One of my favorite things to do on the weekend is take a day trip outside of Rome to one of the many small villages that are scattered around the Lazio region. Roiate is village in the mountains of Lazio, with a population of 749. From Rome, it takes one hour by car and you get to drive through some amazing national parks in the central part of Italy.
We found this cute town by searching for "sagra" in the Lazio region and learned that they were hosting an abbacchio (lamb) festival last weekend. Combining regional food festivals and scenic drives through the Italian countryside is where it's at, so of course I forced my boyfriend and best friend visiting from home to come with.
After driving up a very steep hill, and stopping many times for necessary photo opportunities, we came to the center of the village where food tents were already set up. We bought our food tickets for €10, including a plate of lamb, a sausage, bean salad, bread, and pasta arrabbiata, as well as some arrosticini (skewered meat) for €5 and a bottle of their regional wine for €3 (one of the best parts of leaving Rome for the country).
While waiting in a rather long line, we were cut many times by seemingly harmless little old Italian women, who excused themselves with a smile and a, "scusate mi", ignoring the the grumbling protests of other locals. Otherwise, the people were friendly and welcoming, wondering where the two American girls came from and what they were doing in their small town. We had multiple conversations about our origins and why we speak "un po d'italiano". Many were more than happy to give us advice about our plans for the afternoon, explaining that the oldest library in Europe is a 20 minute drive from the village.
Obviously we were exciting about this and following a long, delicious, and meaty lunch, and a ramble up to the top of the village (for more pictures) we set off to find this mysterious library.
What they neglected to mention was that it is closed on Sunday's and you cannot enter without proof that you are an academic researching something and need access to the records in the library. Sigh. It was still very cool to see the building and surrounding area, as we drove back to Rome through other small towns.
If you have a few extra days in Rome, I highly recommend renting a car and taking it outside of the city. You can meet the nicest people and eat the most delicious food, all while being only 30 minutes to an hour outside of Italy's capital city.