Sunday, December 13, 2009

Food, wine & music in Frascati

Last Sunday my friend Ana and I took a day trip to Frascati. The Lawyer (a guy I had a little flirtation with when I first arrived) had invited me there one evening but I turned him down since he asked me at the absolute last minute and I just don't roll like that. But he made it sound really cool so I put it on my list of cities to check out. Frascati, about 20 mins away from Rome by train, is known for its wine so it’s a popular nightlife destination for Romans looking to do something different on a Friday or Saturday night. But without access to a car, Ana and I decided to just go for the day.



It’s a beautiful little town but that’s not really saying much because Italy in general is beautiful—you gotta be bring a whole lot to the table if you want to stand out as a special, unique city. Physically I wouldn’t rank it any higher than say Milan. BUT the trip to Frascati will stand out as one of the best, most-authentic days I had during my entire stay in Rome.



There was a huge street market going so we wandered around the town for a while (it seemed like every single resident and their dog was out enjoying their Sunday afternoon passagiata), looking at the random merchandise, stopping in the church and checking out the views of Rome. Finally we stumbled onto a piazza that had cart after cart of the very thing I came after: PORCHETTA.


Last year a porchetta shop opened on my block in New York. It got great write-ups and there was always a long line out the door but I would pass by the place every day without so much as a second glance. I'm just not normally a pork eater, if I have it five times a year its a record. But now that I was in Frascati (right next door to Ariccia where porchetta comes from) I had to have it—if only to be able to tell all those downtown hipsters I had the real deal :)



So we stopped a man on the street and asked him to point us to the best place to buy porchetta. We bought the sandwiches along with a large container of sundried tomatoes, artichokes and grilled eggplant (all of it drizzled in olive oil) and walked down the street to the cantina he recommended.



Now this was the coolest part: you buy your lunch then bring it to a tiny little cellar that serves nothing but homemade wine. For 1 Euro we got to fill up a pitcher with wine from the huge barrels in the back of the shop, spread out our food on a picnic table and eat and drink to our hearts content.




While we were eating we chatted with the owner of the cantina as people came in and out with empty bottles to fill up with wine (someone even came with a empty liter bottle of Pepsi, no joke). As our wine ran out, Max (the brother of the owner) came over and filled our glasses back up with wine from his pitcher. He was clearly nuts (in the best possible way) but we somehow got into an interesting conversation with him about Italy (he emphatically insisted that he wasn’t Italian, he was Roman) that segued onto the topic of music and he told us he was a musician who performed all over Lazio. Suddenly he stood up and ran out of the shop. Five minutes later he came back with his guitar, plopped himself down at our table and started to sing for us.



Aside from us, there was an older couple from Rome who had driven to Frascati for lunch. Between listening to the beautiful Italian songs, talking with the older couple, speaking in French with one of the customers (he was explaining the concept of the cantina to us but asked to switch to French as his French was better than his English—yay for knowing a foreign language!) and chatting with the shop owners, it was an incredible afternoon. We stumbled out of there 3 hours later, tipsy from the delicious wine (in addition to the two carafes we bought, Max must have filled our glasses 4 times), stuffed from all the great food and grinning from ear to ear. I live for those kinds of experiences.

video

One funny thing to mention: there were tons of gnats flying around the cantina, one even fell in my drink. I’m really squeamish in general but the owner insisted that they wouldn't hurt us and it was totally normal to have them around since they just finished making a fresh batch of wine that morning. Um… ok. We spent half the time swatting gnats and trying to keep them from falling into our meal. As we were leaving Ana joked, “Don’t worry. If we’re lucky we only ate 10 of them.”

12 comments:

  1. The city sounds awesome. It is so inspiring how you are really living your life up to the fullest in Italia. Buono!

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  2. Sounds like an enchanting and magical day!

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  3. I just now read your Benjamin Button post (I saved that quote...it was beautiful, touching and inspiring) and the rest of the posts that followed and I just wanted to say that it was wonderful following your adventures. I wish you all of the love, light, and beauty life has to offer. Thanks for sharing your stories with us...

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  4. Rhonalala- Thanks! Frascati is definitely worth a trip... its such an authentic Italian experience.

    Jenn- It really was! In that lazy sort of way.

    Gigi- Thank you so much for reading! It was a really fun ride... I'm sad its over but am trying to get into the swing of things here in New York. Italy (Europe for that matter) will never be far from my heart-- hopefully I'll find my way back there again one day!

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  5. Haven't seen any new posts from you in a very long time. I hope things are ok as I am missing your adventures of living abroad.

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  6. Hi there! I'm back Stateside which is why I haven't been posting. No plans to return to Europe just yet (aside from vacations) but I'll be sure to update if I do! Thanks for reading! :)

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  7. I loved reading about your adventures in Italy (and France before that). So what's next? Staying in the US? Heading back to Europe?

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  8. Hey, thanks! I'm back in New York for the time being... now that you ask, I guess I really should do a final blog entry about that :)

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  9. Hi Stacy. I loved both of your blogs. My name is Alicia I am moving to Europe Fall 2011. I am considering Italy and France since you've lived in both places I hope you could provide so insight. I tried emailing you using the email link on your profile page, but it doesnt work since i don't have that email program set up on my computer.

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  10. Hi Fashion-- thanks for reading! You can email me at bacifromrome@gmail.com.

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