Frascati is a quaint, charming town around 25mins (on the train) from the centre of Rome. A summertime destination for those living in Rome (it’s a few degrees cooler so Italian’s come her to escape the city heat). Frascati amongst other things is famous for its white (house) wine. So popular in fact that the official ‘town’ mascot is a three boobed lady that we’re told represents mums; two boobs for milk one for wine (to calm the baby down). Porchetta (Pork) is also a winner here we tried some of the best roast pork we’ve ever had.
We wanted to get an authentic feel for this wonderful town and try the famous wine so we embarked on a tour with The Old Minardi Farmhouse. The tour is an early one and starts at 10.30am in front of the Frascati train station. We’re greeted by our lovely host Dominique Lettiere who is married to 10th generation of Minardi winemakers and our tour begins…
The first part of the tour is a walking tour of the town, we visit Villa Aldobrandini (built for the Pope’s summer holiday), The Church San Pietro which was bombed during the war, the façade is original however the back has been rebuilt. Legend has it that Lady Madonna fell off after it was bombed but remained upright and unharmed besides the church, a pilgrim is stationed where she landed. Other places we visited were the Piazza del Mercato where we saw the Bambola Frascatana (3 boobed lady cookies) and a famous cart selling roasted pork. We then visited Cerali bakery where we saw the 90 year old Cerali Grandmother making wine cookies (they’re the best in town) in the wood burning oven and tasted delicious roast porchetta with white pizza – worth visiting Frascati just for that!
Following on from this we then went to a traditional Fraschetta called Osteria dell Olmo to try some of the traditional Frascati jug wine, after all it’s what the town is famous for. The owner of the Fraschetta is a grandmother who works here with her son and granddaughter. They make 30,000 litres of jug wine a season and sell it directly from the cellar on tap for 1.50 euro a litre to go. You can even bring your recycled water bottles to fill up and take home for lunch.
After the Fraschetta we walked through the lovely cobblestone streets of Piazza San Rocco where we took in stunning views of Rome, we visited a 12th century church built in volcanic rock (also the church where our guide was married) and the former castle of Frascati, which now serves as the Bishops Palace.
First part complete, we got into a cab and went to The Old Minardi Farmhouse (Antico Casale Minardi). Here we were greeted by Tobia (family dog) and taken on a tour of the family’s olive grove and vineyard. The artisanal vineyard is family run, with wooden posts and 60 year old vines. We tasted some of the grapes straight off the vine (sweet and tangy) and visited the family’s 16th century cellar which has all the original traditional wooden wine making tools and is an amazing time capsule that looks like it hasn’t changed much in the last 400 years.
Dominique also told us that the cave in the wine cellar was used as a bunker during ww2 and was where the Minardi grandparents met…hiding from the bombing of Frascati on September 8th, 1943, love blossomed and the rest as they say is history. Ahhh Romance and wine!!
Having had an extensive tour we had now built up a thirst and were eager to try the artisanal wine. We’re told there’s only 2000 red bottles, 400 sweet wine, 7000 white. Needless to say all of them were delicious, our personal favourite was the sweet wine and we couldn’t get enough of it (sadly there’s only 400 bottles in production – 398 now we bought two). All the wines were paired with fresh bread and pizza we had picked up from the bakery in the centre of town earlier. We also had the opportunity to taste the Minardi family’s olive oil with fresh figs and white pizza (a yummy snack that Italian’s love to give their children).
Having completed the vineyard tour we returned to the centre of Frascati for a delicious lunch at a family run restaurant called Il Tettuccio where the grandmother makes the pasta fresh every day. We had a selection of local cheeses and cold cuts to start, gnocchi with truffle and porcini mushroom sauce and their special of fresh tagliatelle with cherry tomato sauce topped with parmesan cheese shards and bresaola for mains. Our favourite wine from the tasting was served with the meal and we finished with an espresso and cookies – all of it absolutely divine!
The whole tour including wine tasting, lunch and snacks cost a fabulous price of just 55 euros – this is one tour you have to do when in Rome! We can’t recommend enough and can’t wait to revisit!
For those who want to visit Rome, it’s easy to do, if like us you decide to stay outside of the centre, trains run every hour. We stayed at the Park Villa Grazioli as we wanted a hotel with a pool so we could have a relaxing break away from the City to recuperate.
Rome is a city you can easily get lost in with so much to see and do, it’s a wonder where to start. For those that want to do Rome in a day that’s more than doable. We did most of it easily, visiting the popular sight seeing locations including The Vatican (we didn’t make it into any of the museums or Sistine Chapel as there were too many queues), Colosseum, Trevi Fountain (though that was under construction), Spanish Steps, Roman Forum & Palatine Hill, Pantheon and numerous beautiful churches and buildings with the most amazing paintings and architecture. Rome at night is especially beautiful, they whole city takes on a magical air – we loved wondering the City at night, enjoying the historic buildings lit up, equally splendour as they were during the day, perhaps more so as they all took on a whimsical quality at night.
Italian food is amazing, we ate a lot of gelato, pizza and pasta with prosecco of course as well as Frascati wine. We booked our lastminute getaway for August bank holiday weekend (4 nights) with British Airways including our 4 star Park Villa Grazioli Hotel for just under £500 so it was excellent value for money. We’ll definitely be going back to Rome and the splendid hill top town of Frascati.