So there are lots of food-themed festivals around here, particularly in the summer and fall. Fruit! Porcini! Carciofi for everyone! I love food; sign me up!
I meant to do more. And we will. But we did make it to the Sagra delle Fragole (strawberry festival) in Nemi this June.
But the thing about festivals is crowds. Shockingly, other people ALSO want to go to the cool-sounding festival with you.
I don’t really love crowds.
But does anyone? I mean tell me, have you ever met a person who is all, ooo, I love the feeling of strangers pressed up against me and constantly checking my bag to make sure I’m not pickpocketed?
You know the people who love Black Friday shopping? I’m guessing if you gave them the option of doing it as is or going with all the same deals to a completely empty mall that they would pick the empty option. Every. Time.
Maybe people who do raves really like crowds? They seem to like to get together with lots of people. (I don’t really know if this is still a thing. I’m not up on rave etiquette.) BUT if you think about, ravers are actually the worst at crowds because of the drugs. They are basically saying that the only way they want to be around lots of other people is if you get them into a chemically altered state first.
See. No one likes crowds. No one.
But, after we heard about the strawberry fest from a friend, I really wanted to go. I was glad for the heads up that parking is a bit of a disaster and the free shuttle is the way to go. We parked and headed towards the shuttle we assumed would take us into town.
(This is my tip for enjoying Italy. Just cram yourself on the mystery shuttle. Give yourself in to the experience. Don’t think about it too much.)
Luckily, the shuttle did bring us to the very adorable town of Nemi. Nemi is situated right on Lago di Nemi (Lake Nemi) and you have gorgeous views throughout.
Was it worth it? I think so. It was crowded, but not completely crazily so. Part of the festival was just usual market tchotchkes you see everyone. But part was ALL THINGS STRAWBERRY. (Of course we were there on Day like 28 of my Whole30.)
We saw strawberry arancioni. Strawberry pizza. Strawberry pastries. Strawberries with mountains of whipped cream. Not to mention, just plain strawberries.
For lunch, we couldn’t find a restaurant with availability. It seemed like every bar and store along the main drag turned itself into a strawberry cafe serving whipped confections.
But then we got porchetta on the main square and it was all good. And then we managed to find the mystery shuttle to return to our car. All in all, a decisive festival win.
Recently, we decided to drive to Orte for the day. This is a hill town just north of Rome that we pass every time we head out on the A1. We were all planned out and decided just to chillax and check out this place.
Sigh. I wish we had done a little more planning.
First, we get there and realize that Orte has a subterranean city you can explore. This makes sense because it looks like it is sitting on top of a flat rock mountain. But the underground stuff is only open from 9 – 11 and then at 1530 or some such. We had gotten a later start on the day. Guess what time we got there? Yup. Like 11:15.
As we started to wander the adorable town, we noticed lots of neighborhood flags up. Would we get to experience some local festing, we wondered?
But of course, we just missed it. By one weekend. If we had come on either of the previous weekends (very end of August through early September), we would have gotten to see festivities related to their palio-type race.
AND adding insult to injury, the only real restaurant in town was closed for two weeks. Probably because it was suffering from some severe festival hangover. The famous porchetta place was also closed.
Orte was a quaint town with winding streets and nice views. If you only had a few days in Italy, you’d never make it here. I’m glad we get to see places like this. We enjoyed our wander and got some food at a bar and a bakery. It was all good.
But I kind of wished we had been a part of the crowd.
I’m not going to ask if you love or hate crowds because we have already established that EVERYONE hates crowds. I guess I defy you to come up with an exception. BUT do you let your hatred of crowds win or do you sometimes think it is worth it to “do the crowd?”