Sermoneta is a medieval day trip (or weekend) full of gastronomic experiences just an hour from Rome.
Imagine walking through a medieval town on the top of a mountain where you can see all the way to the roman sea destination of Anzio. Certainly, one of the most scenic medieval Borges of the region of Lazio. If you love the atmosphere in Sermoneta (@visitsermoneta) you are in great luck because it is situated between two other lovely medieval Borges known as Bassiano and Sezze.
In 2019 I had the fortune to live in Monticchio a very tiny commune of only 400 people. One bar and an outstanding market held every Sunday that united the rest of the area. It is always the food that brings the people together, isn’t it? Back to this magical area, from this town my view was the mountain top of Sermoneta, even better, my view was a medieval castle that made me daydream of every romance possible. I made that little town, an hour hike from my stay, my backyard. Buckle up this is a road-trip through time where you will walk on cobbled streets of the 1900 hundreds, eat locally produced ingredients, and sip on rigorous wine. Just like that the past becomes the delicious present.
I made it my mission to test every single restaurant in my “backyard” and these were my top experiences:
A first encounter with a Tuna Carbonara at Il Giardino di Simposio:
This was my first experience in Sermoneta and still strikes me to this day as I had my first “Tuna Carbonara” yup it’s a thing and guess what it is prepared at the table. This dish is in my top culinary moments because it is just genius. We are not talking about a simple pasta and tuna dish here. The fun starts immediately as local ingredients are introduced at the table. To be more precise the restaurants homemade infusions and sauces. The dish is firstly infused with Trombolotto (a wild lemon known as Citrus Limon Cajetani), and herbs secondly the texture is added with a Arzente flavoured Pistachio and Bottarga crumble, now the protein: locally sourced tuna lightly sautéed with capers in a local Zibbibo wine with a touch of oregano from Pantelleria. The final hurrah is given by an Armagnac infused Bottarga. I just wrote my first poem. Of course, have a side of fried artichokes because I ended up ordering two. Drooling bye.
Eat next door to a castle at Ristorante al Castello:
Now that you have made your first acquaintance with Sermoneta and some of the local ingredients you must also know that in this area black truffles are quite the catch. How to live without truffles I don’t know but often times a little here and a little there makes sitting next to a castle a little less important. So why not start with the local typical truffle appetizer followed by the best and most simple way to enjoy that rich flavour. Truffle grated on a simple fresh pasta does the trick for me. Let the truffle do the talking always. To be honest I am not a huge red meat eater. I listen to my body and at times I crave some and luckily that day I tried my first somewhat buffalo stew, cooked in white wine with fragrant aromas giving the meat the softest melt in your mouth texture ever. Cravings are hard to beat but when in the mood I close my eyes and wish this dish could appear.
Surround yourself with medieval interior design or outdoor views at La Locanda di Bonifacio VIII:
With the beautiful option of indoor and outdoor dining neither one can go wrong.
This restaurant really has you feeling all the interiors of the past where you sit and imagine if these walls could talk. Here I highly recommend trying the local appetizer where you will be introduced to local chacuteries, beans stew and anything else that is in season. It is a meal in itself so that I let the local wines fill me up instead. I also tried snails here for the first time my emotions are still perplexed but hey they were in season and I needed to know.
Once more round of Chacuterie and Truffles at Trattoria da Elena:
Outdoor seating on a cobble street is just that type of gem that doesn’t go unnoticed, but what goes even more unnoticed is a clever charcuterie board and another truffle fiesta. My lovely sister @alexianaomicelio was in town for a visit and was up for the hour hike influenced by the promise of a good meal and of course some local wine. Nice and sweaty with a few calories less we decided to replace what was lost with what was delicious. What started as a little feast became a glorious one. The indulgence wad so much that we decided to hike back down in hopes of a graceful digestion. No regrets.
Moving to the mountain just next to Sermoneta, about a 20 minute drive, you will find the lovely Borge of Bassiano where you can have another favorite feasts at La Taverna del Brigante.
The restaurant is very small but suprisingly they have a few tables on the street above the restaurant for one of the most unique settings ever. I am really a sucker for a good chacuterie board. For me the beauty and magic of a good chacuterie is trying regional local meats and cheeses that are so unique to the place, producer and most importantly come from a safe place. Every region will have something unexpected and new to offer. This restaurant also has its own store where they directly sell their cold cuts, meats and cheeses. It was the perfect fit for this indulgent overload protein based meal.
Last but not least an Artichoke affair in Sezze, the last Borge of the trio, at Il Seminario:
This place is a bit of the beaten path, doesn’t every good discovery start with this phrase? It is on the way to the mountain top of Sezze the third medival borge to visit in this area. Let me explain why this place is a destination. I am madly in love with artichokes this is not an understatement. Artichokes are the love of my life. Imagine the joy when I was invited to this agriturismo ( italian trattorias that are very farm to table) for a 5 course meal of artichokes. I still have not had enough, nor will I ever. For a real italian experience, tables of 20 family memebers shouting, or just that delicious of the path unexpected experience make your way to artichoke heaven. Well, fine I will also tell you that they are actually know for their meat cuts, but promise me you will give the artichokes a chance if in season!
It is time to leave the charming mountain tops and medival settings. I hope castles, truffles and must have chacuterie boards have sparked some curiosity to go on a road trip through time. There are many beautiful places to stay in these borges but there is one last gem I would like to share. There is a rustic agriturismo in a vineyard with a pool under Sermonets that has a few rooms and outstanding food called La Valle degli Usignoli that is worth a trip even if to just stop by the shop to buy wine, amazing spreads, homemade marmallade, and various delicatessen. Below is the website where you can also do some online shopping to get a head start.
https://www.lavalledellusignolo.it If you are in for another treat you can visit the lovely Giardino di Ninfa where ancient roman ruins are devoured by an enchanting garden, a garden considered to be the most beautiful in the wold according to the New York Times.
If you are more curious than before and I have not yet answered all your questions please feel free to contact me and for more in depth visuals of this area you can check the highlight called Rome and around on my instagram handle.
Ciao for now,