The Lazio region of Italy
La Tuscia is full of Etruscan rupestrian tombs. There are so many that local archeologists feel it is safe to say that this zone was probably the centre of the Etruscan civilization when at its height. Compare this to the geographical center which many have pinned to Murlo in the province of Siena, Tuscany. You may have visited the Necropolis of Cerveteri, but we especially like Castel D'Asso a short drive from the Termi dei Papi near Viterbo.
Located in a country famous for its coffee culture, Rome offers some of the best cafés in the world. If you find yourself in the Eternal city any time soon, be sure not to miss some of our favorite local places to get a caffeine fix.
Via dei Condotti, 86
No visit to Rome would be complete without a visit to the famous Caffé Greco, renowned for its reputation of attracting artists, intellectuals, poets, and musicians since the days of the Grand Tour. The décor of this elegant café reminds one of a Viennese tea room, while its romantic history will conjure up images of penniless bohemians endlessly scratching away in a corner. Before going, be sure to take some time to glance at the café’s website, which offers a more in-depth description of the many prominent figures that often frequented the café, including Keats, Shelley and Byron, among many others.
This dish featured in the 'Chef Secrets' activity of Taste of Roma and we were invited to try it ourselves in the company of Chef Daniele Usai of Ristorante Il Tino, Ostia near Rome. It was a fun hour of cooking in a show set up. The image above is the final product by Chef Daniele himself, while you have to get to the end of our short video to see how it turned out for us. It may not look the same, but it was just a delicious!
You may not be able to get to the annual artichoke festival in Ladispoli held in mid April, but make a note that Roman artichokes are rounded, and not pointed.
From the website of the Pro Loco of Ladispoli we learn that the local delicacy can also be fried, boiled, grilled, 'saltato' with olive oil, and even stuffed with tuna and shrimps.
Whatever you do, don't keep them in the fridge. Eat them fresh. This classic Carciofi all Romana recipe is simple and delicious, if you get it right!
4 large artichokes, salt and pepper, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, mint leaves or dried mint, one lemon, white wine vinegar.
'Tis The Season. March is when the artichoke season is in full swing in Rome, where you will find the famous fried delicacy in almost every restaurant in the city. The history of this dish has been lost in time, although their Italian denomination (Carciofi alla Giudia), meaning "Jewish-style artichokes" traces the recipe back to the Jewish quarter of Rome.
At any rate, artichokes were already being eaten in Ancient Rome and in fact weren't introduced to America until Italian immigrants arrived in the 1900s. Roman artichokes are renowned for being particularly large and tender, and come March, visitors to the eternal city will notice the plate dominating daily special signs throughout the region. Incorporate a taste of Italy into your own home with our favorite local recipes:
Abbacchio al forno is the classic Easter main course dish in Rome and Lazio, but not exclusively. The success of the dish is in the choice of lamb or 'agnello' in Italian and 'abbacchio' in local Roman dialect. If you are squeamish look away now ... but young, fresh and tender are best. Consult your local butcher.
1.5 kg baby lamb, 1kg potatoes, clove of garlic, ham, rosemary, glass of white wine, olive oil, salt and pepper.
Taken from the brochure of the 'Sagra del Fagiolo' by the Pro Loco of the ancient Etruscan city of Sutri. As well as the recipe here we have tracked down a further 3 bean recipes from the town. They are 'facioli alla ghiottona', facioli alla zozzona' and 'facioli alla poverina'. The Food Festival of Facioli (the spelling in formal Italian is fagioli!) is normally held in August and visitors can also taste other typical dishes of La Tuscia here such as salsicce, cotiche and gnocchetti.
Our image above is of a bean dish we enjoyed at Ristorante La Piazzetta in Calcata. The beans are gluten free and sourced locally from Azienda Agricola Capati near Civita Castellana, Viterbo.