Heading north from Rome, leaving the shores of the Tyrrhenian Sea, on an outcrop of volcanic tufa is the medieval village of Ceri. A ring of crenelated walls surrounds the ancient dwellings, the Church of Mary Immaculate, a place of pilgrimage, and the Torlonia Palace, all facing the village square. Ceri is an ideal starting point for many interesting itineraries: from the beaches of the Tyrrhenian Sea to those of the volcanic Lake Bracciano with its small, medieval villages perched around the crater; from the castles of Palo and Santa Severa by the sea to the fortress of Michelangelo in Civitavecchia; from the Etruscan necropolis of Cerveteri to the hot springs; from the natural oasis of Palo and the Tolfa Hills to the Caldara of Manziana. It’s a spot full of charm and excitement in the vicinity of Rome, and only twenty minutes’ drive from Fiumicino International Airport.

Here is to be found the bed and breakfast Borgo di Ceri, an old building which contains three separate, self-contained apartments: the “Casa del Facocchio,” the “Casa del Vergaro” and “La Polveriera.”

The architecture of the building emphasizes the historical periods that, over millennia, characterize the village of Ceri. The Etruscans, the Romans, the Middle Ages and the 18th century have all left evidence of their presence in the village. The house and the guests’ accommodations all have separate entrances from the village square. The opposite side of the building opens onto a Mediterranean garden, close to the valley by the walls. In the garden you will find a grill for summer suppers, the owners’ small studio, the family vegetable garden and the cellar, carved into the tufa, where the home-made wines “live.” All the interiors preserve the charm of the old borough, from the original furnishings to the fireplaces, from the ceilings supported by old wooden beams to the stone floors. Parking, private and free, is situated on the premises.

The price is all-inclusive. Breakfast is supplied by the owner but has to be prepared by the guests. Not included is daily cleaning of the rooms, but every four days the sheets and towels are changed and the apartment cleaned. The kitchen is fully equipped, and heating, gas, electricity, TV, wi-fi, barbecue, air conditioning (where available), private parking, use of the garden and garden furniture, washing machine and outside washing lines and many other facilities are available. Children ages 4 and under are free; for those ages 5 to 12 a 20% discount is applied. Check-in is between 3:00 and 8:00 pm. Check-out should be by 11:00 am, unless a different time is previously agreed upon. Deposit upon reservation is 30% of the total cost of the stay. Once availability of the requested apartment is assured, confirmation via email and a deposit of 30% of the total amount due will render the reservation definite. Payment is by credit card (except American Express) or bank draft. No animals are allowed.

Nearby is the restaurant La Rocca, which is a special place to eat, carved as it is into beautiful countryside surroundings. The staff is always ready to welcome you and let you taste traditional dishes. Tiziana and Daniela are dedicated to the kitchen, Massimo and Sergio handle the magnificent ancient brazier of the Palazzo Torlonia, and Emanuela organizes the many spaces available in the restaurant. La Rocca is really surprising for the number and diversity of the spaces available, almost all with breathtaking views, featuring the green valley that holds the block of tufa where the small medieval village of Ceri was erected in the Middle Ages. My visit to La Rocca was with Yuni and Berni, two relatives of the Jesuit St. Alberto Hurtado. After a visit to the Church of Mary Immaculate, we headed to La Rocca and were seated on a terrace with a breathtaking view. Our waitress brought us a pleasant opened red wine from the area, and sparkling Nepi mineral water. We thought we would start with the antipasti, including various cold meats, ham and salami, mozzarella cheese, roast eggplant and zucchini and red and yellow peppers. They have a special main course here, which is young pork, cooked in milk and slowly roasted in the large log oven. This is a delicate and tender dish and not at all fatty; it came with roast potatoes and salad. Yuni and Berni felt satisfied with what they had eaten, but I enjoyed a small portion of fresh pineapple. This magnificent lunch came to a modest 25 Euro each (cheaper than a similar meal would have cost in Rome) to which I added a small gratuity for friendly service.

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