The resplendent Villa Aldobrandini — Photo courtesy of Francesco Crippa
Sometimes, you've just got to get away from the hustle and bustle of Rome. Though the city is absolutely beautiful, it can also be loud, crazy and chaotic. When enough is enough, and you’re looking for a refreshing retreat away from the Eternal City, Frascati is your place.
Just a half hour away fom Rome, Frascati is a splendid little hillside town located in the Castelli Romani (Roman castles) area known for its beautiful villas. It's not only popular among tourists; Romans themselves love coming here on the weekends for an afternoon or evening stroll. The town is easily reached by a local train from Rome’s Termini train station. What’s even more convenient is that the trains run to and from Frascati every hour and cost €1.90 each way.
Frascati is perched atop a hill offering tourists and locals fresh air, good food and captivating views of surrounding towns and Rome from a distance. About 100,000 people live in this town, which is best known for its locally produced wine.
Once you reach the town by train, you’ll want to follow the crowds up to the center of the city (or the main ‘piazza'), which is where virtually everyone meets for coffee, a snack or an afternoon stroll. From the main piazza, off in the distance, you’ll notice the resplendent Villa Aldobrandini designed by Giacomo Della Porta for the nephew of a pope. Unfortunately, this particular villa is closed off to the public, however the lush gardens can be visited with a special permit. On the other side of the piazza, you’ll notice a balcony-like terrace with stunning views.
Also worth checking out, is the nearby Villa Torlonia, which was once important until it was destroyed in the war. Today, it serves as a public park where one can admire the gardens and the beautiful fountain, the Teatro delle Acque (water theatre) designed by Carlo Maderno. After you’re done strolling and admiring, it’s time to head into town and to the centro of the city for lunch.
Indulge in Frascati's porchetta — Photo courtesy of Ruben CharlesHead over to Piazza del Mercato where you’ll see various trucks selling coldcuts, cheeses, mozzarella and porchetta. If you come to Frascati, you must try the porchetta; it's another reason why this town is so famous.
For lunch, you’ll want to do as the locals do, and get it to go. Order a bunch of cold cuts (affettati), cheese (formaggi), bread (pane), mozzarella and pork (porchetta). Feel free to order other tasty items such as olives or sun-dried tomatoes (pomodori secchi). Yum!
After you’ve grabbed your lunch goods, head over to Piazza dell’Olmo where you’ll find one of the oldest cantinas in Frascati, Osteria dell’Olmo. Here, it’s very traditional for locals to bring the porchetta and cheese they just bought from the trucks and make themselves a sandwich while sipping on some wonderful Frascati house wine.
Once seated, the waitress will ask what you would like to order. Only wine and water here. Make sure to specify how much wine and what type of wine you want, which is typically della casa (house wine). You can order either half of a liter (mezzo litro) or a whole liter (un litro) of either white (vino bianco) or red (vino rosso) wine. After she’s brought your wine, it’s time to make that porchetta sandwich and eat. Buon appetito!