“You must try fario!” our host exclaimed. “Brown trout love our Amiene River,” he continued, “and they thrive only in such pure waters as these.” Alberto Foppoli, director of the Parco Naturale Regionale dei Monti Simbruini near Subiaco, told our group of walkers that the river’s pristine qualities are typical—and important—characteristics for the region’s flora and fauna, and for the food Lazio produces. Our guided walk along the river was a warm-up for the generous Lazio hospitality we would find all along our way to Montecassino.
The park director and several rangers joined us at Nero’s Villa in Subiaco, where the Caminno di San Benedetto hugs the Amiene, and walked with us for a morning. It was one of many opportunities to spend time with locals as we passed through the Lazio countryside on our journey with Italian Wonder Ways. Our walk also took us into hilltop villages, introducing us not only to the flavors of the region, but also many of the people who prepared and served our meals along the way.
Lazio hospitality basics
A simple menu with sublime flavors
Central Italy favors simple pasta sauces, roast meats and pork products. Everywhere we went along the Cammino, we were sustained by hearty staples, such as ample antipasti, pasta dishes, soups and meaty main courses. Porchetta, prosciutto, salumi and mortadella graced practically every table, along with a variety of cheeses.
Starters such as the simple-but-sublime cacio e pepe, and savory soups pairing broken pasta with beans or chickpeas, called maltagliati hereabouts, hit just the right note for hungry walkers. It was Lazio hospitality at its most nourishing.
Before we visited sacred sites near Veroli, we stopped for luncheon at the Hotel Relais Filonardi. Our meal there featured a three-course meal from the kitchen of Mario Quattrociocchi (pictured above). The fare was substantial, as well as elegant.
In Trevi nel Lazio, a buffet lunch in Castello Caetani featured a copious spread of antipasti, cured meats and cheeses. In Roccasecca, the mother-and-son team of La Locanda del Castello met us for a tour through the restored castle, then served up a fortifying buffet that included several Lazio standards, made in local style. The final meal of our trip was a fine dinner sponsored by the four regions launching Italian Wonder Ways, and featuring the dishes for which each region is best known. Lazio’s contribution honored the town of Amatriciana, so badly hit in the earthquakes of August 2016.
The wines of Lazio
The white wines of Lazio are well regarded, and we enjoyed several fine whites from Frascati and sunny nearby hills. However, for me the most memorable wines along the Cammino were still the reds, and the best of these, DOCG Cesanese del Piglio. The formulation for this elegant wine dates back to the days of medieval popes, and the grapes themselves were known to the Romans(!). We were first served a rustic cesanese at a trailside lunch stop in the Parco Naturale Regionale dei Monti Simbruini. A few days later in Veroli, the bitter finish of Cesanese del Piglio was perfect with our main course of lamb chops scottadito (“burned fingers” lamb chops).
Welcome to Lazio!
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Grazie mille di tutto, Visit Lazio , and the cooks and servers who welcomed us to meal after wonderful meal on the Cammino di San Benedetto. Thank you to Simone Frignani, for developing this Wonder Way and for being a great guide and companion!