Whether you’re looking for a day trip from Rome or a more rural meeting or incentive locale, the Lazio region and the beach town of Sabaudia are both excellent options.
- The Lazio region. Just a short drive from Rome is a region rich in archeology and history, castles and shorelines, Etruscan necropolises and cultural treasures from ancient times to the present. One must-see is the incredibly well-preserved Odeschalchi Castle in Bracciano, a feudal European castle built in the 13th century and inhabited by folks like Pope Sixtus IV and King Umberto I--the dei Medicis were also known to drop by on occasion. The frescoes alone are worth the trip, but don’t miss the view from the top turrets of the huge lake gleaming on the valley floor below.
Then there’s the Etruscan necropolis in Cerveteri, where you can explore tombs that date all the way back to the 8th century B.C. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes, since you’ll be climbing down some steep stone stairways to view the tombs’ interior chambers. In Tarquinia, be sure to visit the National Museum of Archeology. Housed in the Palazzo Vitelleschi, it contains treasures and archeological relics recovered from Etruscan tombs in the area—including full reconstructions of some of the tombs’ frescoes.
For a fabulous luncheon spot—or a relaxed hotel and meeting venue—check out the four-star SunBay Park Hotel, located between Civitavecchia and Santa Marinella. Just 44 miles from Rome, the hotel has a beautiful terrace restaurant overlooking the ocean, and four meeting rooms that can host up to 120 attendees. Even if the idea of eating octopus is a little daunting, do give it a try at Le Terrazze—it’s tender, sweet, and altogether a wonderful taste of this coastal region.
- Sabaudia. While everyone from ancient Romans to Leonardo da Vinci wanted to reclaim the fertile Pontine region south of Rome, Benito Mussolini actually made it happen in the 1920s and '30s. The result was Sabaudia, a renowned seaside resort area and lush agricultural center where you’ll find grazing buffalo—and lots of fresh buffalo mozzarella to nosh on. The town is built in the Rationalist movement style of architecture, which is clean, simple, and linear, centered around the Piazza del Comune.
While the town itself is young, the region has been attracting visitors since prehistoric times. The ancient Romans who once vacationed here left behind an aqueduct connecting the sea to Lake Paola, and Roman villas, a necropolis, bridges, roads, and walls that are still in evidence today. Because the town is located smack in the center of Ciceo National Park, you’re surrounded by sand dunes covered in blooms, lakes (there are three more in addition to Lake Paola), and the ocean. Mount Circeo, named for the enchantress Circe, rises from the sea like a mythical creature at the end of the beach. If your group is energetic, there is a two-hour trail to the mountain’s summit. Or you can drive to the hill town on Circeo’s flanks, an ancient village with stunning views of the coast and some unusual and interesting shopping areas.
Among the hotels with meeting space is the 76-room Hotel le Dune, whose meeting rooms are equipped to provide administrative support for meetings and conferences. The 120-room Oasi di Kufra is another seaside hotel geared toward the meetings business. Its convention center can accommodate up to 400 people between two meeting rooms and a large auditorium-style room. All its meeting facilities are equipped with the usual tech amenities. When I visited, there were two pharmaceutical companies using the space, with a group of 400 expected later that day. Being accustomed to multilingual meetings, the hotel offers translation services as well.