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Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Ariccia: For the Birds, and the Pigs

Ariccia may be our favorite town in the Colli Albani.  The entrance to it is simply spectacular: over
an elegant and long bridge, spanning a deep gorge, the city center just at the end, magnificent views of the coastal plain and the Mediterranean beyond.

The tranquil main square, with a bar and exterior seating, is the perfect place for a morning coffee.
Around the corner is "main street," narrow and inviting, shops and bars, locals sitting--and trimming green beans.

Then there's a whole "other" Ariccia, just through the town and down left: a spilling semicircle with perhaps a dozen restaurants and cafes, all featuring some version of pork, most with some sort of pig logo out front. (The bridge to the right of the photo on the right is the same one pictured in the older photo, below.)

Today, the restaurant area is to the right, and down.  View looking north/northwest.  

And trucks delivering Ariccia pig meat going by.

One time we chose Osteria del Borgo and pappardelle with...pork (wild boar)!  And a plateful of porchetta (photos above and left).  All pork all the time (we first wrote about Ariccia's porchetta in 2011).  On another visit we discovered a street of restaurants heading up the hill alongside the Parco dei Chigi.  Men and women hawking their restaurants even crossed the street to accost us.  Nonetheless, we chose one - Osteria da Angelo (da 1920, "hand made pasta" - those factors attracted us), and had a terrific porchetta "starter" followed by that pasta.  We've now discovered the difference between dry and moist porchetta.  You definitely want the latter.  And, you need to eat it with some of the crispy skin and fat for flavor.  Just do it.
Bernini's Church of the Assunta - he was inspired by the Pantheon dome, as he was reconstructing the Pantheon into a church.
The small fountain to the left in this picture is the Fontana delle Tre 
Cannelli (Fountain of the Three Spouts).  The fountain
also sports the Chigi symbols - the mounds topped by a star.
A tasty town, yes, but the most remarkable aspect of this small community is that it has two monumental buildings by the distinguished 17th-century architect Gian Lorenzo Bernini.  We think that's two more than any other town in the Colli Albani (but we could be wrong).  The Bernini buildings are on the central square, facing each other.  The entire square, with the palazzo on one side and the church on the other, was designed by Bernini for Chigi Pope Alexander VII, and that is one reason we were so impressed by the view of the town as we came over the bridge.  The bridge, a 19th-century addition to the town, was destroyed in World War II and rebuilt after.
View of "lower" Ariccia (the dome of Bernini's church is visible), part of the immense park, and, beyond, the Mediterranean.  The nets at the side of the bridge are there to catch would-be suicides.  

Across the street from the church, the long white building is Bernini's (and Carlo Fontana's--a Bernini pupil) Palazzo Savelli Chigi (photo of entrance above). The two rebuilt an earlier structure in baroque style in the 1660s.  The palazzo belonged to the
Chigi Pope Alexander VII (we think), eyed by Dianne.
Chigi family for more than 300 years, finally ceded to the Commune only in 1988.

It was a setting for the 1963 Luchino Visconti film, Il Gattopardo ("The Leopard"), starring Burt Lancaster, Claudia Cardinale and Alain Delon, and now hosts exhibitions and events.

From the terrace.

The rather plain facade belies a complex and rich decorated interior.  A balcony/deck overlooks the gorge and park below--what used to be Chigi property - and fascinating enough to us that Dianne is writing it up as a separate post (all Ariccia all the time!).

In the Palazzo Savelli Chigi, we especially enjoyed the "admissions" room, with a ceiling delightfully painted in birds--and an animal we couldn't identify, devouring a mouse.   So don't forget to look up!

Bill and Dianne


Roseann said...

I felt as if i was dropped into a whole new city. I had no idea of the geography. Can you tell us where you are and how you got there? Thanks.

Dianne Bennett and William Graebner said...

Ariccia is a small town in the Alban Hills, southeast of Rome. Easy to get to: straight out the via Appia (SS7), about 20 km from Rome. Ariccia is between lakes Albano and Nemi, and just to the southwest.