“Who knows not Circe, the Daughter of the Sun, whose charmed cup whoever tasted, lost its upright shape, and downward fell into a groveling swine?”.
If you are visiting Rome, and aiming for a couple of days at the seaside, you might have to decide whether to stay on the nearest beaches of Ostia and Fregene or move a little bit further. My advice is to drive towards Latina and discover the area around Mount Circeo.
A bit of history and legends
This promontory is believed to be the ancient Eea Island, home of Circe, the Goddess who kept Ulysses as a prisoner, according to Homer’s Odyssey. The shape of the land which stretches into the sea, seems to be that of the Goddes, lying motionless on the beach.
San Felice Circeo is a village located 98 km from Rome. The best way to reach it is by renting a car and take the Highway A1 towards Napoli. Exit at Frosinone, and take the State Road SS 156towards Latina. At this point you should find the directions for San Felice Circeo.
I took a train from Roma Termini, the main station of Rome. You will find a train for Priverno-Fossanova every hour. It costs 5 euros. But then, you should find a way to reach San Felice. With the buses, a 20-minute route will take you two hours. A solution could be asking your hotel for a pickup, in case you have decided to rent a room for your stay.
The village is mainly divided into two parts. The newest one develops along the coastline and is full of hotels, restaurants, and shops. The oldest one is perched on the promontory. A 20-minute stroll can take you to the upper part, where you will find old houses, a cinema, shops, restaurants and bars, and the tourist board.
The local tourist board, called Proloco in Italian, is located in an ancient building that used to be a door to access the park; you might find temporary exhibitions as well as info on excursions or events. I had the opportunity to admire the head of Circe, a learned of the Rome Archeological Museum at the moment I am writing (July 2017).
A breathtaking view
Vigna alla Corte is an enchanting park with sightseeing right in front of the ancient door. From there, you can admire the downward gulf. At night you will find people relaxing and chatting; this whew is definitely worth the walk to reach it. But is you feel lazy, you can also drive there. Be aware that finding a parking place might not be easy.
Back to the coastline area, the beaches of the village are all sandy, and the water is low, so it is perfect for children. Many are private beach resorts, all equipped with bars, different services, and areas for children. But you can also find public free beaches.
What to eat if you have a sweet tooth like me
As the place is on the sea, what you have to taste here is fish. From spaghetti with seafood, to fried calamari. But remember to taste their brioche, two types in particular: the cornetto (the French croissant filled with whipped or chantilly cream) and the Bomba.
It is made of fried dough with a filling that can be chocolate, white chocolate, chantilly, or pistachio cream just to name a few.
I had mine at Dolci Peccati di Gola, in Via Sabaudia 20. As a lactose intolerant, I had to take a special one. Would you believe that the picture had neither milk nor butter? And it was simply delicious.