crater of a volcano. The coast is an hour away by car. In winter, the ski resort of Terminillo is about an hour’s drive away – or you could soak away the chill in one of the hot springs that abound in the area. Rome and the Sabine Hills are on your doorstep waiting to be discovered at any time of year.
The main motorway to Florence is just 5 km away, giving easy access to places of interest to the north and south of Rome. The capital’s main airport, Leonardo da Vinci (Fiumicino) is under an hour’s drive away and Ciampino (where RyanAir flights land) is about 45 minutes away.
Two shopping malls containing large supermarkets can be found slightly further afield (about 5–10 minutes’ drive away).