When in Rome (do as the Romans do!)

I have just spent five days in a beautiful little place called Trevignano Romano. It has a small population of about 5000 people and is nestled next to lake Bracciano which is an extinct volcano about a 40 minute drive northwest from Rome. It’s where all the Romans go to escape the hustle and bustle of the fast moving city. There is a different pace of life here. The locals are laid back, friendly people who welcome you with open arms. 

We stayed at a little B and B called La Terrazza sul Lago on Via della Rena. ( www.laterazzasullago.com ) It is situated right next to the lake and about a five to ten minute walk along the promenade into the town centre.  We were fortunate to have one of the front facing rooms which had a large terrace and views to die for. I believe there are only three rooms in total. Two with the lake view and one at the rear of the property.


We were greeted on our first night by Carlos. He was a welcoming chap although didn’t speak English. This wasn’t a problem for us as I had had a few Italian classes once upon a time and managed to get the gist of what he was saying!

Once settled in and showered we put on our glad rags and hit the town. We strolled along the promenade taking in the views. They really do take your breath away.


We decided to find a bar where we could sample the local wines and beers. We stumbled across Le Ballon…. The lady who greeted us was I think the owner. She was very cheery of nature and helped us with our drink choices. I opted for a chilled glass of a local white wine and Steve was seduced by the homemade wheat beer that she offered. The wine was tasty and Steve was bowled over by the standard of the beer. ( Although he has had better since! More about that later! ) We didn’t expect the Italians to take beer making to the next level. We thought wine was their thing … How we were wrong!  


With most Italian bars you order drinks you get a selection of nibbles that are included in the price. At Le Ballon we were offered potato chips, peanuts and toasted bread drizzled with the most delicious olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt. We sat and enjoyed our drinks in the evening sun whilst choosing somewhere to have dinner. We use trip advisor all the time when we are away. We find it invaluable and rarely get let down with our choices. On this occasion we decided to visit a restaurant called La Botte Piena on Via Mazzini. It was voted in the top ten out of fifty restaurants that have had trip advisor reviews. 

We shared a delicious cheese plate with local honey for our antipasti. You drizzle the honey over the cheeses and enjoy.. It really was scrumptious and I will be recreating this at home in Tara’s Busy Kitchen! So simple to do but you would never know it by the taste experience. 


I had homemade fettuccine with clams and prawns with a sort of pesto sauce. It was tasty but didn’t blow my mind. As a keen cook myself I could reproduce this dish just as well at home. Steve had some lightly seasoned fried fish from the lake. Again, it was tasty but not mind boggling! Everything was well cooked though and our waiter was very nice. He spoke a mix of English and Italian so for us it was great. I understood most of his descriptions etc. He helped us with both our wine and food choices. We always like to try local produce when we are away.. No air miles and the fish pretty much jump out of the lake onto your plate!


After a good nights sleep we woke up to our first breakfast. Roberta the owner and her mother were in charge of this. There was a good selection of cold meats, cheeses, pastries, cereals etc. Also, it is commen in Italy to have cake for breakfast! It usually takes the form of a tart or flan. This particular one had a pastry base with an almond and creme patisserie sort of filling. Of course I had a slice.. In fact I had two!! ( And both slices were very much enjoyed! ) Whilst feasting on our breakfast we managed to catch up with Roberta. She was very helpful and gave us plenty of ideas of places worthy of a visit relatively near by. As we had a hire car she gave us a few maps to help us on our way too. She couldn’t have been more helpful.

 We spent our first day getting to know the town. We decided to climb up the hill in the old part of town to the ruins of an ancient fortress that over looks Trevignano Romano. It was a beautifully hot and clear day so enabled us to get some wonderful views across the lake to another town called Bracciano. On the way up we met this fella who I named Mr Fluffer! ( crazy cat lady strikes again! )


 There were wild flowers everywhere on our walk.. Absolutely stunning!


On the way down we explored the old town and stopped for a lake side gelato.. So good! I had pear and Steve had tiramisu! Yum-my!!


