Thursday, September 19, 2013
Last weekend we had one last summery weekend getaway. It wasn’t even an entire weekend. Just a Saturday. But it was all so relaxing, gorgeous and delicious that it felt like a full fledged vacation.
Our weekends are usually one of two options: head out to our house in Umbria (pretty great) or else stay in Rome (also pretty great). The thing is, even though both of these places are beautiful, they are also our homes. So even if we do end up doing something fun, we also end up working at some point. (Love working for my self, but the boss is a slave master)
So taking a day trip outside of Rome - with no gardening to do, and certainly no social media or blog to catch up on - was a real treat.
We headed to Lago di Bracciano, which is only about a 50 minute drive north. It’s a volcanic lake, and the waters are deep, clear and surrounded by dark, pebbly stones. My friend Jane has been going there for years. And Domenico even lived in the main town of Bracciano for a while. But neither Domenico nor I had been on a day trip from Rome, just to hang out by the lake, swim and relax.
We went with Jane, who has the whole day-trip-to-the-lake-thing down to a science. A quick drive up the Cassia Bis, we headed straight to Trevignano, the smallest of the towns on the lake. There are several stabilimenti along the shore, but we just followed Jane to ‘her’ place: Casina Bianca. We parked in the back ‘parking lot’ (really just a field with trees), walked past the restaurant’s jungle-like vegetable garden, through the restaurant, across the street to the narrow beach.
“Swim now, before lunch, because after lunch the waves really pick up” advised Jane. Waves? For real? On this lake? The waters were so becalmed that I could see myself in their reflection. But I usually just do what Jane says, and so spent most of the two hours before lunch swimming all the way out to the buoys and back in the surprisingly warm water, alternating with getting in as much sun as I could on the near empty beach.
Jane had reserved a primo table for us at lunch, right at the edge of the vine covered pergola, with a view out towards the far shore. As we sat down, sure enough, the wind started to pick up. “I told you so” said Jane. Actually, she didn’t say it. But she gave me that look. And indeed, gazing out at the view I could see the now choppy waters lapping at our beach chairs. Jane is always right.
Lunch was simple, delicious and shockingly affordable. When is the last time you’ve seen primi that cost 6 Euros? They even offered half portions for 4 Euros. Nothing fancy, mind you. But we were all soon happily tucking into big plates full of spaghetti al pomodoro, fettucine con funghi porcini and pasta e fagioli. The main dishes were mostly variations of simple lake fish: coregone, persico and luccio. Fried or alla piastra. Simple, straightforward and - at 9 euros - the most extravagant items on the menu. The side dishes, including roast peppers - which came straight from the garden outback - were my favorite.
We spent the rest of the afternoon soaking up the last rays of summery sun, cooled by the lake breezes, doing absolutely nothing. “I’ve never seen Domenico stay still for so long” said Jane, more used to seeing him whizzing around the garden in Todi from dawn till dusk. “That’s because we’re on vacation,” I told her, “At least for today.”
La Casina Bianca
Via della Rena, 78,
To get here drive up the Cassia Bis and get out in Trevignano Romano. Head in to town and take the road along the lake. Cascina Bianca is about five minutes out of town. The parking lot is reached by the little road right after the restaurant, on the right, and reserved for guests of the restaurant. Umbrellas and beds are 4 Euros each for the day. Parking is free.