Santa Severa, a little known beach resort near Rome, is one of Lazio’s best kept secrets. With its stunning seafront fortress – the Castle of Santa Severa – and a mix of rocky and sandy beaches, there is something for everyone here.
It also boasts high quality fish restaurants, such as Pino Al Mare, and some delicious accommodation options, including the hostel located inside Santa Severa castle – the Ostello Castello Di Santa Severa.
All in all, although it’s an easy day trip from Rome – around 50 minutes on the train – it can be fun to stay the night and enjoy the after-dark charms of Santa Severa.
24 hours in Santa Severa: the quick guide
This quick guide to 24 hours in Santa Severa is all you need to plan your escape to this charming beach resort near Rome, so read on for all the details!
How to get to Santa Severa? It’s easy on the train from Rome. Trains to Santa Severa depart regularly from Rome Termini, passing through local stations including Roma Tuscolana, Rome Ostiense, Roma Trastevere and Roma S. Pietro, so it’s easy from any neighbourhood. The train takes 40-60 minutes, depending on where you get on, and costs €4.10 for an adult single.
Where to stay in Santa Severa? Inside the Castle of Santa Severa, a posh hostel offers 40 beds across 14 clean and bright rooms, some with sea views or balconies above the rocky beach. Full review below, beds from €30. To book the castle of Santa Severa Hostel, l’Ostello del Castello di Santa Severa, click here.
Pino al Mare is a clean and cosy 3* bed and breakfast in Santa Severa with 57 air-conditioned rooms, about 1 km from the castle. Boasting its very own upmarket fish restaurant and private beach directly in front of the structure, it’s a great option for a relaxing few days on the coast. Book rooms directly via the website.
What to see in Santa Severa
The castle of Santa Severa is one of the most important monuments on the Lazio coastline. Built on the foundations of the ancient Etruscan port city of Pyrgi, the current castle was built in the 14th century.
In typical medieval style, the castle of Santa Severa was constructed with fierce defences including crenelated battlements and lofty towers to defend against raiders from the sea. Within its sturdy walls, a village encampment grew up, providing safe houses, stables, workshops and farm quarters.
Owned by local barons for centuries, In 1482, it was given to the Catholic Order of the Holy Spirit, remaining in church hands for nearly five hundred years until 1980, when it became property of the state.
This castle has seen many adventures and battles in its time. It was also taken over by German troops in 1943 and used as a strategic base for the duration of the war.
Visit the Castle of Santa Severa
Today, the Castle of Santa Severa is owned by the Lazio Region, and run by the local council of Santa Marinella. It has been carefully restored in recent times and now boasts five museums, 3D facilities, a play centre, meeting rooms, and offers regular guided tours. During the summer, an additional programme of special events – including guided tours by night and an outdoor aperitivo space in the courtyard – make this a perfect spot for a summer visit.
The Castle of Santa Severa is open all year round. In low season, 1 October – 31 March, the castle is open Tuesdays – Fridays from 9 am to 4 pm; Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays from 10.30 am to 5 pm..
In mid season, 1 April – 30 June, and 1 – 30 September, visitors are welcome Tuesday – Friday from 9 am to 6 pm; Saturdays & Sundays from 10 am to 7 pm.
In high season, 1 July – 31 August, the castle is open Tuesdays – Sundays from 10.30 am to 1.30 pm, and 4 pm to 11 pm.
The ticket office shuts one hour before closing time.
Regular entrance fee: Adults pay €8.00, reductions €6.00. A family ticket for 2 adults and 2 children costs €8.00. Special evening entrance: €15.00 for adults including light show. Further details here.
Sleep in the Castle of Santa Severa
Hostel and castle may seem like semantic opposites when it comes to accommodation, but the monumental fort on the beaches of Santa Severa is a delightful oddity: a castle with a hostel!
With shared rooms from €30 per person, per night – think two to four people sharing a spacious dorm – this is rather more a simple but sparkling clean b&b at a great price. There are just 14 rooms in the castle hostel offering 40 beds in total, so the hostel of Santa Severa is frequently fully booked, particularly at weekends and in high season.
I recently visited the Ostello Castello Di Santa Severa with a group of friends and fellow bloggers, and we bagged the only sea-view room with a balcony, room number 12, which hosts four people.
Boasting princely views over the sea, expect to fall asleep to the sound of the waves. In the morning, slip down to the beach right in front of the castle for an unmissable swim – the earlier, the better! Book your room right here.
The beaches of Santa Severa
Towards the Castle of Santa Severa, and curving around its base, is a stretch of free beach open to the public. The sand is fine and good for families, while the shingle and rocks at the base of the castle are great if you like to spend most of your time in the water and prefer to avoid the crowds. This beach does get very busy in high season, particularly on weekends. However, if you have time to make a trip here Monday to Friday, especially early in the morning, you may be in for a pleasant surprise.
There are also some paid facilities in Santa Severa, offering sunbeds and umbrellas for added comfort. Do note, the beach isn’t huge at Santa Severa, so many sunbeds are booked up for season ticket holders, covering the entire summer season. This applies to most of the sunbeds in the cute, curved bay in front of Pino Al Mare.
Restaurants in Santa Severa
Pino al Mare is one of the oldest restaurants in Santa Severa and probably Santa Severa’s best fish restaurant. The hotel and restaurant dates back to 1955, when the eponymous Pino, a former nightwatchman at the castle of Santa Severa, built a B&B on the beachfront.
This successful establishment grew in size and stature, and today Pino al Mare is ideal both as a hotel for your Santa Severa getaways, and serves some of the best fish you will find along the Lazio coast.
The capacious restaurant includes a range of different zones suiting different moods. The tiered garden at the back, on swimming-blue cement floors, boasts private nooks amongst the flowers and succulents for a relaxed or romantic vibe at lunch or dinner. There are also tables under the front awnings and directly on the beach, where you should plan to kick off your shoes and dig your toes in the sand.
The menu is distinguished by seasonal ingredients and the freshest of fish, influenced by the catch of the day. If you’re passionate about raw fish and tartares, I highly recommend the platter of crudi did pesce fresco, a raw fish selection which includes raw red prawns, oysters, and freshly filleted local catches including bream, tuna and salmon (€35).
The wine list is choc full of great Italian options, include bubbles and chilled local whites, but you can also order champagne for a special occasion. I also tried a particular favourite of mine, spaghetti with sea urchin, which was an aromatic delight rich with the flavours of the sea (€20). Other classic pasta dishes include spaghetti with clams and mixed seafood.
If you like your fish deep fried and tasty, the mixed fried platter combines a light and crisp batter over morsels of moist, flavourful fish and tempura style vegetables (€30). Also highly recommended as a sharing dish if you’ve had your fill of pasta! As an alternative second course, freshly caught fish is offered at €8 per 100 g. Finish off your meal with a light, fresh lemon sorbet or the house tiramisu.
Pino al Mare | Via Cneo Domizio 32 | Santa Severa | Tel 0766 571998