Suitable for: 2 to 3 Days
Zagarolo is a cute little town off the outskirts of Rome that you definitely should include as a day trip (or even better, stay here!) out of Rome. Its a quaint little town that has a charming old vibe to it. While walking along the streets, you’ll find that locals might start looking your way as tourists seldom venture the 20-minutes train ride to visit Zagarolo. I really enjoyed my time here, and the people I met were really amazing. If you would like to experience real Italian old-town vibes, Zagarolo is right up your alley. Not to mention that prices here are way cheaper than what you’ll get in Rome (3 Euro Pasta dinners anyone?)
To get to Zagarolo, you would need to purchase a train ticket from Rome. The easiest way is from Rome Termini or Rome’s Central Station. It costs around 4 Euros one way via train, but I would suggest getting a 8 Euro BIRG pass, that includes commute for the trains from Rome into Zagarolo and back, and the internal transportation in Rome itself. I purchased the pass from this newspaper stand at the central train station (picture above). The train takes around 20 minutes and BOOM, you’re in old Italian medieval town area. Be sure to check the platform at which you’re supposed to get on the train! Sometimes, they change 10 minutes before your scheduled departure times. One thing I’ve noticed is that the timetables in Italy usually get delayed. I’m not sure whether it’s just my bad luck, or that it happens normally.
Wiki Hostel was located in Zagarolo and I think it aimed to give guests a more rustic and slower pace of life. It definitely exuded super chill vibes when I was in its premises.
I booked a 6-bed dorm, and it was perfectly fine. There was air-conditioning that was only switched on in the evenings till late morning (super important in the sweltering Italian summer), a good shower (no hot showers though but hey, it was summer), comfortable sheets and sturdy beds. Lockers were these ginormous cupboards that could literally hold my entire wardrobe.
This is the only hostel near Rome that had a POOL in it. It was just relaxing to lounge around the pool after you’ve had a few hectic days in busy Rome. They had steady WiFi and many working tables for fast connections and digital nomads.
I loved the little cute bar at connecting the building to the pool. The hostel has a rule against bringing in your own alcohol but if you follow them to the Farmer’s market on Sundays and purchase the local wines (highly recommended!) , you will be able to bring those in! The common area was this al fresco place in between the pool and the bar, where beautiful fairy lights shine above you as you enjoy a glass of wine or two with your friends.
They also had this massive garden at the back where you could play on random swings and hammocks decked out around the trees. It was certainly rustic.
The hostel also had a free breakfast was also a mini buffet which made it all so worth it. I loved the fresh ham and bread they provided, which made Zagarolo all the more a great place to stay in!
They have shuttles to bring you back and forth from the train station, as the hostel is located around 10 minutes by car from it. It was really easy to walk into Zagarolo Town from the hostel. This was such a convenient feature.
There was this time we were walking back to the hostel from town and the owner just happened to see us carrying out (many) plastic bags filled with goods from the Farmer’s market and decided to give us a free ride. That was so nice of her!
This was definitely a social hostel which held lively events in the night. Things you should NOT miss here are the Monday Pasta Nights, Friday Pizza Nights and Sunday Farmer’s market tours. In fact, they have different events every week but these 3 stay constant as they have been crowd favourites. As a result, you get a lot of time to mingle with your newfound friends and bond through making pizza, pasta or just walking around Zagarolo in search for good Gelato and the perfect pizza!
I actually met the woman who was I think the owner of the hostel? A couple own the hostel and they are super friendly. They’ll help you check train tickets, and are always approachable with warm smiles. The other staff were great as well, in fact they do hire part-time staff if you’re looking for somewhere to earn money and get free lodging. I was talking to this German girl working and she mentioned working just 5-6 hours a day, not a bad deal! I did not interact much with the rest of the staff but from what I saw, there were good attitudes and great service in general.
I chose this hostel because I wanted to experience something away from major cities in Italy. Zagarolo was the perfect spot for that so if you guys are looking for a similar experience, do check out Wiki Hostel & Green Village!
Zagarolo has actually a really strategic location because it is located on a plateau within 2 deep ravines. This helped fortify the place and prevent conquests from enemies. When you reach the main square, you will notice a Roman Bathtub that has been donated to the town. It was dedicated to Emperor Claudius of Rome at that time. In the main town, there will be plenty of memorials and interesting monuments to look at. Go explore!
Doing the Farmer’s market here was a thrilling experience as I was excited to see what the Italian farmers cultivated and sold, I had not been to one in Italy. It was such an eye-opening activity.
3 bottles of wine for 5 Euros. Yes, you heard me. 3 bottles of nice, refreshing, red or white wine for 5 EUROS. The farmer was shell-shocked at how my friends and I all bought 3 bottles each……we practically bought his entire produce for that particular wine. Before we did that we asked our hostel if we could bring them back in (As they usually did not permit alcohol bought outside the hostel) and they said yes (Hurray!). We had a wine feast in the afternoon and we still could not finish all the wine by midnight. The quality was not the best but it was still decent wine! I would gladly drink my 1.50 Euro wine anyday!
The market also sold antiques like radios and cassette players that was actually cool to see. I didn’t like the figurine dolls though they were scary. So one section of the market you get all the foodstuff, and the other side would be non-perishables and other toys.
Did you know that proper Gelato has to be kept under metal canisters like the ones above? This shop sold one of the best Pistachio Gelatos I ever ate in Rome, the best was near Venice though. Still, it’s worth a shot getting your Gelato fix here for just 1 Euro a cup! Super worth it and you get to enjoy it without the crowds in Rome!
Wiki Hostel provides a BBQ dinner for 8 Euros on certain nights and it sure is fun! The meats are all taken fresh from the local farmers around the area so you’re also contributing to help these local farmers who are friends of the owners. They also make delicious salad plates to accompany the meats. You can be sure that you’ll get full as there was plenty to go around when the dinner arrived.
Do take note that the dinner will start around 8pm though so if you’re the kind to get hungry around 7, do grab a bite before you return. Go to the pasta stall just down the road and get some fresh Ravioli / Carbonara / Lasagne for just 4 Euros! My stomach’s growling just writing about this.
Zagarolo was perfect for wandering around and exploring old cobblestone streets alone. I loved how tranquil it was, how different it was from Rome, and a sense of inner peace it gave me. Sometimes, the best things about travelling are not ticking off boxes, but just wandering and seeing what comes around the corner.
The photo on the right shows the houses which the local Italians lived in, I don’t really see much of these in Central Rome. The street on the top right shows the Vicolo Baciadonne street, the street actually means ” Kissing the Woman” , so you probably can infer how this narrow and dark street in the heart of Zagarolo got its name 😛
There is a pasta place down the road that has a really good deal. You get any pasta for 4 Euros, and you can combine them with a bottle of water or a side dish for 4.50 Euro or 6 Euro total. I really loved the Lasagne here it was fantastic and the CHEAPEST pasta meal I’ve eaten in Italy, and they made it so fresh! My stomach’s growling again just thinking about it….
Just beside the pasta place was this pizza shop that sold the best Cucina (or fried fish fillet balls? ) You can see them on the picture above (Bottom right), they were simply amazing. Do grab some of them to try when you’re there! They also sold a wide variety of other small bites and pizza which I did not try.
Zagarolo would make a for a good break from the crowds of Rome, especially if you are after a unique Italian medieval town experience. I had some of the best pasta and fruits here in Zagarolo, for the most amazing prices as well. The budget traveller would love this little side trip if you are planning on visiting Rome. Not to mention the stunning hostel with its pool and social atmosphere! Do let me know if you visit Zagarolo! I’ll love to hear about your experience!
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