Festa dei cacciatori - Sant'Oreste

A few years ago, I was lucky to be in Sant'Oreste (where the better half is from) while there was a festival on. Sant'Oreste is great for festivals, they have a few different ones over the year, and the whole town gets together for a few days to eat, drink and party. I really enjoy all of them.

The Festa dei cacciatori (party of the hunters) is, I guess, some kind of sagre, i.e. local food festival (although I can't find it on this list of Sagre in Lazio). It's usually held in May or June (although this year it's been over the first weekend in July - i.e. right now), and consists of a big marquee (where they have seats and tables lined up like a beer-hall) and a stage, covering their main car park just underneath the main gate to the old town. Basically, you take a seat with friends and wait for someone to take your order. As it's the hunter's festival, dishes on offer revolve around wild boar (cinghiale) and hare (lepre) and are reasonably priced (4-5EUR) for a decent sized dish. Local wine is also available (1EUR a beaker) and tends to be very light and crisp (they tend to be between 7-11%), along with grappa and other local moonshines.

It's a great party, and usually lasts the whole weekend. I can heartily recommend it. All the meat is caught locally (pretty much from same mountain that Sant'Oreste is perched on), and it's a great way to get introduced to local culture, and see a part of real Italy, rather than a tourist trap. I'll mention Sant'Oreste a lot on this blog, as it's the town I visit the most and I genuinely think it has a lot to offer. Obviously, the easiest way to get there is via a car (up SS3 - via flaminia from Rome), although it does have it's own train station (with trains from Piazzale Flaminio -next to Piazza del Popolo, four metro stops from stazione termini on metro A), and is a short bus ride from Stimigliano, where there is another train station (with trains from Tiburtina in Rome)

Sant'Oreste has a few other sagre and feste throughout the year, with the main one being the Festa della Madonna, on the last Sunday in May. Check out this Sant'Oreste Pro-loco website (in Italian) for further information.

Calcata - Art on the edge of a cliff

 (Photo by Claudio G. Pisani taken from the Calcata website)

Perched on the top of a volcanic plug an hour north of Rome (just off SS3, via flaminia), Calcata is described by the New York Times as 'the grooviest village in Italy'. It's home to a community of about 100 artists, bohemians, aging hippies and 'New Age types' (not my words). We liked it as it's a bit quirky and has stunning views. It's well worth a visit, especially if you're heading that way anyway (I wouldn't recommend it for a whole day, but it's fun for a few hours).

Queue dodge the Italian way!!!

Oh yes!! Tourists wanting to visit any of Italy's top 40 sites of cultural interest will soon have the chance the dodge the ticket queues by buying their admission in advance on their mobile phones (currently only the iPhone, although they claim they will open this up to other smartphones as well at some point). [Read more]

Getting to Rome from the UK

Well, the first step to becoming a Roman is to actually go there. Here, I'll explain how to get to Rome from the UK by plane.

Rome has two airports - Leonardo da Vinci, the main airport commonly referred to as 'Fiumicino', is 30km (~18 miles) out to the southwest of Rome. While Ciampino, a smaller airport, is 15km (~9 miles) southeast of the city.

Fiumicino airport:

Airlines flying from the UK to Fiumicino include: British Airways, Alitalia and EasyJet. They fly from London Heathrow, London Gatwick, London Stansted, London City, London Luton, Manchester, Birmingham and Edinburgh.

Fiumicino to Rome

To get to Rome, the Leonardo Express train can be taken to Stazione Termini (the main train station in Rome) and costs around 10 euro. It arrives at and leaves from platform 27 at Stazione Termini and takes about 30 minutes. If you prefer to drive, Fiumicino is connected to Rome by an autostrada. Follow the signs for Rome out of the complex and exit from the autostrada at EUR, following the target sign for the centre. From there, Via Cristoforo Colombo will take you directly into the centre.

Ciampino airport:

Ciampino is the airport I know best, as this is the one I use from Stansted. Ciampino can be reached from London Stansted (with Ryanair), London Gatwick (with Easyjet), Bristol (Easyjet), Glasgow Prestwick (Ryanair), Liverpool (Ryanair), Edinburgh (Ryanair) and Nottingham East Midlands (Ryanair) among others.

Ciampino to Rome

Stazione Termini in Rome can be reached by Terravision bus for 8 euro return (children under four go free). The journey takes 40 minutes. See the Terravision website for more information and to reserve tickets (they might be more expensive if you just turn up). Cars can be rented from Hertz, who have a deal with Ryanair and are found in the terminal.


Welcome to my blog!!

So let's get started! Why am I starting a blog? What makes me so special that people will spend time reading my blog? Well, I'm writing a blog for a number of reasons.

Firstly, it's somewhere to leave my thoughts - I find writing things down helps me think about things and structure my life.

Secondly, I'm learning about Italy and I figured other people are too, and could perhaps help me understand the 'un-understandables' of a foreign country. It's very easy to get the wrong end of the stick and very easy to resort to stereotypes and taking everything on face value.

I'm writing this blog as I think other people in similar situations would like to know that they are not alone (as I would like to know I'm not alone!). That kinda answers the second question, why am I so special. Well, I'm not, but when, five years ago, I met the love of my life and realized I would have to get to know Italy and Italian culture pretty darn well, I would have appreciated having read a blog detailing someone else's experiences, and knowing other people are going through similar travails. So here it is, a blog on how an Englishman becomes a little more Italian, or gets in trouble trying. Hope you like it!