Fabulous Fondi

Everyone knows that the best explorers don't do everything alone. They ask for help and advice along the way, not just from fellow travelers but also from the locals. An area I don't know so well is just south of Rome, the province of Latina. Here, guest blogger Rick Sotis gives us a personal tour of Fondi, a small town in the province of Latina, where he and his wife have a small holiday home.

Fondi is a magical little town located midway between Rome and Naples about 8 miles from the Mediterranean Sea. My life became entwined with this beautiful city many years ago because it is the place where my grandparents were born. My wife, Mia, my father, Giacomino and myself have visited Fondi twice in the last year and a half. There are a few things to boast about to you in and around Fondi. So as your tour guide, get ready for a written and pictorial holiday. Here we go!
Sunday, the archetypal day of rest, is anything but that for the vendors and customers at a wonderful outdoor market that covers everything from pillows to breads to pesce galour plus everything in between. The market has a hussle and bussle atmosphere of a larger city, but the town of  Fondi itself has a smaller, more intimate setting. Fondi, as does any old Italian city, has great cobble stone streets, except that these stones are so shiny they remind you of tiles you would see inside your casa. Fondi is also vicino (near) other great towns such as Terracina, Gaeta, Formia, Naples, Anzio, Rome and all are within an hour by train, bus or automobile, give or take.  It has one of the largest vegetable export markets in Europe.  Seafood in Fondi is such a wonderful thing being so close to the Mediterranean.  Fresh fish and anything seafood is in abbondanza in this city.  The locals, called Fondani, are the most friendly and accepting people in Italy, so warm and so full of love.  Going to Fondi is like going to your hometown except that only a few residents speak English.  Do yourself a favor, and make every attempt to brush up on your basic Italian, and your skills at charades before you go and you’ll do just fine.  If you don’t speak Italian though, you can stop by and meet Enzo, the English speaking owner of Vicolo di M’Blo, a fantastic ristorante in Fondi, where his food speaks for itself no matter what language you speak.
Rick, restaurant owner Enzo, and Rick's father Giacomino enjoy an after lunch chat
One of the great places that I would recommend to go to is the Piazza because there are plenty of restaurants, bars and gelaterie there and this is where most of the local Fondani go to have caffé or vino or to eat or just solve the problems of the world.
La Piazza, the main square and heart of the town
Mia relaxes by a fountain in the main square
If you love churches you’re going to love Fondi. They have Santa Maria, San Francesco, and San Pietro.  While we were there this year, we were fortunate enough to stumble on La Festa della Madonna del Cielo which was celebrated by La Chiesa di Santa Maria. The festival began on June 5 and finished on June 13th.  During the festa, la chiesa di Santa Maria holds Mass everyday with special concerts and a great processione where the statue of the Madonna is paraded though out the streets of Fondi on the final Sunday of the festival.  The city really embraces this festival which makes for a very spiritual atmosphere all week long.
La chiesa di San Pietro
La Chiesa di Santa Maria

There are two beaches that are in close proximity. Fondi Beach is laid back with a few restaurants and hotels and then there is the more famous beach of Sperlonga.  Sperlonga is one of the most famous beaches along the Mediterranean and the city is just breathtaking. It's built into the side of a mountain overlooking the ocean.  It also contains the Grotto of Tiberius where he would come from Rome for Rest and Relaxation, but also for a little orgy.
Fondi beach
If shopping is your thing, no matter what you are looking for you’ll find along the high street of Claudio Appio Way located in the heart of Old Fondi.  From perfumes, jewelry, books to borse and high fashion clothing for men and women, Claudio Appio Way has it all. Shopping is a delight in this quaint little town with many upscale stores that are quite fashionable (but then again aren’t all Italian shops quite fashionable). Two such fine shops are Giorgio DiRusso’s (opened in 1884, can you believe it?) and Piero DiRusso’s Trend which can be found on the main street of Claudio Appio Way.
anfiteatro di Fondi

The town has also opened a new anfiteatro for concerts, plays and other upcoming productions.  It’s a lovely addition to the town and will only liven up the already lively area near the Piazza.
Albergo dei Fondi
Giacomino's 91st Birthday party
One of the best places in town for dining is a quaint little place called Albergo dei Fiori and is located in Old Fondi (antica citta`) and just off the main high street.  Host Rita will serve up whatever it is you would like and also has a small hotel. I highly recommend it for a rest and refueling. Rita hosted a party for my father in honor of his 91st birthday. This was one of two parties for Pops.  We had the most incredible variety of antipasti, insalate, pesce, and pasta.
Paella at the Bourbon St. Pub
Your hosts, Umberto and Liviana

Another of our favorite establishments is the Bourbon Street Pub, and yes there is a bit of Americana here in this lovely Italian town.  Hosts Umberto and Liviana make this spot a very relaxing, festive and fun place. At Bourbon Street, there is always something happening, whether it be karaoke, music from live local artists or the latest recorded music. They have a great variety of beers and wines with an excellent menu for food.  Umberto provided a beautiful Paella for my father’s 91st birthday and it was molto deliziosa. Your hosts will provide you with the southern Italian flair of Naples with a touch of Northern distinction of Venice where Umberto and Liviana are from, respectively.

Just outside of Fondi, there is one of the oldest monasteries in this area called San Magno. It has been opened to the public in the last couple of years, but there is still a lot of restoration going on there. It is a beautiful place, and since it’s cropped midway up a mountain, it provides a beautiful view of the area as well. Fondi also has a castle. The Castello di Fondi was built in 1319 to protect the Palazzo Baronale that housed the Princess Giulia Gonzaga.  Her image is pictured around town since she is a large part of the local history.

For us, coming to Fondi is like coming home. This place is a part of my heritage and my life. I remain connected since I have family here and an apartment which we use for our vacation as well as for a holiday rental. You may view more photos of our family, our apartment and our Fondi on Facebook at Casa di Sotis Italia.

We hope you’ve enjoyed your virtual vacation and guided tour of this magical little town known as Fondi.

Ciao for now!

Rick Sotis.


Photo credits:

All other photos in this article are copyright Rick Sotis.