May is traditionallystrawberry month and the territory of the province of Rome offers delectable products and occasions for enjoying this red spring fruit in all its glory.
And the small strawberries fromNemiare one of the town’s most popular traditional products. In fact, the special microclimate around Lake Nemi fosters the spontaneous growth of these berries and makes it possible to obtain excellent results without the use of artificial products. But maintaining the plants requires commitment and energy. Once a week, each row must be weeded by hand and ripening fruit must be protected from birds and insects. Then, each berry must be picked naturally, by hand – a back-breaking task. The women, thefragolare, are the ones who perform this hard work. The same women who, along with the strawberries, are the stars of the annualFestivalwhich this year will be held in Nemi onMay 30: a “must” event for lovers of this fruit. The whole town is decked out in strawberries which can be enjoyed together with wines and liqueurs – made of strawberries, of course – throughout the town.
This age-old festival which, before Italian Unification, was held on June 13 in Piazza Campo de’ Fiori in Rome on the saint’s day of St. Anthony of Padua, today is a not-to-be-missed opportunity to visit this town in theCastelli Romaniwith its small streets, the beautiful gardens stretching fromPalazzo Ruspoli, renovated in the 1800s by Valadier, down to the valley with its lago. This lake has been so-loved since Roman times that they built atemple to Dianathere, as well as numerous villas, whose ruins and the Roman ships found in the lake can be visited at the Museo delle Navi (BoatMuseum) located on the shores of the lake. In addition to the small strawberries from Nemi, also famous are thestrawberries produced in Carchitti, an area ofPalestrinaalong the provincial road connecting the Via Casilina with theCastelli Romani Parkand the Via Tuscolana. Again here, the bounty of this traditional product from the hillsides towards the Castelli Romani has become a local tradition thanks to the festival which will take place on May 6, 12 and 13. Roma&Più recommends the strawberries be enjoyed while strolling along the main street in Palestrina (8 km from the festival). And don’t forget to visit the cathedral, theCattedrale di S. Agapitoand the near-by archeological site of the Antro delle Sorti, then up the characteristic stairway to theMuseo Archeologico Nazionale (National Archeology Museum) created inside what was the chamber of the Tempio della Dea Fortuna (Temple of the Goddess Fortune), the main sacred area outside of Rome, dating from the 3rd century BC.