Saturday, November 5, was Michael’s birthday. He rented a car, and we headed for the Sabine Hills north of Rome for a three-day weekend (Monday was an IFAD holiday). Our destination was Casperia, a fortified medieval village founded between the 10th and 11th centuries. It rained on Friday, and the narrow road wound (and I mean wiggled) up, up, up to this hilltop village, which was beautiful from a distance and even more beautiful inside.
Because cars cannot drive in Casperia, we parked in the parking lot at the base of the hill and hauled our luggage up 100 steps or so (Michael kindly carried my suitcase, but even without it, the trip seemed more like a million steps) up and down and up and down the narrow winding “street” (more like a wide sidewalk) until we reached our lovely hotel, La Torretta. We checked in, the innkeeper showed us around, and we set off for our first excursion—an olive oil tour (more about that in a future blog post).
The tour lasted from 11 a.m. until about 6 p.m. and included a marvelous, but enormous, lunch at OrtoBio, a restaurant in the basement of the owner and chef’s farm home in Poggio Mirteto. That was heaven, and if you’re in the area and you love food, you should make reservations. Unfortunately, we had dinner reservations that night, also in someone’s home, and I was too full to eat much of that lovely second five-course meal.
Eight people stayed at La Torretta for the weekend, and seven of us were booked for almost all of the same activities. Two women were from England (one was a transplant from New York, but we’ll count her as a Brit), and a couple was from Australia, and we had a great time with all four of them plus our innkeeper, her husband, and their chef daughter, from whom four of us took a cooking class (more about that in a future blog post).
Some of those northern Civil War generals could have learned a thing or two from the Casperians about occupying the upper ground. In 1282 Casperia built a wall that still encloses the village and that allowed the residents to resist a siege in 1461. It boggles my mind to think that anyone could possibly believe that they could conquer a city on such a steep hill (the Battle of Fredericksburg, which the Confederates won handily, comes to mind, and that hill was a walk in the park compared to Casperia). It was hard enough to just walk up and down the streets!
So here’s glorious Casperia, where everything is up some steps or down some steps and you pray that you can find everything on your grocery list so you won’t have to make a second trip!