My father has lived in Genazzano, a beautiful walled hilltop town east and slightly south of Rome, for about 5 years now. I’ve not visited nearly enough for my taste, and I’m sure not for his either!
We are quite fortunate to have been adopted into his wife’s small but extremely generous family. From the moment we met on the terrace of their farmhouse, it was as if we had always been family. Their home in “campagna” (the countryside outside of town) is one of my favorite places to visit in the world… one of only two places that could ever take me from my beloved NYC!
On a recent visit, after spending several days alone in Rome, my father brought me directly from the train station to the house in campagna for a welcome lunch. As you can imagine, this was no simple lunch! Spaghetti with spicy red clam sauce, merluzza (cod) with tomato sauce, wild quail braised in white wine, and fagiolini (a type of green bean) baked in béchamel, served with three types of local wines… then on to fresh fruits, cakes, espresso, and grappa to finish it all off… and this was a “simple” lunch!
After such a glorious welcome lunch, the late afternoon begged for something quiet and peaceful. My father’s wife is an architectural historian (to simplify the description) and the best personal tour guide to the ancient towns around Rome (and the city of, for that matter) that you could possibly ask for – and she speaks perfect English (unlike the rest of the family, who speak as much English as I speak Italian – you can laugh now!).
We spent the rest of the day in the ancient town of Palestrina (all you ancient-Rome geeks, eat your heart out!) visiting the Museo Archeologico Prenestino – the National Archeological Museum of Palestrina that is housed in the former Palazzo Barberini-Colona built upon the ancient temple to Fortuna. The ever-growing collection of impeccably preserved mosaics are well worth the trip… private family tour guide not included!