Having just returned from spending 3 weeks in Rome, you’d think I would be writing about the amazing things we saw and did. But not now!
Our stay in Rome this trip was made very special by two new friendships made on Facebook. Gareth Jones introduced us to Josephine Wennenholm via Facebook and Wendy Holloway is another of my like-minded FB friends living just outside of Rome.
Jo Wennenholm and I had been planning a get-together to celebrate Gareth, who we lost in July and who was planning on meeting up with everyone when we got to Rome. So, a couple of days after we arrived we met up with Jo who had kindly set aside the day in her busy schedule to show us around her area of Rome, the Castelli Romani with its many hilltop towns. We began the day with a tour of an outdoor market, did a drive-by of the Villa Aldobrandini, a stunning example of early Italian Baroque architecture originally constructed in 1550 with it’s gorgeous “Water Theatre” (sadly, the fountains are not working), designed by Orazio Olivieri. Then a walk around and in the 16th century Park Hotel Villa Grazoli, formerly a Cardinal’s residence. It was here that we decided we needed to become millionaires fast so we could retire here in luxury! We made a quick stop in Marino for a “porchetta” tasting at Il Norcino Bernabei…the porchetta was still warm from the oven. We left smacking lips full of porky-herby flavours; simply outstanding porchetta. We get why Gabriele Bonci sells it at his Panificio Bonci on via Trionfale in Prati!
We wound up our tour in Frascati sitting outside, sipping wine at a favourite enoteca of Jo’s, with her husband, who had joined us, watched the sun go down and then headed back to their home for a fantastic dinner with their family. How lovely is that?? We know Gareth would have approved!
Jo has a blog “Frascati Cooking-That’s Amore” has a cooking school and is involved in promoting the Castelli among other things! She is the perfect host!
Wendy Holloway of Flavor of Italy had emailed us to make arrangements for a day-trip to Umbria. Wendy and Jo organized this excursion, which came about because my Joe wanted to buy some difficult to find Sagrantino wine. The town of Montefalco, a town we visited in 2008, is where you’ll find it and the Arnaldo Caprai Winery is the place for some of the best! Wendy made arrangements with chef Salvatore Denaro, who’s at the helm of the kitchens at the winery, to meet up with us in Montefalco and from there we piled into our vehicles. Joe insisted on joining Salvatore in his Ape for the short drive to the winery to enjoy apertivi served in the tasting room. It’s time for lunch in Bevagna, a short drive from Montefalco, where Salvatore had made all the arrangements at Osteria Antiche Sere. You know when you see those photos of a group of people sitting outside at a big long table laden with amazing food and bottles of wine and you wish you were there…well we were there! And it just happened to be Porcini/Truffle season! The wine flowed, we ate frittata with truffles, tonnarelli pasta with porcini, huge grilled pieces of fresh porcini and the best crostata ever. We all talked and fumbled along in broken Italian or broken English (thank goodness Jo and Wendy speak both). The weather was perfect… until later in the evening, when on the drive back it really began to rain. But Jo persevered into the dark wet night and got us all back safely to the Montebello train station.
We were totally amazed with and how generous and hospitable Jo and Wendy were! Here’s to new friends. Grazie mille for adding that special something to our trip to Rome! And a nod to Facebook for making these connections possible.
They say a change is as good as a rest – well, spending time with you turned out to be a ‘little holiday’ for me, loads of fun and being in the moment, refreshment for the soul (as for the body … well, could we have had a nicer lunch!). Thank you so much Phyllis and Joe, and Wendy and Salvatore! And not forgetting Victoria, Wendy’s intern who had to put up with all the chatter and opinionated inputs of the older folk. And not forgetting the pie crust of the crostata at the Osteria Antiche Sere. Three egg yolks, 1 whole egg, 250g butter, 500g flour, lemon zest and pinch of salt as I recall. Right?
As they say…no, thank you! It’s definitely a day that will remain in our memories as will you and your family…and to be invited into your home… that was so special! I cannot believe you have the ingredients for that crostata crust! Well…yes I suppose I can being as how my Italian is so darned limited. If we lived nearer to each other I’ve a feeling it would improve greatly! Joe and I only hope that we will see you on this side of the pond before too long!