The Al Fresco Pleasures of July

Piazza Santa Maria Salome, Veroli

Piazza Santa Maria Salome, Veroli

July is the month for outdoor events and festivals. Many events are held in gardens not normally open to the public.

Villa Medici, Rome

Villa Medici, Rome

The Villa Medici near the Spanish Steps hosted a 2-week film festival featuring Isabel Huppert which was held outdoors in their gorgeous garden overlooking the centre of Rome. The Portuguese embassy had a festival featuring a Fado singer and a group from Capo Verde among others, in their embassy garden. There are regular screenings of movies outdoors and concerts in parks, courtyards and piazzas. People are enjoying wandering around and so far the weather has been very pleasant with few unbearably hot days.

Veroli Street

Veroli Street

The beaches as you can imagine are crowded and we tend to avoid them especially during the weekends. However, there are many villages in the mountains, many with festivals of their own. Yesterday, we went to a beautiful little medieval town called Veroli southeast of Rome to listen to a group, the Tammurriata di Scafati, playing a traditional form of folk music called tamurriata to which people do a folk dance. We arrived in the late afternoon so that we had time to wander around the village which is really very quaint and has no tourists which is a shame for such a lovely little village.

Of course, dinner was high on our list of priorities and one of the locals recommended a restaurant where the food was excellent. Luckily, it had a terrace and we were able to dine al fresco with a spectacular view overlooking the valley.

Black Truffles and Risotto

Black Truffles and Risotto

They had just got the first black truffles of the season so of course, I had risotto with shavings of black truffles which was delicious. I really don’t know how to describe the taste except to say that it is earthy with an aroma of the forest floor and a rich, slightly peppery taste with a hint of dark chocolate.

We finished dinner and strolled to the Piazza in front of one of the main churches where the group was playing. The vocal element is strong in the tammurriata and one of the main instruments is a tamorra which is essentially a tambourine. Other instruments included a form of bagpipes, various interesting and unusual percussion instruments, a type of guitar, and the usual accordion.

Tammurriata di Scatafi

Tammurriata di Scafati

As soon as the music started, people got up to dance with feathered castanets in hand. There was much whirling and swaying which increased in speed as the music got faster. Really quite hypnotic. The, best part was the singer who had a powerful voice and set the pace. Apparently, this music originated from around Naples and dates back to pre-christian times. It is popular in villages around Naples but was apparently slowly dying out. The Tammuriatta di Scafati are a modern day group who have played a large role in reviving the tradition. I noticed a lot of young women getting up to dance and it was good to see that the tradition carries on.

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