Bar Ermete Dal 1931 - Piazza Vittorio Emanuele 8, Trevignano Romano
No one knows precisely how many people live in Trevignano Romano. When we lived there in the eighties and nineties the received wisdom was that around 2,500 people lived there in the winter and that that figure might rise to as many as twenty thousand at times in the summer. The most recent (2008) census figure was 5,819 but many of those will not be permanently resident. Since we left, about fifteen years ago, there has been continual building, but sites have closed, with unfinished villas scarring the landscape, property sales have flat lined for many months now, and affitasi (to let) signs flutter like flags on many balconies.
Trevignano Romano is a picturesque village about fifty kilometres north of
. It sits on the shore of Rome , a bottomless (some 170 metres deep, but even Jacques Cousteau failed to find the deepest point) lake which fills a 30 kilometre round volcanic caldera. The village is dominated by the remains of an Orsini castle (destroyed in 1496 by one of the Borgia family) and a forested volcanic cone, known as the Rocca Romana, to commemorate the shrine the Romans created on its top. Volcanic activity is still very much present in the area, with a derelict hot-spring spa at Vicarello (about three kilometres from the village) awaiting multinational corporation agreement on its redevelopment. Lake Bracciano
The wonderful traditional trattoria at Vicarello
La Chiesa dell'Assunta - with 16th century frescos from the School of Raphael
It is still lovely, much lovelier and much less sprawling and overcrowded than Anguillara and Bracciano, the two other lakeside towns (both served incidentally by a railway line into
) and we remain very much attached to it. Rome
A Carnival Parade in Trevignano - Italia da vero!
We have come back for a few days to celebrate the 100th birthday of one of its favourite citizens. Although American by birth, Truman Peebles has lived there since his retirement from Rome’s Food and Agricultural Organisation forty years ago. His long white hair and flowing beard make him stand out from the crowd, and when our children were little his resemblance to Father Christmas was too good not to exploit.
Celebrating a centenary
In those years, we used to meet him on his daily jog along the shore, or see him swimming in the morning in the stillness of the lake. Nowadays, although he still lives alone in a first floor flat in the heart of the centro storico (historic centre) he moves a little slower, and jogging has slowed to a gentle shuffle.
Old friends greet us in the piazza, and in their shops. My anglo-saxon reserve is surprised by the number of kisses I exchange, but it is all wonderfully friendly. I have my hair expertly cut by Alberto; discuss photography with Loretta, property sales with Pietro and Mimmo, politics with journalist Paddy (whose wife Dympna has become involved with local campaigns) the flux of tourism with Nazzareno, the expectation of grandchildren with Sandro, and the passing of the older generation with the family at La Casina Bianca. Amanda has a lengthy and involved conversation with her friend from the shoe-shop, which includes him telling us about how modern tomatoes don’t taste like they used to, how he and friends once feasted on an enormous capon with skin like leather, and concludes with him showing us a pair of boots his father made, specially adapted to the unpaved streets at the time.
My father's boots!
Hornbeam growing from a volcanic bomb
The medieval chapel atop Rocca Romana, arising from a Roman shrine
It is a perfect evening and with a full moon rising, a glass of local wine and a plate of royal perch nothing could be finer. Under these conditions, 100 years seems nothing. It doesn’t really matter how many people live in Trevignano. It matters how people live – and like this, you could live forever!
Tramonto over Lake Bracciano
Truman in 1991 (that's him on the left!)