There is no shortage of things to see in Rome. But if you’re willing to venture a short distance outside of the city, you will find the beautiful oasis that is Castelli Romani.
These “Roman Castles” are comprised of several small towns outside of Rome. The exact number is unclear to me because every time I ask my Roman friends, I get a different answer.
Each commune is recognized for their own distinctive “claim to fame”:
Castel Gandolfo is where the Pope’s Summer Residence is, Frascati - the home of vineyards producing deliciously refreshing white wine from that region (with the same name), Nemi is famous for its wild strawberries, Arriccia is the birthplace of porchetta….and then there is Marino.
Located 20k southeast of Rome with a total population of around 37,000, Marino is the medieval commune where the legendary Sagra dell’Uva takes place. For those of you who aren’t already familiar with it, the Sagra is an annual festival dedicated to the grape. And this year it turns 93.
The weekend festival attracts a variety of visitors and is celebrated with markets, fairs, exhibitions and live music. The lineup also includes a religious procession, historical reenactment, and last but not least - a LOT of vino.
But the biggest highlight of the festival (for me at least) is when the Fountain of Four Moors begins spewing wine instead of water. After which, the wine is distributed freely amongst the thirsty, enthusiastic crowd. There is definitely some historical significance to this tradition, but what that is exactly, I don’t recall. I’m usually preoccupied with sipping on wine, eating, and talking to the friendly locals. Did I mention the wine is free? But if this complimentary beverage ends up running out, you can always buy a bottle of your own for an extremely reasonable price. It would be the perfect souvenir to remember your day - and a fantastic way to give a little bit back to the commune of Marino for their generous hospitality.