What better way to spend a Saturday afternoon than visit a quaint Italian town like Nemi?
I am absolutely in love with flowered Italian terraces. When strolling through picturesque cities such as this one, I always catch my gaze drifting upward. I can't help it.
dusk at Nemi's volcanic lake
This country village, just 45-minutes outside of Rome, is known for everything strawberry: strawberry tarts and pastries, jams and soaps, and of course, fragolina. Think limocello. Now imagine the strawberry version and you've got fragolina. The creamy variety of fragolina, while equally delicious, unfortunately bears a frightening resemblance to Pepto Bismol.
So sorry for this, dear vegetarian and vegan friends. I will say that this shop was a very smelly place.
The region (specifically Ariccia) is also known for its porchetta--fatty roasted pork, infused with garlic and rosemary. A few thick cuts between generous slices of crusty sourdough and you've got yourself a serious sandwich. Peroni, porchetta, and view of the sunset over a volcanic lake...doesn't get much better.
Sunday morning, after a breakfast of espresso and biscotti from Nemi, the five of us piled in the car to pay a visit to the President of the Italian Republic. Well, to his palace anyway.
Welcome to il Palazzo del Quirinale
After spotting a number of large signs outside the entrance with bold red "X's" over the image of a camera, I'd say the "no photography" rule couldn't have been clearer. And having faithfully obeyed it throughout the entire interior tour like the good American sheep that I am, I was frustrated to find a slew of shameless photographers outside in the courtyard. Benito was equally confused and took it upon himself to ask a nearby officer (see below--short man on the right) if we could indeed take pictures. Just as with general traffic laws, most social codes of conduct appear to be open for discussion in Italy. And thus the not-so-surprising Italian reply? "Well, technically, photography is not allowed, but everyone is doing it, so go right ahead." Excuse me, sir? If you're not official, I don't know who is.
At least I got my photo.
Just trying to blend.
After touring the Palace, everyone had worked up quite an appetite (I will certainly not miss the post 1:30pm lunch time), and so we decided to eat at a family favorite trattoria (casual restaurant) in the Cavour area. While Cavour is an artsy fartsy district near the Colosseum, the dining ambiance embodied every Italian family restaurant stereotype you'd expect. Virginia, Benito and I ordered carbonara, Giulio: pollo e pepperoni, and Giovanna: trippa alla romana. Trippa is a very typical Roman dish that also happens to be a cow's stomach, smothered in tomato sauce. I tried so hard to hate it, which made discovering how delicious it really was that much more upsetting.
rolling fresh dough for the next batch of homemade pasta