Remember Ribot? More than 50 years have gone by, but at Capannelle Racecourse the memories of the world-famous Italian-trained racehorse haven’t faded away. Even now, the track hosts an annual race, Premio Ribot, in his honor. Located in southern Rome and overlooking legendary Appian Way, Capannelle Racecourse was originally constructed in 1881 and remains a popular activity for city denizens and tourists alike. With scenic views of the Colli Albani (Alban Hills) and the group of towns collectively known as Castelli Romani, spending a day at Rome’s hippodrome means thrilling races, hectic betting, local delicacies and a plethora of social events. Here’s your guide to the action.
What to see and do
While you can enjoy competitions all throughout the year, the biggest events every horseracing honcho can’t miss take place in fall and spring. Major springtime races this year include the Premio Regina Elena (April 27) and the Italian Derby (May 18). In the fall, the hottest event is the Lydia Tesio Prize (October 26), in honor of the “first lady” of Italian horseracing and wife of legendary Thoroughbred breeder Federico Tesio.
Along with the games, both gallop and now also harness racing, Capannelle offers something to do for every age. Photo exhibits, art performances, fashion shows, a beauty contest to reward the lady sporting the best hat, fairs selling local products, a chocolate festival and a play area for children’s activities allow families to gather and enjoy their day out together. Foodies who don’t want to miss any occasion to sample local dishes can experience the races from the panoramic restaurant that, in addition to a view over the entire track, offers a small screen on each table from where you can both watch the run and place your bet. In addition to restaurants, socialites and supporters can sip on a drink at one of the wine bars and clubs, and join the outdoor celebrations, too.
How to bet
The minimum amount required to bet on the horses is two euro and there are three gambling options: using the totalizator, through simulcasting or via the terminals available in different stations scattered around the track. If you feel like betting while enjoying local food, from grilled calamari to straccetti alla romana (thin strips of beef on a bed of arugula and Parmesan cheese), the staff at the restaurants will come to your table to record your wager.
It’s possible to bet in advance on all the races of the day, and if you’re still unsure about where to place your choice, have a look at the program showing all the details of the horses and the jockeys, as well as the forecasts, and keep an eye on the totalizator screen to see the odds for the different categories.
Where to stay
If you don’t feel like trekking back into the city after a day at the track, book a room at Capannelle Hotel to relax with a meal at the fusion-focused Marco Polo restaurant, or with a dip in the open-air swimming pool.
Horse lovers who want to stay immersed in the atmosphere might prefer the quaint Locanda delle Corse, 540 yards away from the track, where rooms, suites and two-level lofts are entirely devoted to the world of horse racing, each named after a different horse and decorated with saddles, horseshoes and iconic pictures. Another option near the track is the charming Piccolo Borgo Hotel, where stylish rooms combine with amenities such as bike rentals, an outdoor pool and a shaded patio restaurant to make for a pleasant stay.
How to get there
Access Capannelle by train from Rome’s Stazione Termini; by bus 664 from metro station Colli Albani or 654 from metro station Cinecittà, both on line A; or by car, as the track offers ample parking.
Photos Courtesy of Hippodromo Capannelle