Evening two had us visit another bar called Rock island pub.. I was a bit dubious I have to say because the name wasn’t very Italian but I was proved wrong. We had a lovely pre dinner drink there. Again, I had a chilled glass of white wine and Steve tried another local ale. This he said was out of this world. I tried a little and I have to say it was really good. To me it had a slight hint of passion fruit about it.. Strange I know but it really worked. It was chilled nicely and to please Steve was served in a pint glass! ( little things as they say! ) I believe it was an IPA.. Not an Indian pale ale but an Italian pale ale!! Once again served with some lovely nibbles.. The olives were amazing!

Dinner was at a restaurant called Ristorantino Rustico on Viale G. Garibaldi. ( www.ristorantinorustico.it ) It was a busy little place. Number twelve out of fifty restaurants on trip advisor. Steve opted for a pasta dish with tomatoes and fish from the lake and I had a mixed fried lake fish platter with a side salad. 

Steve followed this with a very good tiramisu.. I had to try a bit didn’t I??!!



Day three was an outing in the car to Tivoli and the villa d’Este. More about this in another blog. Let me just say the gardens of the villa blew me away! Once we got back we decided to have a mooch around the newer part of town. There were a few bars and restaurants there too although us being typical tourists didn’t take into account it was siesta time so most of the shops etc were closed! Oops!

 For our pre dinner drinks we tried a place called El Pab. A cute little bar with seating down by the lake. Once again I sampled a vino Bianco and Steve went for one of the three IPA’s they had on offer. This particular one was called Wit IPA. It again had a slight passion fruit tang to it which I really enjoyed. Once again he was pleasantly surprised by the quality. So much so that he went back for more! 

For our supper we tried Gens Trebonia on via Garibaldi. ( www.genstrebonia.it ) They bill themselves as a tavern, public house and trendy hangout. This I would say is true but also a darn good restaurant too! I sampled aubergine Parmesana and Steve went for the ribs ( pork and lamb ) with rosemary potatoes. The aubergine Parmesana was amazing. I would highly recommend it. A vegetarian choice but Steve as a meat eater said it was divine too. So much so I sent my compliments to the chef! Steve enjoyed his ribs. I believe they were marinated in a local beer which I guess helped to keep them tender and juicy. For dessert Steve plumped for the tiramisu again and I fancied an espresso. The coffee was very good as you would expect being in Italy! We did a dessert comparison on the tiramisu from the previous night! I preferred the tiramisu from Ristorantino Rustica as I found it had a slightly looser consistency but Steve preferred this one. 

Although the food was scrummy I think the waiter/owner made it for us. He was really passionate about the food and wine he served. People like that exude an energy and love for what they do and it rubs off on the likes of me! Once again a good trip advisor find. Gens is in the top ten of restaurants in Trevignano Romano. They also had free wifi which was a bit of a godsend. 


Day four saw us hop in the car again to Viterbo. A walled medieval town ( with an ugly modern periphery ). It became the home of the popes during the 13th century when there were battles in Rome. It is famous for having one of the best preserved medieval quarters, a maze of narrow stone streets with arches and little piazzas with fountains. It is also famous for its free hot springs so if you fancy a dip take your bikini!


Obviously with a long day sight seeing we needed ice cream!



And we saw this little beauty as we were mooching around the medieval quarter!   


After the drive back we got ourselves into evening mode. Suited and booted we hit the town. We decided to give Le Ballon ago for dinner. We had been there earlier on in our trip for drinks. We chose it because it seemed to be the busiest place in town for a Friday night. ( and a good trip advisor review! ) We were seated at the back in what looked like part of a very old building. The walls were all made of stone. It had a nice rustic feel but with modern vibe. You can see through to the bar from the restaurant where lots of locals were enjoying their drinks listening to th DJ. 

 The menu was full of fish options.. Steve and I were happy with that being massive fish fans.. I had a dish that was simply divine. A smear of courgette/zucchini purée and then a locally caught fish called Orata rolled up and placed on the purée. I did a bit of research on the fish and it is what we would call sea bream at home. I have to say that it gave Gens ( where we went the previous night.) a run for its money. Steve plumped for mussels.. A big steaming bowl of them in a lovely sauce.. We couldn’t fault the food. 

