Rome with its enduring history, spectacular and breath taking with every step and around every corner another world heritage site needs no more guides. I could never do justice to the soul and romance of Rome. The Ancient gravitas that hangs in the air, the pomp of religion, the perfect expresso with rich gelato, the piazzas, the glamourous people themselves…
I want to inspire you take a day out of your Rome mini break and head for the hills and countryside so rich in its olive groves and vineyards it beggars belief. A day trip filled with culture and fresh air timely mixed with some of the most exquisite food and warm hospitality to be found outside the city!
We started our day with me having no idea what my ‘Sunday surprise tour’ was to be…a deep fear spread over my body. Last night’s Prosecco and Limoncello had left me feeling shaky and somehow I imagined my surprise to be in the form of a Vespa and with the narrow cobbled streets I was panicking.
The door opened and …my chariot maximus awaited… a convertible mixed with sunshine! Bliss.
With the help of google maps and some very interesting takes on place names…got to love the google accent… we made our way out of Rome towards Tivoli, east of Rome in the Monti Tiburtini hills. Roof down, coffee from a local expresso bar and Fleetwood Mac playing we wound our way up the hills filled with Olive Groves and paysanne views.
The air is noticeably fresher than in the city and in the sweltering summer months must be a welcome escape.
Arriving in Tivoli we made the mistake of trying to drive to the Villa and the gardens we were there to see – the streets are medieval and narrow and amazing but locals drive at you and best park in the municipal- rather underwhelming central square!
The Villa d’Este http://www.villadestetivoli.info
Listed as a UNESCO world heritage site, it is a fine example of Renaissance architecture and the Italian Renaissance garden.It is surrounded on three sides by a sixteenth-century courtyard sited on the former Benedictine cloister. Short queue and we are in. Walk around the Villa if you wish for beautiful frescos but with beautiful sunshine I would suggest going straight to the gardens.
The garden plan is laid out on a central axis refreshed by some five hundred jets in fountains, pools and water troughs. The water is supplied by the local river, Aniene, and it is the water features and symmetry of this garden that are breath taking. The aspect and views each in turn more smile inducing. The walkways and paths give endless opportunity to explore…get lost and relax. Each sculpture has a story – fascinating anecdotes – you must get the audio guide to switch on and off at your leisure.
Lunch at Pepa e Nando in Grottaferrata http://www.peppaenando.com
Via Roma 4/6
Grottaferrata Tel. 06 9459989
Lunch. This was big news and only 20 minutes away from the gardens. We arrived late for our booking and they could not have been more welcoming. We began an afternoon of indulgent food tasting and wine drinking – in my opinion the best way to spend an afternoon after so much outside strolling in the morning.
The curiosity shop style décor and fabulous hospitality was only outdone by the food. Look at this menu and allow them to recommend food and wine (from Frescati down the road) and enjoy pastries from the bakery at the back.
Millefoglie di bentagliati, baccalà e radicchio – 10,00
Rocher di trippa – 12,00
Salmone – 12,00
Cheesecake pomodoro e alici – 10,00
Rapa e wasabi – 10,00
Cacio pepe e bottarga- 14,00
Gnocchi di castagne e piccione – 14,00
Tagliolini carciofi e guanciale – 12,00
Mortadella e scampi – 12,00
Patanegra – 18,00
Filetto di manzo e carciof0 – 24,00
Baccalà, sedano candito, pomodoro secco – 16,00
Ricciola, insalata liquida, giardiniera – 18,00
Salmone cocco e wasabi – 16,00
Ricotta e pere- 7,00
Cioccolato bianco e pistacchio- 7,00
Arachidi – 7,00
Sabbioso – 7,00
Tiramisù e marroni – 7,00
After that and before you drive back to Rome legally… there are many other wonderful hill top villages to explore each with their own fabulous ‘Chateau’ or Abbey. I would whole heartedly suggest leaving Rome for a day and exploring further into this winderful countryside