We decided to head for the beautiful mountain forests of the Monti Cimini. We arrived just in time for lunch and enjoyed a really great meal in this totally isolated wooden mountain restaurant called Baita La Faggeta. I have to admit we were both taken aback by the quality of food, service and surroundings - it just wasn't what we expected in the middle of a forest - and having seen their website (which doesn't really do the place justice) we we're expecting mud and walking boots.
Ordinarily I'm not keen on porcini mushrooms but guided by the owner I decided to give them another chance so I had the home-made fettuccine with truffle sauce and porcini - so tastey, with the porcini chopped up small just as I'd requested and the aroma was amazing. My dining partner chose the brazed wild boar starter with salad and parmesan shavings, and for main course the fettuccine with wild boar and tomato ragu. For dessert we shared a crema catalana (one each would have been greedy) but I forgot to take a photo of it (too busy diving in with my spoon).
We enjoyed the wine we had with our meal so much that we decided to go in search of it! All we had to go on was a name: Fufluns, and the name of the nearest town to where the producer is based: Gallese, but we didn't find any info on internet and the signal kept disappearing anyway.
We stopped a few times to ask various locals if they knew the address. We also discovered that Fufluns was the Etruscan god of wine, akin to Bacchus (Roman mythology) and Dionysus (Greek mythology). After driving for several minutes (in a number of wrong directions) we eventually (internet signal returned) managed to end up in the right area.
After asking a few more locals we found the place - or, if I'm honest, one of the very nice chaps we asked for directions lead the way in his vehicle and we followed him in ours. It was not easy to find but we got there in the end (anything for a bottle of wine). So, here we are, with several bottles of Fufluns in the fridge (and in my glass). You can drink this wine by itself (of course) but it is better with cold meals or cheeses.
INTO THE TREES . . . .
There are a few routes to choose from in this pretty huge forest, starting with the wooden trail - which makes you feel as though you're following the yellow brick road from Wizard of Oz. During the week (nobody around) there is an eerie silence and you feel as though you're being watched (by the wildlife). Weekends are decidedly busier.
At the top of a long ridge inside one area of the extensive beech forest (one of the most southerly Beech forests in Europe), which dominates this territory, is a series of dark pebble shapes. As one get closer, the phenomenon seems even more curious. These pebbles vary in size, from about 30 cm in diameter to ones taller than a man, and look as though they have been placed there by giants.
Actually, this curious formation is thought to have occurred when the top of Vico volcano (which, since 138,000 years ago is now Vico lake) blew off, sending molten lava, debris and ash high into the atmosphere and, as it came down again, the parts that landed on this mountain - on account of their chemical composition - cooled into these pebble shapes.
This attractive and unusual area can be incorporated into our Private Day Trips of the Tuscia territory and can include castles or villa visits, wine & olive oil tasting, or a quick stop at a chocolate factory shop, set in attractive agricultural land of acres of hazelnut trees, for which this area is famous.