Italian taste

The history of the typical fraschette of Ariccia, enjoying the wines and porchetta of Lazio

A small guide to understand what the real fraschette of Ariccia are, a classic destination for daytrips out of town in Lazio, and what is worth tasting

The fraschette of Ariccia are one of the most famous tourist attractions in Lazio. 

But what exactly is a fraschetta? This word derives from the local term’ frasca’ which means ‘branch’. In the past, fraschette – wine cellars where wine was made and then sold – were marked by a branch of laurel hung outside the door. Nowadays, fraschette have become real restaurants and are recognisable by the colourful signs and boards indicating the menu. 

In the heart of the Colli Albani

The fraschette are typical of the picturesque town of Ariccia, located some twenty kilometres south of Rome, in the Colli Albani area, on the border of the famous Castelli Romani Park. To understand their origin, we need to go back to the Middle Ages, or even more probably to the inns of ancient Rome that were established as refreshment points for farmers who came to the city to sell the products of their land.  

Wine and unconventional food

True to their vocation of cheap inns, no refined food was eaten in the fraschette because there was no kitchen (unlike the osterie). When the new wine was ready to be enjoyed, the ‘frasca’ was hung outside so customers knew they could stop at a fraschetta to eat seated on wooden benches and tables with no frills, plenty of home-made bread and hard-boiled eggs. Nothing else.

Le fraschette nell’epoca moderna

Today, for Romans and also for tourists, a trip to the hills is a must, and the fraschette have become an absolute must-see attraction, real little restaurants in which to taste the typical local cuisine.

What to absolutely add to the tasting list?

Porchetta, of course. Porchetta is a thousand-year-old institution in Ariccia, and its roots go back, needless to say, to the traditions of ancient Rome, when priests offered processed pork as a sacrifice to Jupiter. Already in those days, porchetta was famous among the Roman nobility, who travelled to the Colli, the hills surrounding Rome, looking for some cool air and of course feast on it. To this day, the pork is seasoned with local aromas, cooked for many hours in the oven or on the spit and eaten by all those who come to Ariccia just for this delicacy.

The simple and very traditional menus of the fraschette also include bruschette, baked abbacchio, the famous pasta alla gricia, panzanella romana, and coda alla vaccinara.

For good drinks, it is a must to rely on local excellence, with the typical DOC wines of the province of Rome. The classic fresh white wine, loved even by the popes, comes from Frascati, a small town a few kilometres from Ariccia, but the rosés and reds also have their own history and character worth tasting. To find out more and take note of the names of the best wineries in the area, check out the article dedicated to the Castelli Romani in our column ‘The World of Wine’. 

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