Our day in Piglio.
A few week ago Ettore and I were tired of being house bums and decided to get back into our old routine of going for a Sunday drive to a town within two hours of Genzano for a walk and lunch. We decided we would go to a little mountain town called Piglio which is located in the hills of Frosinone, which is a province of Latium. Piglio is "famous" for a native laziale varietal called Cesanese and Cesanese del Piglio has the excited new designation of a DOCG wine, which is th first in the region of Latium.
After the fall of Rome is 476 C.E. Rome experienced a huge change, which was a population drain and a brain drain. When the Emperor Constantine moved the capital of the Roman Empire from the city of Rome to Constantinople, many of the skilled crafts people left, as well as scholars. Rome's population in th 5th c. dropped to about 10,000, although some estimates say 20,000 people. With the collapse of Rome in the west, Italy was espeically plagued by constant evasions by the so-called Barbarians. Without a central power securing the city of Rome, many people fled the area and moved into the hills of Latium where they built these amazing medieval towns out of stone totally isolated from anyone else, but also protected from invasions. Piglio is a great example of this. In the Middle Ages, Italy was primarily made up of hundreds of little city states, all at odds with each other. What happened is really what defines Italy today, a country of extreme diversity in culture, language and kitchen. Many people went back to their roots, to the villages of their ancestors before they were Romanized. The Hernici once ruled this region.
The Pigliesi retained their cooking and wine making skills for centuries without interuption, many of these traditions were brought from classical Rome. When one drinks the native varietals of Latium, one drinks the wine of the Classical Romans. It is a very exciting time in terms of wine production in Latium, with native varietals being rediscovered and wine producers realizing they have gold in their hands, and instead of relying on the internationl grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon, they are places their bets on what seems natural, and what will thrive in the region.
So on this cloudy day, we decided to give ourselves a few hours break from our sick puppies, and took a drive into the real backwater countryside of Latium for a small taste of what the town offered.
After a very pleasant one hour drive from Genzano on the Autostrada, We encountered this town built of whatever stones were in the area. I would have hated to be the peasant who had to transport good from the fields to the town!
When it was finally lunchtime, we found a real hole in the wall, down a stone alley, with the smallest door. The only reason when knew it was a open for lunch it because of the delicious aroma coming from the kitchen. It was cold, and we cold smell minestrone and polenta, cold weather foods that appealed to our cold hands.
Ettore ordered the Penne di carciofi the pasta with artichoke. It was also delicious, and not as bitter as many artichoke dishes are, which was great in terms of being to taste the wine. Sometimes the bitter metalic property of artichoke interferes with wine. It is notoriously hard to pair with wine. Ha! You can actually see the fork moving in the photo. It was so delicious, I couldn't get Ettore to wait 5 seconds while I took a photo!!
30 euro for both of us.