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25 November 2013

Agriturismo Terra Sabina & Ristorante La Casina Nel Parco in Poggio Mirteto


After a hectic week at the city, sometimes (maybe even always), we desperately need some time off from the urban life and escape to the countryside. Nature has a natural way to heal those trembling nerves we have that developed while rushing through city life. City life is nice, sometimes, because everything is accessible and it's just easier. With all the modern technology surrounding us, what else is there? Or so it seems.


But life is not all about rushing and forgetting about the enjoyment of simplicity. I'm not really a country girl, never will be and I don't think the country life likes me too. Don't laugh. I am terrified of worms and I will never sit or even lie down (God, help me!) on the grass without anything between me and the grass. I'm sensitive with animal smells so I stay away from animal farms. I also cannot detach myself from my computer & phone. What a shame! I can go on with my long list but this post is not about me.


It's about a couple of wonderful discoveries in the town of Poggio Mirteto, just about 60 kilometers (an hour's drive) from Rome. What's great is that the town is easily reachable by train if you don't have a car. You can take the train from the center of Rome, like the stations of Trastevere, Tuscolana & Tiburtina or from the main airport of Rome itself, from Fiumicino airport, taking the line that goes to Fara Sabina. From the station, Agriturismo Terra Sabina can arrange transport to and from their place.


Agriturismo Terra Sabina is a family-run agriturismo (farm house) where you can stay in one of their 4 beautiful country-style rooms, try their home-cooked meals with ingredients coming from their own garden, including their extra virgin olive oil and over everything, enjoy the country life exploring their big land with olive groves, grape vines, fruit trees and vegetable patches with two huge dogs accompanying you on your walks. 


I've been to Agriturismo Terra Sabina two weeks ago on a Wild Edible Plants Class organized by Italy Food Roots which I wrote about in this post. From that day, I met Serena, the wonderful woman behind the agriturismo. Along with her family, she makes the place run smoothly. Cooking is a joint venture between her and her grandmother, Nonna Olga. The two put their expertise to a good balance of decades of experience of Olga and the enogastronomy education of Serena from Gambero Rosso in Rome. The combination of both plus very fresh ingredients from their land and you get outstanding food.


When I travel around Italy, I like staying in agriturismi because it's where I get to try home-cooked meals with homegrown ingredients. Not only that, the warmth of the hospitality makes my stay more memorable. Traveling is not just the sights that I photograph or the food that I ate. One major factor that makes it special is the people I meet and speak with. Sometimes I won't remember anymore the name of the place or how it's done but it's the people I met that I have vivid memories of.



I stayed here for a night with my husband. With the silence of the place, it was a complete contrast to our daily life. We live in noise, confusion & rush. Kids, work, school, TVs, computers, iPads, food shopping, attending to the kids' needs, cooking. I'm sure you are all familiar to what I am referring to. Even if I took my computer with me, the stillness I confronted made me a bit jittery too. That's when I understood that I was too stressed. I needed that break after all.
 


Morning starts with a pampering of delicious healthy breakfast of toasts with different kinds of homemade jams, traditional biscuits, cake and a refreshing orange salad to refresh the palate.


Lunch was another thing. It was a transportation of exceptional food from garden to table. Most, if not all, came from the agriturismo's gardens. The extra virgin olive oil alone was just done that same day with the olives harvested from their trees.




Staying in Agriturismo Terra Sabina is like a re-education of all our senses. How we should appreciate nature at its best, what it can nurture us both physically and internally. I went back home to my kids a more relaxed person, happily fed with food straight from where they grew.


Now I understand why Serena left her city life in Rome and decided to convert her family's home to an agriturismo. It takes courage and strong will to do what she did because running such a huge place takes strength in making it work. With her grandmother alongside her in the kitchen and her father, who also left his city life in Milan, overseeing the daily things, the family completes the arc of warm hospitality. 


In the agriturismo, you can also purchase a lot of their food products like jams, biscuits, extra virgin olive oil, liqueurs and more. 




In the pictures below, you will see the 4 rooms that they have. All rooms have their own bathrooms except Pimpinella which has one across the hall. We stayed in Gramigna, a beautiful, spacious room with a jacuzzi bath.

Room Gramigna
Room Gramigna
Room Gramigna
Room Asparagina
Room Asparagina
Room Asparagina
Room Pimpinella
Room Pimpinella
Room Pimpinella
Room Mentuccia







Since the agriturismo's kitchen is closed for dinner on weekdays, Serena suggested a place that's just 5 minutes drive from the agriturismo. (Note: If you are a guest during the week, they can make arrangements with you for your dinner needs.) She understood our needs. Ristorante La Casina Nel Parco. A place with good food & wine and most specially, silence. I've also read and overheard the other diners close to us about the nice view from the terrace but it was one wet, cold and dark night so I couldn't enjoy anything other than the amazing food that the chef & owner, Francesco Pugliese prepared for us. 


Ristorante La Casina Nel Parco has the cozy elegant ambience that gives a promise of a special night as soon as you sit down in their dining room. I adore places like this. It's elegant yet envelopes you in warmth. I like elegant modern ones too but for a date with my husband, I going to this restaurant was a very smart choice.

Ristorante La Casina Nel Parco
Since my husband and I met while traveling around Europe, we share the same passion. Food, travel & photography. I actually didn't know about this love of photography until recently, when I started this blog. He excels in capturing the expressions of people well while I will never be able to get good shots of anyone except food. Unless they pose as lemons or tomatoes.

Appetizers alone
At La Casina, we both got the menù degustazione di pesce (degustation of fish) composed of 5 courses with an incredible plethora of appetizer dishes (I almost gave up after the appetizers!). Being in the area of meat, I would have gone for the degustation of that one but our recent trips to Umbria overwhelmed me with all kinds of meat. My body was calling for fish!

Risotto alla pescatora, paccheri con ragù di galinella & orata (gilt-head bream) with fried artcichokes
The food was amazing as you can see from the pictures I took and finishing everything was a struggle but we did it. I can't give you a favorite because I loved everything. The ingredients used had qualities of freshness and high quality. And the good part is also the moderately priced dishes. It's a restaurant to return to.

Semifreddo and creme brulèe
A short weekend break is what we need at times. With just an hour's distance from Rome, we can experience the warm hospitality of Agriturismo Terra Sabina and Ristorante La Casina Nel Parco. If you are touring Rome and have an extra night, take the train from the city until Poggio Mirteto and arrange with the agriturismo for pick-up. The station is just a few minutes away from them.

I hope you enjoyed this post. I admit, it's long but the places and food are worth writing about. Until the next post! Have a good week!

Francesco Pugliese of Ristorante La Casina Nel Parco