THE LAZIO REGION: home to Italy's capital Rome, but you may not be familiar with the region itself, which until fairly recently has been somewhat of a Cinderella to its neighbours Tuscany and Umbria. Lazio is rich in Mediterranean charm with contrasting landscapes... mountains melt into plains, an abundance of volcanic lakes nourishes the surrounding territory. Attractive hidden coves contrast with long stretches of sandy beach adorning the coastline that was once the favourite playground of Emperors and the wealthy upper classes. For Tiberius, Nero, Caligula and Hadrian, the Lazio countryside was the destination of choice. Although not far from Rome physically, you can feel a world away, stumbling upon close-knit communities who still speak in dialect, gaining an unconventional glimpse into rural Italian life in this enchanting, largely overlooked part of central Italy.