Spend a day exploring Ariccia, the home of Porchetta, only a short drive from the hustle and bustle of Rome. From my town, Albano Laziale, you can reach Ariccia in a few minutes. By car you’ll pass over the famous Ariccia bridge, a monumental viaduct built in the mid-19th century. Head to the main square where the imposing and picturesque Chigi palace is located. With only 19,000 people calling this town home, today it is renowned for its various artisanal gastronomic products. In fact, it is so popular during the summer months as a foodie hotspot that people living in Rome and its surrounding towns head to Ariccia to sample the local delicacies.
While the temperature in summer can reach up to 40 degrees, the Alban Hills provide a constant and pleasant cool breeze. The perfect setting to enjoy local dishes! So, let’s take a look at some authentic Ariccia dishes!
Dining al Fresco in Ariccia
First, you will need to find a place to dine al fresco, as you will want to enjoy that cool breeze I mentioned earlier. Look out for a fraschetta and start with a litre of house white wine or ‘novello’ wine. This is generally served in a glass carafe. In Italy, when dining at a fraschetta, wine is served by the litre, not by the bottle. Or, if you fancy something sweeter and sparkling, I’d recommend Romanella, a local red wine. Now get ready to indulge in an amazing culinary experience over the next couple of hours.
Start by ordering a selection of appetisers. This can include seasoned dried pork (or coppiette), hand-cut cured ham, dry sausages, Pecorino Romano and artisanal sheep or cow cheese, and the famous and most delicious porchetta – an entire pork seasoned with black pepper, herbs, roasted with the skin on and cooked for at least 8 hours over wood.
The Festival of Porchetta
Porchetta is one of two of the most iconic culinary products from the region of Lazio. The other is Pecorino Romano, a hard, salty Italian cheese made with sheep’s milk. Once cooked, porchetta is served sliced on a sheet of paper with the most amazing artisanal bread also cooked on wood for an amazing aroma and crispness. Since 1950, we celebrate the Sagra della Porchetta, a festival held in September to celebrate this delicacy.
Oh, and you’ll not want to miss out on the side dishes either! Porchetta is typically served with Roman-style artichokes cooked with mint and garlic, sauteed chicory with chilly and puntarelle, a type of raw chicory with anchovy paste and garlic. You can then choose your favourite pasta dish from the many available such as pappardelle with wild boar sauce, bucatini alla amatriciana (here the main ingredient is pancetta), pasta cacio e pepe (with creamed Pecorino cheese and black pepper sauce), or spaghetti alla carbonara (a sauce with eggs) among many others. My personal favourite has got to be pasta cacio e pepe or pappardelle with wild boar sauce! Simply divine! Oh my, I think I’m hungry now!!
Providing that you have some space left, end the meal with some sausages or arrosticini (small bite-size pieces of mutton or lamb pierced by a skewer and roasted on a barbeque) and a good “amaro” (Italian for bitter), which is usually an herbal liqueur commonly consumed as an after-meal digestif.
At this point, you may well feel like taking a nap, so a strong espresso is much needed before embarking upon a slow walk (or passeggiata in Italian), until you reach the belvedere (viewpoint) located in Piazzale Giuseppe Mazzini. Here you will be able to rest for a few minutes, capture your favourite moment on camera or simply admire the beautiful green Vallericcia valley.
There is much more to discover in Ariccia, but I do hope I’ve given you some travel inspiration for your first visit.
Have a good trip everyone!
By for now,