Day Trip to Frascati
December 29th marked the 9-month anniversary of the day I left America in search of something new, something better, something a little more “me.” And 9 months later, I still have absolutely no idea what any of that actually means. But being my father’s daughter, I am a stubborn ass; I refuse to step foot back on American soil until I figure “it” out.
I’ve been in Rome now for over 4 months, and in those months I have accomplished quite a bit. I’ve mastered the public transportation system (metro, bus, tram and train), and I firmly stand behind my boss’s statement, “it’s impossible to get anywhere in less than 30 min, but you can pretty much go everywhere in an hour and a half.” I’ve scouted out the best pizza, gelato and aperitivo joints. I’ve learned the English language (and how to teach it). I’ve discovered that old Roman women have very strong opinions about wearing scarves and socks once the weather turns cold (more on this later). And most importantly, I’ve become a local – I am part of a community in this crazy city.
While I love the culture, cuisine, and chaos of urban life, after a while it sucks the energy out of me. I am the sort of person who can’t walk for too long on pavement before it wears me down; and apparently cobblestones are no exception. I have always been connected to nature; in order to recharge and maintain clarity, I need open space, fresh air, the smell of pine, and the sound of silence. During the past few months, I’ve been so preoccupied with getting myself set up that I forgot to seek out my retreat, and that lack of “me time” was really starting to weigh heavily.
So with that in mind, I decided to celebrate my 9-month anniversary with a day trip to one of the small towns outside of Rome. As I am officially in the business of not making plans, my approach to a “non-plan” for a day trip went something like this:
- Look at a map.
- Find small towns around Rome, preferably on the regional train line.
- Pick one that looks familiar (or throw a dart, whichever is least likely to result in injury)
- Wake up earlier than 9am and go to the train station.
No plan, no research, no agenda. Wandering at its finest.
The Choice: Frascati.
Things I Knew about Frascati:
- Most vini della casa – house wines – in Roman restaurants are from this area
- There is apparently a local obsession with Porchetta, no idea why.
Wine and Pork? Okay, twist my arm.
A 30-minute train ride and 1.90 euro later, I found myself in a quiet town perched high in the hills southeast of Rome. Frascati is darling – local artisans sell their goods along the main street, alleyways wind into small piazzas, locals take an afternoon stroll at what seems to be a snail’s pace. And best of all, waiters & restaurant owners don’t hassle you claiming that theirs is the “best pasta/panino/pizza/gelato… in town.”
Life in Frascati appears to be a bit more mellow and peaceful, not unlike what I experienced in Lucca over the summer. It’s the way of life that we Americans always have in our mind when we think of Italy: la Dolce Vita e Dolce Far Niente – the sweet life and the sweetness of doing nothing. Frascati was precisely the breath of fresh mountain air that I’ve been craving; I can now say that I’ve found my retreat from Rome.
Nine months and still going strong: Onward!
Oh, the wine and porchetta were both phenomenal = Happy Katie.