Rieti is a city in Lazio and is about 100 km away from central Rome. After an idyllic road trip accompanied by greeneries and the rolling hills, you’ll find yourself there.
It’s such a pretty place and everywhere you go, is such a postcard perfect shot. Being near this river made me feel so tranquil.
The mountains in the background should be Terminillo, where Cart and I visited some time back.
There is a spot in Rieti where you could stand, to be right in the middle of Italy.
But apart from the picturesque view, Cart and I were here for their annual Chilli festival. This year is their 4th edition and we were excited to attend our first fiera del peperoncino.
I loved seeing the fresh and vibrant colours of the chilli. Growing up in Singapore, I was used to and cultivated a love for eating hot food. Walking around, the thing that came to mind, was how my family would have loved being here.
Did you know that chillies actually originated in the Americas? It then spread around the world and now India is the largest producer and consumer of chillies.
Despite what I initially thought before living here, a lot of Italians, especially those from the South, appreciate and love chillies especially seeing the sheer amount of visitors there, carrying along with them their bundles of newly purchased pots of chilli plants.
The types of chillies that I saw came in a variety of strength or the level of capsaicin, from the mild, to the very hot. This level even has it’s own measurement called the Scoville heat units or SHU. For example :
- Bell Pepper – 0 SHU (Not hot at all)
- Jalapeño – 2,500-8,000 SHU
- Habanero – 100,000–350,000 SHU (Hot!)
Cart and I managed to try some Trinidad Scorpion, Bhut Jolokia and Naga Viper at a friend’s house the other day. Each one of these are more than 1.4M SHU. At first bite, you don’t feel it so much but the heat intensifies and grow bigger as time passes by and your eyes will tear up and your nose will dribble and you’d question yourself about the meaning of life.
Non chilli eaters would probably ask why torture yourself and inflicting self pain to yourself, but after you get over it, you get the blissful feeling of euphoria. Kind of like a jogger’s high.
When we reached there, there were a number of award winning chillies for sale and you could get for yourself, your own pots of chilli plants from 5 euro and above.
There were so many varieties that it boggles the mind that after a while, I just could not keep track of the kinds that I saw but there were a number which was unique to me, such as the purple chilli as seen in the picture above, as well as these white, round ones. Something that I’ve never seen before.
These are called “Capezzoli di Scimmia”. Ask your Italian friends to translate what it means in English 🙂
As we walked past a restaurant, and while we didn’t eat here, I was amused to see the menu. Chilli in at least one of the meals, even the dessert!
In the end, Cart and I got two pots while our friend Stefano went all out and got I think 4 big pots altogether.
There was hardly any space in the car as the chillies instead took more space than me! Haha
All in all, I had a most lovely time exploring beautiful Rieti as well as enjoying the chilli festival with our lovely friends.
What other festivals will we go to next?
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