The surroundings of Rome: a food and wine tour in Frascati
The surroundings of Rome: a food and wine tour in Frascati A trip to Rome will remain forever in the memory of the traveler: it is difficult indeed to find a place so rich in art, charm and monuments that narrate the intense history of the city, from the imperial age to the Renaissance to the Republican one. If, however, wandering through the picturesque streets of Rome has caused you to lose energy, amid endless rows passing under a scorching sun to admire the Colosseum, the Imperial Forums or the Vatican Museums, then plan a day trip to the Roman Castles, in particular to Frascati.
The Alban Hills are gentle mountains that occupy what was once the Lazio volcano: the landscape is truly bucolic, between lakes, vineyards and picturesque villages known as the Castelli Romani. One of these is Frascati, the perfect destination for your trip away from the Roman chaos: the mix of historical and artistic heritage, consisting essentially of the elegant Tuscan villas and the long culinary tradition will win you over, leaving you the desire to return to this oasis in the heart of the green Roman countryside.
The history of Frascati has gone through many vicissitudes and is closely linked to many popes. From Liber Pontificalis in the 9th century, the town became a diocese with the destruction of ancient Tusculum. Many were the noble families that succeeded in his dominion, from the Colonnas, with whom Frascati grew both urbanistically and economically, up to the Farnese. With the end of feudalism marked by the passage to the Apostolic Chamber, the city was named civitas by Pope Paul III and assumed the name of Tusculum Novum.
The second world war left enormous wounds to the city, which became German headquarters with the presence of General Kesserling: over a thousand bombs were dropped by the Americans, with serious human losses and destruction of most of the historical beauties of Frascati, too if many have fortunately been recovered.
The name Frascati is thought to be related to the branches used to light the fire or, as is more likely, to those twigs hanging outside small taverns to indicate to the travelers that in those places you could stop to sip some good wine. Inside you could taste a few loaves of bread and cheese, as there was no kitchen: they were generally used by farmers to sell the products of their land, consumed on simple wooden boards with common songs to cheer the consummation. These taverns were called fraschette and in 1450 there were more than a thousand: artists, writers and poets were fascinated, just like Gioacchino Belli.
The food and wine heritage of Frascati
If today you walk through the historic center of Frascati, among narrow alleys and pretty little squares that will take you back to the fascinating medieval period, you will meet many fraschette where you can enjoy a sumptuous lunch, tasting the excellent local cuisine. Whatever you taste, do not skimp on watering it with the local wine excellence, namely the Frascati DOC, that straw yellow white wine with a fresh and delicate flavor and ancient origin: it is said that it was Telegono, son of Circe and Ulisse, to bring the vineyard right on the Italian soil.
So enjoy the Frascati DOC as the Roman general Lucullo did, accompanying it with dishes linked to the territory such as pasta alla gricia, cacio e pepe or with Roman broccoli. If you prefer a street-food meal, do not miss the bread of Lariano or Genzano stuffed with the tasty porchetta of Ariccia PGI or with the coppietta, that is strips of pork and horse, spicy and dried.
If you love sweets, besides tasting Nemi strawberries, don't miss the ricotta and blackberry tart, the wine donuts but above all the frascatana puppet: the latter is a rather high biscuit made from flour, honey, extra virgin olive oil olive and orange flavor (with optional additions of cinnamon and chocolate). The peculiarity of these biscuits is linked to their shape, ie a woman with three breasts: the reason for these curious features lies in the figure of the mammana, the nurse who looked after the children of the women who worked in the vineyards during the harvest. If the young turned out to be rather bratty and agitated, the mammana used a fake breast from which the children drank a few drops of wine, with the aim of calming them: this is the reason for the three breasts made on the biscuit.
The most beautiful villas in Frascati
After satisfying your appetite with the countless delicacies of Frascati, set out to discover the splendid Tuscolan Villas, generally born between 1550 and 1620. Villa Aldobrandini, otherwise called Belvedere, was defined by writer Goethe as the most beautiful villa of the planet. The building rises, majestic and elegant, on the Tuscolan Hill: visit inside the rooms elegantly frescoed by Cavalier d'Arpino and Domenichino, before discovering the park, enriched by Italian gardens, fountains with lively water games and caves such as the Nymphaeum of Parnassus. Once you have passed maples, oaks, limes, oaks and pines from Aleppo, head towards the 18th century stables where the Tuscolano Museum is located: in the exhibition area, dedicated to the ancient Frascati, there are also scale models of all the villas of Frascati.
Equally beautiful are Villa Tuscolana or Rufinella, in the Vanvitellian style, and Villa Lancellotti, born on land that saw Roman soldiers bring back numerous victories. Do not forget to admire the Teatro dell'Acqua, a fountain created by the Ponzio, the Maderno and the Fontana, located in the gardens of Villa Torlonia, a seventeenth-century mansion where Clemente VIII also lived.
Finish your stay in Frascati in the Villa Falconieri, whose beauty is linked above all to its sumptuous interiors where mythological and country-style frescoes abound. The central hall is particularly beautiful where, looking up, you can admire the painted ceiling with a Venus receiving sea gifts from the god Neptune, while in the Sala della Primavera you'll find yourself surrounded by frescoes of doves and allegories of the seasons.
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