Centro & Sud Italia
Who doesn't remember La Dolce Vita, the 1960 masterpiece by Federico Fellini who photographed the magnificence of Rome in the sparkling years of the postwar renaissance? Following in the footprints of its protagonists Marcello Mastroianni and Anita Ekberg (but avoiding the extremely prohibited dip in the Trevi Fountain!), let us indulge in the atmosphere of the Capital, but not before facing the challenge of Italy's oldest course, the Acquasanta, and having played the course which will be hosting the Ryder Cup in 2022 in advance, the Marco Simone. From here, perhaps an episode in the greenery of Umbria or rather a journey south to the heel of the Italian boot, where the sea, architectural beauty and fine food are a true triumph of pleasure.
Rome is the capital of Italy even when speaking of golf. Tradition permeates the air here: the Circolo del Golf Roma Acquasanta, in the southern part of the city, is Italy's oldest course. It is living testimony to the origins of golf in Italy, and visitors can feel it immediately in the ambiance upon entering the sober clubhouse of English inspiration. Indeed English diplomats were the ones who founded this club at the beginning of the century. Over time, few concessions were made to modernization: no ostentation, but rather a hushed elegance that is slightly snobbish.
Proceeding 16 kilometers south towards Lake Albano, we find the Country Club Castelgandolfo, an 18-hole course designed by Robert Trent Jones in an ancient volcanic crater. The clubhouse - a 17th century villa built at the behest of Cardinal Flavio Chigi - looks over the entire course, whose slopes form an enormous naturally tiered landscape.
In the northern part just beyond Lake Bracciano, we find the Golf Club Nazionale, one of Italy's most beautiful and demanding courses, opened in 1985 to host the Italian Golf Federation school and where today exams are still given to golf instructors and coaches seeking their diplomas. From here, just outside of the chaotic city, you can set out for interesting excursions to the archeological sites around the Sabatini Mountains and enchanting Lake Bracciano.
From here, those who love the tranquility of nature and reflection can head towards the green region of Umbria and the lands of Saint Francis of Assisi, because here they will find valid courses that will challenge them: the Circolo Golf Perugia, a gently rolling par 72 with lush vegetation which serves as a border along the perimeter of many of the holes where precision is a necessity, especially on the first shot. The clubhouse was converted from an old lime-kiln dated 1921, of which the commanding towers were kept that now guard over the course. The 9 holes of the Golf Club Lamborghini, the last work of the creator of the famous Miura, Ferrucio Lamborghini, extend over 30 hectares of land, surrounded by splendid woodlands and vineyards stretching between Panicale and Lake Trasimeno. The Antognolla Golf is a magnificent 18-hole course designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr., at the foot of an enchanting 12th century medieval castle that has been perfectly restored, overlooking the course in all its magnificence.
For those of you yearning for the sea, head to the Apulia region, "the heel of the boot", a veritable paradise of coastlines with some rocky and sheer stretches, others sandy and dotted with picturesque and welcoming hamlets where tourists reign supreme. Lecce, the capital of the Salento peninsula and known as the Florence of the South, is an extraordinary architectural triumph where the ancient origins and archeological remains of the Roman rule blend with the wealth and exuberance of the 18th century Baroque. Throughout the entire region, outstanding gastronomic products are the joy of every gourmet. Orecchiette pasta with turnip greens, rice with potatoes and mussels, chicory greens with purréed fava beans, taralli-type crackers made with olive oil...a true celebration of the palate.
Golfers will not want to miss the Acaya Golf Club, 15 kilometers from the center of Lecce towards the sea and Le Cesine WWF nature reserve, and 40 kilometers from the Brindisi airport. The 18-hole course, designed by the American firm Hurdzan/Fry Environmental Golf Design, is often influenced by winds that can be rather intense and changeable, making it a true challenge for average as well as expert players, with water flanking eight holes out of eighteen. All of this surrounded by intact Mediterranean brushlands with exquisite blooming cistus and rosemary.
An hour by car along the coast heading north brings us to the San Domenico Golf, part of a luxurious resort preferred by celebrities such as Madonna and Justin Timberlake, bordering on the ancient Mycenaean city of Gnatia (5th century BC) and the Savelletri marina. Rather flat yet cinematically speaking, it is one of Italy's most beautiful courses, being the only one offering a seaview from all 18 holes.