22 June 2017

Lazio 2017 - GranTurismo.....

Me and my Porsche, on a mini Grand Tour....

It's all about the wheels.....  Initially I had reserved a car qualsiasi, tipo un Fiat Punto.... But then I thought, Hey, why be so dull?  You only die once! Let's have a Maserati Gran Turismo V8 4.2L 405 HP with a max speed of 285 kph and a combined cycle consumption of 14.3 litres per 100 kilometres.....

Then I thought.  Wait.  That's maybe a little OTT?

No.  Let's have a zippy little Porsche Carrera (molto piu economic with only 385 bhp and a 3.8 litre engine....)

Un uomo se è un uomo davvero radici non ha

The point was we had a few days in the Rome area and we had been invited here and there, so I needed something to do the honours, and time was just a teenzy bit constricted.....

So after a glass of wine.....  Beautiful, smooth, fresh, golden liquid made from grappoli d'uve trodden by angels.....

So, after a couple of glasses, we set off for Caprarola....

To stay with Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, in his meravigliosa pentagonal palazzo designed by Vignola and decorated (or rather, hand-tinted) by Taddeo Zuccari.  

Oh, My!  It's like Cliveden, but with blue skies (and without Michael Portillo, or whoever....)  

And look!  Even the sundial works!

Anyway, after a light luncheon of truffle flavoured gnocchi and asparagi, accompanied by a couple of bottles of Vermentino, we hunt wild boar for an hour, and then, eschewing the call to prayer in the cardinal's private chapel, I retire to the upper gardens, nibbling an unripe pomegranate to the tinkle of the fountain of the chain, where a series of dolphins spit into scallop shells beside two stairways that lead to the Piazzale delle Cariatidi and the Palazzina delle Piacere

There is such a restful atmosphere that it seems ungrateful that some people, most especially - though not exclusively - poor people, do not appreciate the benevolence of wealthy members of the hierarchy.  This is not a question of whether or not a man may be a Cardinal or a Pope - it is a matter purely of good taste (and, according to D J Trump, sound economic sense....)

Portano aliquote in testa

come corone di spine
Il mezzo per loro talvolta
giustifica il fine

In the morning, after a sumptuous breakfast of locally made nutella and miele di acacia on toasted pane sciapo, served with a chilled dry white wine composed of pecorino and greccheto grapes with just a baseline of trebbiano, we refresh ourselves in the cool waters of nearby lago di Vico....

And then speed on to Bagnaia, where we are to have a luncheonette with Alessandro Montalto, the nephew of Sixtus the Fifth (or niece of Fifthus the Sixt? I do wonder....)  The so-called Villa Lante (it's not really one villa, there are two small palazzini, a grand park and some ornate gardens....) professes to be the most originalissimo Italianate Garden in Italia, being the most best example of lots of little box hedges and gravel paths absolutely anywhere.....

Portano aliquote in testa, 

nuvole passeggere

By the Rope Fountain we snatch an Aperol spritz

and then are served crespelle stuffed with funghi porcini and burrata, drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil from the estate and coloured with baby tomatoes that have been split on a charcoal grill.  

Alessandro then retires to study his breviary, and we move on to Genazzano, where Oddone Colonna awaits us at his Castello.

Si fermano appena un secondo

per fotografare.....

Then, after a swift Bitter Campari,

We press on, over the broom-strewn hills, to Subiaco, where S Benedetto is dead-heading his roses:

We pass the night in his cave, the Sacro Speco, feasting on paccheri with speck and truffles, and finishing a couple of bottles of Cacchione, dry white wine produced by the Schiavella family.  

The walls are covered in pictures which come alive in the light of oil lamps.  It's hard to sleep with all this going on, but.....

In the morning we take coffee with the Borgia, at the Rocca Abbaziale in Subiaco,

But then we have to sprint, as we have an appointment with Taddeo Barberini in the Palazzo Colonna Barberini at Palestrina

Where Tad wants to show me his latest acquisition, a rather fine Mosaic of the Nile from the First Century BC.....

For me it's a bit fussy, but....

Un uomo se è un uomo davvero radici non ha

Tempus fugit.  We have to be in Umbria for lunch, where Federico III De Montefeltro

is expecting us for pasta al pomodoro and a bottle of Calispone....

This Gran Turismo is beginning to become a whirl:

E arrivano sul tetto del mondo
senza nemmeno guardare

We cross the Tiber at Ocriculum, a little-excavated Roman city,

Then breeze on to Sutri, for an ice cream, 

Before dropping down to Trevignano Romano, on the northern shore of Lago di Bracciano, where we meet with members of the local aristocracy:

Before taking Jack Daniels on the rocks with the Gerarca himself, shortly to celebrate his 105th birthday.....

We pass a quiet evening here, contemplating the bollicine through a glass brightly:

È gente abituata a viaggiare
Gente che sa viaggiare
Di notte noleggiano baci sul lungolago...

Gunning the Porsche in the morning, we just have time to visit our friends the Odescalchi, at their recently restored castle at Palo, Ladispoli.  

Then it is time to return to Roma, where we have things to do:

Pensieri lontani da casa e posta da scaricare
Qualsiasi problema per quanto importante
Lo risolveremo al ritorno
Adesso c' è un nuovo paese, c' è un nuovo giorno

There's a wedding to attend:

Vows are exchanged at the Ara Pacis:

There is a reception at Castel Sant'Angelo,

hosted by Barone Scarpia

Who seems to be hiding something......

Un uomo se è un uomo davvero paura non ha
Qualsiasi avventura lo riempie di felicità

Anyway it has been a long day.  I have to park my Porsche, and we retire to our rooms in the Mecenate Palace, where night begins to fall:

And then, notwithstanding everything, continues to descend.....

Che sia un passeggero che passa e non sa dove sta
Che sia un viaggiatore che viaggia e chi sa dove va?

Gran Turismo

Words and Music by

Lucio Dalla & Francesco de Gregori

Un uomo se è un uomo davvero radici non ha

I think I deserve a large Menabrea

and a glass of Calvados


  1. Wonderful as always, even if the juxtaposition of "Porsche" and "alcohol" (albeit very stylish alcohol) does jar slightly... and you have friends with a newly-restored castle? Would that I could say I do.....

  2. Fantastico! Such blue in the skies, in the dresses (and trews); such photerfull wondergraphs!
    Ever thought of living there, looking through shades of wine as the nights fall and the dawns arise?
    Nest time you go we'll hire the ferrari and be damned..... Brother Simon