Thursday, November 11, 2010
The other day I was walking by the newish Enoteca della Provincia Romana, near the Column of Trajan. I always forget about this place, since I rarely walk through this corner of Piazza Venezia. It opened about a year ago, and is subsidized and supported by the Provincia of Rome. It’s a restaurant and in front there are a few shelves that sell a selection of products.
The products are always from around Rome, but change slightly from month to month, according to what is being promoted, as does the menu and wine list. Last month, for instance, the featured producers were prisoners. And the mentally ill. And the handicapped. And drug addicts. You see Italy actually has one law that sort of works. This is the law that says that part of prison’s budget has to go towards training the inmates for a career when they get out (and ditto for the drug addicts, etc. ). A few of these institutions have actually managed to establish themselves as producers of high quality wines, salamis, cheeses and jams.
I discovered all of this while researching the Italian episodes for Gourmet’s Diary of A Foodie a couple years ago. We visited Velletri prison where I met with and spoke to inmates making wine and jam. Here’s a clip of me in action. (I was actually supposed to be walking through the vineyards with the prisoners, talking to them. But, frankly, I got pretty freaked out with the knives they were using to prune the vines.)
The Enoteca has a full program that you can see here. (the website is a bit lacking, since it links through the Provincia.) Every Wednesday and Saturday, from 5 to 7pm, there are tastings of the products you can attend. And the restaurant is open Monday to Saturday, 11am to 11pm.
November 5 - 20 is the Festa of Novello (which I hate) but also chestnuts (which I love).
November 22 - 30 is Women and Wine in Lazio.
For more information on the wines made in the Velletri Prison visit Lazzaria, which partners with the prison to market the wines.