Spend half a day an hour’s drive beyond Italy’s hectic capital city and visit the Castelli Romani, a group of communes in the Roman province located at a very short distance from the Eternal City, right at the base of the Alban Hills.
Ariccia is one of these quaint villages. It offers wonderful sightseeing and cultural opportunities; its Bernini-designed Palazzo Chigi is a little gem not to be missed; the church of Santa Maria Assunta is another contribution of the designer of St. Peter's Square in Rome; the monumental Ariccia bridge is also a must-see, not only because of its architectural history, but also for its notorious sad past of site frequently chosen to commit suicide.
However, what Ariccia and the other towns of the area are really famous for is the chance to eat the best roast pork (porchetta) ever. Fraschette are casual osteria-type dining places whose name is derived from the old habit of nailing a vine twig on the cellar’s entrance with the purpose to advertise a new vintage. Frasca–and the diminutive fraschetta–means slender twig. Until not long ago, these establishments were so informal that people could carry their own food at the table and just pay for wine and beverages. Even today this won't bother a fraschetta owner.
The region is also home to some of the oldest wine-producing vineyards in the world. Etruscans and Greek settlers produced wine in the country long before the Romans started developing their own vineyards in the 2nd-century BC. Now - 2,000 years later - Italy is one of the world's foremost producers, accounting for approximately one-fifth of the world’s wine production. A wine taking its name from a Castelli Romani village is the Frascati white wine, whose grapes have been cultivated in this zone since the 5th century B.C.
Slices of fresh roasted pork, pecorino cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms, olives, and artichoke hearts with plenty of extra oil will be yours to taste accompanied by the right wines.
This tour is designed for food, wine and nature lovers, but also for those willing to... do as the Romans do.