I don’t normally recommend day trips or really, much running around at all, for people who are on vacation. This is probably why I would make a terrible tour guide. But, if even a lazy bones like me can haul my ass up the hill to Frascati for a delightful afternoon, you should too. Here is everything you need to know about having lunch in Frascati, according to me.
1. Take the 11.52 train from Termini. The ticket costs 1.90 euro each way and are good for any train time. You can buy them at a ticket window, from any ticket machine, and even from the newspaper stands within Termini – get them for both directions, since the bar at the station in Frascati might be closed and then you’ll be riding the train without a ticket.
PLEASE NOTE that the train leaves from track 15, which I call the Harry Potter track because if you are standing at the front of Termini the numbers jump from 14 to 16. You have to take that platform 400 meters back to reach track 15, and the track is hidden behind a large pillar. Leave plenty of time for this, and keep walking.
2. When you get to Frascati a half hour later, follow the people up to the front of the station. On your right you will have to cross a street and walk up a LONG staircase. Take your time, Frascati’s not going anywhere.
3. When you get to the top, check out that amazing villa! And then go to your right until you reach the large area with the balcony, opposite the villa – that’s Rome you see spread out below you.
4. If you’re looking at the villa as seen above, head left and walk straight on – you’ll see a pedestrian only street there where the piazza ends. Follow that until you get to a funky re-done church. My friend Leo hates this church, because it’s not original architecture or something – but whatever, take a picture, it’s pretty.
5. Find the street that’s further to your left and to the church’s right, and follow that until you get to Piazza del Mercato. Yes, all those places are really selling fresh roasted pork. Go ahead and let that sink in.
6. The market the piazza is named after is in front of you, on the far side. To the left of that market is Leda, the Queen of Pork. Go to her and order “porchetta per X persone per la cantina.” I’ll tell you why in a moment. She’ll slice off some fresh roasted pork, and you can let her choose some cheese for you as well. Also, make sure to get some rolls from her, and don’t forget to get some sun dried tomatoes and artichokes with plenty of extra oil. I’ll tell you why in a moment. This should run you no more than 10 euro per person.
7. If you’re facing Leda, the Queen of Pork, there is a small street to your left. Walk down that street until you come to Piazza dell’Olmo, and the Trattoria dell’Olmo; it’s your first left. This is the oldest cantina in Frascati. Wait until the old lady notices you, and ask, “C’e’ spazio per X persone?” She’ll tell you where to sit.
8. Unwrap your purchases. This is the moment.
9. The old lady will ask you what you want. Just say “un mezzo litro” or “un litro” – by law she is only allowed to serve you wine and water. Don’t ask if she has anything else to drink, because she does not – nor can you bring any other beverages in. And, she’ll hate you. She’ll also bring you knives, and napkins – but if she doesn’t, there’s a roll of paper towels by the door, help yourself. The wine is white, but it’s actually an amber color and sweet. This should run you about 2 euro per person.
10. Make yourself a pork sandwich. Use the oil from the tomatoes and artichokes as a condiment on the bread. Swoon as you eat the best roasted pork you ever had in your life. Wash it down with homemade wine. Check out what everyone else is eating, too.
The trains back to Rome run at 29 minutes after the hour. I’ve eaten nice and slowly, and walked around a bit, and made the 2:29 train back to Rome with no problem.
UPDATED: Read this post to know why I am adding the pertinent info here:
Osteria dell’Olmo di Reggi Rita,
Piazza dell’Olmo, 3