We sampled a very local wine too.. Made and bottled in the town. Quite nice but perhaps a little dry for my pallet. A definite with food wine! So glad we tried something made so close by. Shop local, eat local and make and grow as much as possible is the Italian way. Perhaps more of us Brits should take a leaf out of their book! I try my best on the whole but could probably do more. 

Day five and the Saturday saw me celebrate my birthday. What a lucky thing to be in Italy and in Trevignano Romano. We decided to visit the Civic Museum of Archeology in the town first off. ( www.trevignanoromano.it ) The lady that greeted us was so kind and wanted to show us the most important things herself so we didn’t miss out. She spoke perfect English so was able to give us lots of facts about the exhibits. Most of the archeological finds in the first room come from a huge necropolis very near to Trevignano Romano. They are mostly examples of pottery and metalwork. The exhibits are in near perfect condition from the Etruscan age. Absolutely breath taking to think they have survived all of those centuries virtually intact. In the second room there are some very rare and prestigious finds from another site called the Tomb of the Fans. Again, these items were found very close to Trevignano Romano. Some of the items date back to the 7th century B.C. I couldn’t get over the skill in the craftsmanship. They were made over two thousand years ago and still survive after all these years. Amazing! The museum is free to enter. All that they ask is that you sign your name in their comments book. 

   After the museum we ventured through the medieval centre up to the church. The door was open when we arrived so we went in. There were some beautiful frescos on the wall.. So glad we popped in. It is definately worth a visit. You can leave a donation by the door to help with the church upkeep. There are some wonderful views of the town and lake from up there too.


After our cultural morning in Trevignano Romano we decided to hop in the car and circumnavigate the lake with Bracciano as our destination.  We visited the Castello Orsini-Odescalchi. ( www.odescalchi.it ) I believe it is where Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes got married but don’t quote me on that! A true to the fairy tales type of castle with plenty of history to be found. It’s worth a visit and costs €8.50 for adults and €4.00 for children. 

     Our last evening in trevignano Romano saw us visit Vini e Oli. It’s classed as a wine bar but they do food as well. We just had pre dinner drinks and nibbles. I had a glass of Prosecco to celebrate my birthday which was chilled beautifully and Steve had a German bottled beer. They didn’t have any Italian beers which was a shame as there seem to be so many nice ones out there available. None the less it was a blissful way to spend my birthday evening.. A glass of fizz and a view of the lake. 

 We had already decided to have dinner at Gens again. We always pick a place we have previously visited on our holidays for our last night and Gens came out as top choice. Steve decided on a pasta dish. Tagliatelle simply flavoured with lemon and garlic with a huge whole prawn on the side. I plumped for the special fish dish of the evening. I think it was the Orata fish again but this time it had a lovely fresh tomato sauce with garlic and capers. We shared a green salad that had fennel, apples and walnuts on it. We dressed it ourselves at the table with the olive oil and balsamic vinager provided. Once again a lovely evening was had.

Our last day came too soon. The weather was stunning and it made it very difficult to process the thoughts of leaving this beautiful town by the lake. We decided to have one final stroll down the promenade as we didn’t have to leave until midday to drive the 40 minutes back to Rome’s Ciampino airport.  We were so glad we did as we stumbled across a rather large market being held near the towns main piazza. It was a mishmash of different things.. Crafts, antiques, local produce, plants and flowers. I saw loads of vintage bits that I wanted. I am a bit of a magpie when it comes to vintage things, especially jewellery. I was worried about transporting them home in my luggage so they had to stay put! After the market we stopped of for a coffee by the lake before deciding to walk to the other end of the promenade. We still had plenty of time and it seemed crazy not to enjoy the last hour in the sunshine. At the furthest point near the Aqua centre they were holding a triathlon event which was in full swing when we arrived. There were many men and woman taking part. Such a great sight to see…We cheered them all on! 

        So that was the end of a great holiday. I would really recommend getting a hire car when you land in Rome and explore what Latzio has to offer. I can’t wait until I have the opportunity to return. 

Thank you for having us Trevignano Romano.


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