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T+L Reports: Roman Holiday

When Mussolini brought in engineering experts to drain and reclaim the countryside north of what is now Rome’s Fiumicino airport, the area was malarial marshland. Some 70 years later, the twin beach towns of Fregene and Maccarese are being converted into weekend retreats, complete with buzzing restaurants, stabilimenti (bathing clubs), and nightclubs. While there’s no need to spend the night—Rome is only 21miles southeast—expect to stay until dawn. Here, the best of both worlds.

FREGENE Filled with tiny workers’ cottages and hay silos, this old fishing village is now populated by glamorous young locals who never remove their sunglasses. Miraggio Club (Day rate from $8), a privately run stabilimento, is the place to spend the day, with its Olympic-sized pool, tennis courts, and deck chairs for rent. · La Baia (Lunch for two $90), another bathing club, has a homey trattoria for a leisurely meal. · Later, dress up for a dinner at the whitewashed cottage Mastino (Dinner for two $85), where the house specialty is crostini with mini clams. · If you’re more Dante than Donatella, there’s La Spiaggetta (Dinner for two $72), known for its spaghetti alle vongole (a soupy clam sauce). · Gilda on the Beach is the town’s most popular nightclub. Each of its waterfront dance floors blasts different beats, from salsa to eighties.

MACCARESE This stretch of artichoke farmland just north of Fregene is dominated by a mile-long golden beach of deserted dunes, reachable only by a pine tree-lined, single-lane road. Right on the sand, Laguna Blu (Day rate from $6) has deck chairs for rent and a play area for kids. · At Punta Rossa (Dinner for two $100), chef Renatone (Italy’s answer to Emeril) prepares unexpected dishes such as Peruvian ceviche-style marinated fish. · Want to spy on a priest in his Speedo?Try to sneak onto Casa del Clero beach. A short drive from the center of town., the small strand is officially designated for vacationing holy men (hence the Vatican flag fluttering in the wind).

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