Monday, 7 July 2014

The Via Appia Antica

This is the old Roman road that runs from Rome all the way south to Terracina in an almost straight line as most good ancient Roman roads do. It then continues further to the south to Brindisi. It passes very near our farming village and we regularly use it to go to Terracina or even up to Rome on an alternative route to the bigger road - the Pontina.

It's easy to take it for granted - it's just a road. But occasionally you are reminded of its great past when you pass the scattered Roman ruins and mausoleums. This greatness is at it's best near Rome, where there are old Roman buildings on either side of the Appian Way. The large ancient Roman slab stones are still in place on the road making driving very bumpy! Some of the ancient Roman slabs still have grooves dug into them from centuries of carts passing over them. Casual archaeological evidence of life thousands of years ago is evident throughout the region: an aqueduct here, an ancient bridge here. Part of the charm is in the casual nature with which they are treated. Unfortunately, this casual treatment also threatens the preservation of some ancient monuments as well as the lack of funds for their upkeep.

The two lines of the umbrella pines are an easy way to identify this road.



Sunday, 6 July 2014

Food from Local Farms

The Agro Pontino is an agricultural area. It was inhospitable marshland up until the 1920s. The land was drained and reclaimed, settled by farmers from the north of Italy. This explains why Northern Italian food often appears on restaurant menus in the area. The Italian Fascist government organised the farmers, gave them a house, land, some animals and farming machinery. Nowadays it is an area of very fertile land where many crops are grown: tomatoes, peppers, melons etc. The area is also known for its buffalo mozzarella and other cheeses such as ricotta and provola.

Some farms sell their produce directly to the public. This includes vegetables, fruit as well as cheeses and meats. Some farms have little shops attached and some also have no-frills restaurants. I have listed some of them here so you can try them out for yourselves. It's worth mentioning that locals go to the farms to buy produce, so they aren't tourist traps. Prices aren't dirt cheap - it's the freshness and wonderful quality that you're buying.

In Borgo Vodice towards the Via Appia:


54, V. Migliara - 04014 Pontinia (LT)

tel: 0773 852204,0773 850096

They specialise in a range of organic cheeses. They also let members of the public visit their dairy to see how the cheese is made. Ask about times and they will let you know.

Across the Via Appia:


169, V. Migliara 51 Sinistra - 04014 Pontinia (LT)

tel: 327 6957856,0773 850147

I wondered if there was an English connection with this British sounding name - but there is none. No one I spoke to knew where the name came from. There was a grill restaurant opening up here in 2013 specialising in lots of different meats. Check that it is still open as these set-ups often come and go.

There are many Caseifici in the area. Many specialise in cheeses, but also sell more products. They often have big signs advertising where they are. It really is worth going to have a look at what they sell.

Organic Honey

Miele Maiero

Via Migliara 54

Borgo Vodice

I love this place and it's one of my first stops every time I visit. I know the lady who owns the hives and she is really lovely. They produce a range of honeys - eucalyptus, orange blossom, acacia, chestnut. They also sell honey grappa.