Thursday, July 31, 2008

The quaint little village of Nemi...

Everyone is always asking me where my favorite place in Italy was. That is the most difficult question to answer. I have so many favorites, I couldn't possibly choose one. It's sort of like trying to choose your favorite child! (Actually, much harder than that, because some days choosing a favorite child is easy!)

If I were to pick a favorite "quaint village," it would be Nemi for sure! It is only 18 miles southeast of Rome, but it feels like worlds away. Nemi is named after the lake, Lake Nemi, which it overlooks. Lake Nemi is one of two crater lakes in that area. It has a lot of interesting history. Caligula, a Roman Emperor around 12 AD, had built huge ships on Lake Nemi. One was used as a temple and the other was an elaborate floating palace, which had marble, mosaic floors and plumbing (large baths). The ships were sunk after the overthrow of Caligula. They were later discovered by the Renaissance, but they were never able to raise the ships. Mussolini finally brought the ships up by lowering the water level of the lake. They were on display for about 10 years, until they were destroyed during World War II. What a pitty, those would have been pretty cool to see.

That is a nice history of Nemi. However, it has nothing at all to do with the reasons I loved Nemi (except maybe for the beautiful lake that it overlooks).

I loved Nemi for its famous strawberries. They are everywhere! They have a big festival every summer during the harvest; it is called 'Sagra delle Fragola'. (I guess similar to Pleasant Grove's Strawberry days, but I think much, much more quaint...no carnivals here!) Their strawberries are tiny, but taste amazing. They are grown in the woods around Nemi.

They are also known for their yummy strawberry tarts...oh, these pictures of the food in Italy are killing me!

All over the little town were these displays of berries. Can you believe they put this much work into their displays each day? Amazing.


I also fell in love with all the darling shops there. No Wal-marts here, no way! They had little bakery shops...

This is a woman that we saw all evening, delivering freshly baked bread to the restaurants.

They had tons of butcher shops, that were so interesting. But, they smelled really, really bad inside. That is a job I would never like to have.




They had Gelato shops...

These women were just sitting here all afternoon, eating gelato (before dinner, I might add). I really, really want to move to Italy!

This was a lace shop, where the proprietor was sitting outside tatting (making the lace by hand). We fell in love with a beautiful tablecloth inside the shop. Pam wanted it really bad and decided that if it was under $200, she would buy it. We asked how much, and now I can't remember exactly, but it was over 1,000 Eros!


They had fruit shops...

All the businesses had such nice touches...they were clean, well taken care of and decorated beautifully.

I posted before about all of the fountains with drinkable water. This one was a fun one in Nemi. However, it was effervescent, like carbonated water. It is what came up from the well, the natural water there. I didn't care for the taste much...but the fountain was pretty!


We went on a walk over to the edge, to see the view of the lake. It was really a beautiful path with lots of green fountains.

This is a picture from Andre's camera (actually a lot of the pictures are from his camera...my battery died, then I started using Karen's until her battery died, then we used Andre's), if you look closely, you can see Karen and I on the edge of the cliff, overlooking the lake. I thought it was a cool shot.

We walked around the streets a bit, looking for this crazy restaurant that Acersons tell stories about.

While wandering, we ran into this lady. She was looking for some of her cats.

We started visiting with her and ended up staying there, on her front steps, for probably 30 minutes.

She was so sweet, and so lonely. She said that her family had always lived there, that she was born there. She would always stop and yell at motorcycles that would drive by and tell them to be quiet. I told Karen that she should have Stephanie go and visit her someday. She had a ton of cats and Stephanie is such an animal lover. I'm sure they would get along just wonderfully.

This picture was taken from her steps, it was just across the street from her house. We asked her how old that vine was, she said over 100 years old.

Then we went to see the famous Elvis restaurant that the Acersons are always telling stories about. I really need Karen to jump in here and tell the story, but she is doing transfers today, so I can't bug her. I will have to try on my own, and she can (and will) correct me later.

I think the first time that Karen & Jeff found this place was on her birthday. They happened upon Nemi once before and fell in love with it. Jeff decided to take Karen there for a romantic dinner, as she was so sad to be away from home on her birthday. They went to this restaurant and the whole thing was so humorous. This young man, who looked just like Elvis, was their waiter. He would help them once in a while, but was mostly over at another table with his girlfriend, being extremely friendly (the restaurant was empty, I think, except for their two tables). The grandma and grandpa were cooking in the back kitchen, and had the t.v. blaring...just as loud as it could go. After dinner the boy found out that they were from America and wanted to show them all of his Elvis memorabilia. I think he may have even showed them his Elvis costume that he wears.

He has a Kawasaki motorcycle that he is so proud of. He made Karen go out and take pictures of him on the bike. (This is a picture as he drove by. We were talking to the cat lady and she was yelling at him to be quiet!)

When we came to see the restaurant this time, we saw this ramp on the step leading to the front door. We laughed our heads off. We didn't eat here, even though we ran into the young man and he was insistent that we eat there, as he remembers them very well.

This was the restaurant we chose to eat at. President Acerson went off on a quest to find out where the locals love to eat. It was hard getting information out of anyone, as they didn't ever want to tell you the truth...it might offend their friends or family. He finally got it out of a couple of people that this one was the best. He quickly made friends with a boy whose family ran it, who was really sweet. He was going to New York that next week and was excited to practice his English on us.

We absolutely loved the food. It was the best restaraunt we ate at in all of Italy.

And, now for the main reason that I loved Nemi. I don't think that many people know about this place. It is hard to get to, and so close to Rome that everyone probably has plenty to see...they don't explore much. This town is just full of locals…no tourists at all (except for us). After dinner, we just sat around for a while and watched everyone. This is what we saw...

This man probably sat here for hours. The lady was sitting there for a long time as well, until a friend came to walk her home.

As I was watching them walk home, with the lady so sweetly holding onto her arm, I saw this drive by...

A wedding car with a bride and groom inside... (I love how they decorate the cars over here...flowers tied to them, so much classier than the shaving cream, Oreos, and "Just Married written all over with soap.)

They stopped and greeted the ladies walking up the street, as well as the baker who was delivering bread hours before.

These people were just sitting across from us. They had probably been sitting there for hours as well. Wow, now this is the life. Rick, can we retire here, pretty please?

Nemi...my favorite "quaint village" in all of Italy.

4 comments:

Kim said...

You are so beautiful in these pictures...You look free! I need a vacation. haha. I love these posts. Thanks for doing them!

Jennifer said...

Ellen, I love reading about your trip, makes me want to go. It's so beautiful! You look like you had such a great time. :)

Kenny, Jill and Aiden said...

What a cute place! I dream of going to a place like that. Oh and by the way, can you please warn me next time you post pictures of delicous food? I was already starving before looking through this post, and now I have to go find somethig much less appetizing than what was pictured here.

Patrick Chevallier said...

I was in Nemi in February, liked it so much that I will house-sit in august. Can't wait to be back!

Thanks for sharing your impressions, your post is just beautiful.