Friday 28 December 2012

SABINA TRAVELOGUE PART 13 - April 1 - Wild Boars, Chili Peppers and Ceramics

This morning we woke to a loud caterwauling outside our window. Some cat has entered the territory of another, and it being told off.  I hope that the confrontation is only verbal and not physical. It is a beautiful sunny day here. I have just made a frittata with Roman zucchini, prosciutto, and three types of local cheese.

Richard is making a second pot of coffee. Where is Candace ?

Today there is another Sagra or food festival in the area. This time it is in a town on the Etruscan side of the Tiber, across from Poggio Mirteto Scalo, a hilltown called Torrita Tiberina

Torrita Tiberina courtesy of Andrea Di Palermo
From what I have seen of the town from across the river, and from some research I have done online, it looks like a place worth visiting, even if there was no Sagra there. 

Savelli Castle at Nazzano Romano by Matteo Bordini courtesy of
Just down the road, is another picturesque hilltown, with a castle, called Nazzano Romano which, if I cannot make it to this time, I hope we can visit on our next trip to Italy.

The food being celebrated at the Sagra in Torrita Tiberina is Pappardelle al Cinghiale

Pappardelle with a Ragu of Wild Boar courtesy of
... and I love wild boar... but, without a car, I am not so sure we can make it. Either way, today will be another great day in La Bassa Sabina.


Among of the gifts we received yesterday from our friends visiting from Vetralla and Fiumicino were some cloth red pepper charms. I received this post from Paola explaining the meaning of the red chili pepper charm...

Post by Paola: Il nostro peperoncino... good luck.

Il peperoncino ricorda molto un corno di corallo e quindi si associa ad un porta fortuna. Spesso i corni in corallo vengono regalati ai bimbi appena nati per proteggerli dalle arpie che potrebbero dar loro il malocchio. In realtà il peperoncino pianta urticante è legata al fuoco della passione ed all'amore. Si usava in polvere per avvicinare amanti o sotto il cuscino per scoprire tradimenti. Portato in tasca ad un appuntamento assicura una buona riuscita dell atto sessuale.

Translation: our chili ... good luck.
The chili is very reminiscent of a horn of coral and therefore is associated with good luck. Often the horns of coral are given as a present to newborn babies to protect them from harpies that may give them the malocchio or evil eye. In fact, the stinging pepper plant is related to the fire of passion and love. Powder was used to bring lovers or placed under the pillow to discover treachery. Carried in the pocket on a date it ensures the success of the sexual act.

This was followed by a post about the significance of garlic...

Post by Paola: Aglio!!! Per la bruschetta.......dedicata a Candace...ahahahhahhaa!!! 
L'aglio un disinfettante naturale molto caro ai contadini che ne tenevano sempre una treccia nella cucina. Esso ha infatti il potere di assorbire il male e respingerlo. In magia viene usato per allontanare le larve astrali durante i rituali tenuto al collo di un bimbo allontana i vermi. In antichita' era il piu' potente antisettico conosciuto.

Translation: Garlic! For the bruschetta ....... dedicated to Candace ... ahahahhahhaa!
Garlic is a natural disinfectant much loved by peasants who always kept a braid in the kitchen. It has the power to absorb and reject evil. In magic it is used to remove the astral larvae during rituals. Held at the neck of a child, it banishes worms. In antiquity it was the most powerful antiseptic known.

As you might have expected, I didn't make it to Torrita Tiberina for the Sagra Pappardelle al Cinghiale... But that is okay... Tomorrow is another day, in fact it is my birthday, and we plan to head north to Orvieto in Umbria to celebrate...

Orvieto panorama courtesy of
We visited Orvieto  twice before, once in 1999, when we stayed overnight at the Hotel Virgilio, and once in 2009 on a day trip from Casperia.

When we first visited our friend Steve in Rome in 1999 he had in his possesion a number of amazing rustic pottery ewers. Steve called them bucchero... apparently they are modeled on ancient Etruscan pottery.

I fell in love with them and hoped I could find similar pottery to buy in Orvieto. I searched all over the place but could not find anything during that trip. During our visit in 2009 I tried again, and after searching all over Orvieto I finally found one shop on Vicolo dei Dolci off the Piazza del Duomo called Orviet'Anna that sold them.  


The glazing wasn't exactly like that on the ewers my friend Steve had in Rome, but they were close enough. I was in heaven, and I ended up buying two medium-sized ewers and a number of smaller items to take home to Canada.

Tomorrow, my goal is to find some more pottery by the same artist, Luigi Pierini, who made the wine ewers we bought three years ago... 

This time perhaps I will find a pasta bowl or platter, or both... or some plates...

Tonight we had a nice quiet evening at home. I made braised ciccoria and a mix of Umbrian lentils and farro for dinner. We drank a bottle of Pecorino wine from the EcofattorieSabine and had pecorino cheese from there as well. After dinner, we took a small passagiatta through the dark cobbled streets of the old town looking at houses for sale and dreaming. It is good to dream. Buona notte!


  1. Hi James... I enjoyed you post on Torrita Tiberina. I wonder if you know anything of the history of the region? The reason I ask, I'm writing a fiction about that region during the Roman Empire. I've read that Torrita Tiberina is the birthplace of Nero's mother, but I'm more interested in how well developed the region was during the time of Julius Caesar. Regardless, thanks for the great post and pics. ...Yordie

  2. Hello Yordie,

    Agrippina the younger was born in Oppidium Ubiorum on the Rhine River, not in Italy...