Bracciano[3] is a small town in the Italian region of Lazio, 30 kilometres (19 miles) northwest of Rome. The town is famous for its volcanic lake (Lago di Bracciano or "Sabatino", the eighth largest lake in Italy) and for a particularly well-preserved medieval castle Castello Orsini-Odescalchi. The lake is widely used for sailing and is popular with tourists; the castle has hosted a number of events, especially weddings of actors and singers.

Comune di Bracciano

Coat of arms
Location of Bracciano
Location of Bracciano in Italy
Bracciano (Lazio)
Coordinates: 42°06′N 12°11′E
Metropolitan cityRome (RM)
FrazioniCastel Giuliano, Pisciarelli, Sambuco, Vicarello, Vigna di Valle
  MayorArmando Tondinelli
  Total143.06 km2 (55.24 sq mi)
280 m (920 ft)
 (31 December 2017)[2]
  Density130/km2 (350/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
  Summer (DST)UTC+2 (CEST)
Postal code
Dialing code06
Patron saintSt. Sebastian
Saint dayJanuary 20
WebsiteOfficial website

The town is served by an urban railway (Line FR3) which connects it with Rome (stations of Ostiense and Valle Aurelia) in about 55 minutes. Close to it lie the two medieval towns of Anguillara Sabazia and Trevignano Romano.


Lake Bracciano, Italian Lago di Bracciano, ancient (Latin) Lacus Sabatinus, circular lake in Roma provincia, Lazio (Latium) regione, central Italy. It lies in the Sabatini Mountains, just northwest of Rome. Mineral hot springs along its shores recall its earlier geologic formation from a group of volcanic craters. The surface lies 538 feet (164 m) above sea level, with an area of 22 square miles (58 square km). The maximum depth is 525 feet (160 m) and the diameter is about 5.5 miles (9 km). The lake, drained by the Arrone River on its southeast side, is known for its eels and other fish. The lakeside towns of Bracciano and Anguillara Sabazia preserve their magnificent late-medieval castles. There is a museum of military airplanes at Vigna di Valle on the south shore.

In 1419 the Colonna Pope Martin V confirmed the fief of Bracciano in the Orsini family branch of Tagliacozzo. Under this powerful family the city developed into a flourishing town, famous in the whole of Italy for its castle, which was enlarged, starting from 1470, by Napoleone Orsini and his son Virginio. In 1481 it housed Pope Sixtus IV, who had fled from the plague in Rome; the Sala Papalina in one of the corner towers commemorates the event. Four years later, however, the city and the castle were ravaged by Papal troops under Prospero Colonna, and subsequently a new line of walls was built.

In 1494 Charles VIII of France and his troops marching against Rome stopped at Bracciano. This act led to the excommunication of the Orsini, and in 1496 the city was besieged by a papal army headed by Giovanni di Candia, son of Pope Alexander VI Borgia, though it resisted successfully. Cesare Borgia, another of Alexander's natural sons, was unsuccessful in his attempt to take the Orsini stronghold a few years later. The sixteenth century was a period of splendour for Bracciano. The notorious spendthrift and libertine Paolo Giordano I Orsini, having married in 1558 Isabella de' Medici, daughter of Cosimo I, Grand Duke of Tuscany, received the title of duke of Bracciano in 1560. The castello received some modernization for the brief visit of the Medici that year. He hired the most prestigious painter available in Rome, Taddeo Zuccaro, to fresco with allegories and coats-of-arms the fortress's most prestigious room, the Sala Papalinia that had been occupied by Sixtus IV.[4] Isabella spent the remainder of her life avoiding a return to the castle, which a modern tourist tradition would have her haunting.[5]

The economy was boosted by the exploitation of sulphur and iron, the production of tapestries and paper. The latter was favoured by the construction of an aqueduct whose ruins can still be seen in the city. Bracciano in this period had some 4,500 inhabitants.

However, the expensive tenor of life of the Orsini eventually damaged the economic conditions of the city. The last great ruler was probably Paolo Giordano II, a patron of arts and literature who made Bracciano a center of culture in Italy. The decline culminated in 1696 when the castle was sold to Livio Odescalchi, nephew of Pope Innocent XI; the Odescalchi family still retain the castle.

In the castle, richly frescoed friezes and ceilings now contrast with blank walls, which were hung with richly coloured tapestries when the lords of Bracciano were in residence. The important late-15th century frieze showing the labours of Hercules[6] is still visible.

The main economic activities are tourism, services and agriculture. Until the twentieth century the region was notoriously unhealthy for its malaria, now eradicated; as a result, none of the fine villas were built at the water's edge, but all stood on healthier rises of ground.

Main sights

The main monument of Bracciano is its castle, Castello Orsini-Odescalchi, one of the most noteworthy examples of Renaissance military architecture in Italy.

3 km (2 mi) outside the city, alongside the road leading to Trevignano Romano, is the ancient church of San Liberato (ninth century). It occupies what was once the Roman settlement of Forum Clodii, now surrounded by an herb garden, part of the complex of English-style gardens at the adjoining Villa San Librato, designed by Russell Page in 1965 for the art historian conte Donato Sanminatelli and his contessa, Maria Odescalchi, and carried out over the following decade.

On the same road are the ruins of the Aquae Apollinaris, a complex of baths famous in the Roman age.

At Vigna di Valle, next to the lake, the former seaplane base today houses the Italian Air Force Museum.[7] The museum's four hangars hold a number of historical military aircraft, including famous planes such as the MC. 202, the Supermarine Spitfire, the Savoia Marchetti S.79, the F-104 Starfighter, the Caproni Ca.100 and the Panavia Tornado. Also on view is a remarkable collection of three Schneider Cup racers, including the Macchi M.C.72. The museum stages an annual 'Giornata Azzura' airshow at Pratica di Mare airport.


The Köppen Climate Classification subtype for this climate is "Csa" (Mediterranean climate).[8]

Climate data for Bracciano
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 9
Average low °C (°F) 3
Average precipitation mm (inches) 110
Source: Weatherbase [9]

Twin towns

Bracciano is twinned with


See also


  1. "Superficie di Comuni Province e Regioni italiane al 9 ottobre 2011". Istat. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  2. "Popolazione Residente al 1° Gennaio 2018". Istat. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  3. Bracciano is pronounced in three syllables: "Bra-CHA-no"
  4. Caroline P. Murphy, Murder of a Medici Princess 2008:80f.
  5. "Given that Isabella could not bear the idea of living in Bracciano when she was alive, it seems unlikely she would choose to haunt the castle dead," observes Caroline P. Murphy, Murder of a Medici Princess 2008:351.
  6. Malcolm Bull, The Mirror of the Gods, How Renaissance Artists Rediscovered the Pagan Gods, Oxford UP, 2005, ISBN 0-19-521923-6
  7. url= Archived 2010-01-16 at the Wayback Machine
  8. Climate Summary for Bracciano
  9. . 2013 Missing or empty |title= (help) Retrieved on July 29, 2013.

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