First and foremost, this post is going to be quite picture heavy, so I hope it doesn’t slow down your compy/tablet/mob-phone.
It’s just that the place where I was at is so pretty. I think it’s worth the wait for the page to load, so I guess it’s a good time to get a cup of tea in the meanwhile 🙂
As you know, I met my friend Eu Chai on Thursday when he suggested that we have a day trip to Viterbo. His main agenda in going there was to meet up with his friend, but Cart and I tagged along to have a chance for a bit of sight seeing.
Viterbo is a town about 80km away from Rome and it took us about an hour to drive there. We had to go tenaciously as it was a wet and rainy day.
Thankfully the rain eased down when we reached there and the scenery I saw from where I was, looked so charming. This was taken at a little lane somewhere along Via Paradosso, which translates to Paradox Street, how cute is that?
Here, we met Eu Chai’s friend Laura who’s also a tour guide. They met on a forum, which I think is amazing because of the amount of like-minded people you can reach out to, online.
As it was already lunch time, one of our first stop was this restaurant called Muccallegra al paradosso. It’s a relatively new restaurant, being in the business for about a year or so. It looks very charming inside, surrounded by the greeneries of the garden.
Eu Chai had an ulterior motive for coming here. For weeks, he’s been raving about on facebook about “The best cheesecake that I’ve had in my life” – which sets the personal bar pretty high when you hear someone declaring it like that.
I was quite hungry at this point, so we asked for appetizers first.
So here are our trio of yummy bruschette with tomatoes, radicchio, and the basic oil and garlic (there was also another set with artichoke spread instead of oil and garlic)
We also had fried potato skins. This might seem surprising to some as this is the part that you’d usually throw away, but it’s actually really tasty and it seems that this is actually the most flavourful part of a potato.
And this was my pasta with funghi. Oh my gosh, this was so good! I love this.
The dish might not look pretty, but believe me, this pasta tastes a lot better than it looks. It was so good, and bursting with flavours. Moreover because now that we are in Autumn, you can find plentiful of quality mushroom at this time. The pasta was made with chestnut flour, which explains the light brown colour and it paired very very well with the mushroom. I really want to try to make this, but I don’t think that I’ll do it justice.
This here is the Chef’s version of a traditional Roman dish, Cacio Pepe. With a slight variation, as instead of fettucine, it uses ravioli stuffed with cheese inside. It also has pears on top. Normally I don’t really like this dish as to me, it tends to be really heavy and you get that cloying feeling in your throat, but it’s surprisingly light due to the choice of cheese inside and the pear makes it much more balanced somehow and the pepper all goes together harmoniously.
And then for our contorno, we had a pretty plate of grilled mixed vegetables (we also had cicoria, but as you know, you’ve seen them once, you know they all look the same)
And then it was the moment that Eu Chai has waited for – dessert. Or more specifically, the best cheesecake in his life. Laura and I decided to have one too, although I think it’s odd because cheesecake isn’t a typical Italian dessert, but no matter.
This was my cheesecake with Nutella.
This was Eu Chai’s slightly eaten cheesecake with fragole di bosco. These wood berries are unique as they smaller than the ones you’d normally see in supermarkets. One of the best places to find them in Italy is probably in Nemi.
This was Laura’s cheesecake with Pears and Cinnamon.
And this was Cart’s Crema Catalana, his favourite dessert. We love cracking open the glazed sugar on top.
Look at how happy Eu Chai looks here! He’s been craving for this for weeks and weeks and finally he gets to devour his beloved cheesecake.
While I did enjoy the cheesecake here, and liked the creamy consistency as well as the crumble base below, I don’t dare to call it the best cheesecake that I’ve ever had in my life. But that’s a good enough reason to go around trying more 🙂
In any case, the meal was such a dream! Absolutely heavenly and I enjoyed eating here tremendously. Cart and I spent about 24 euro each, so I think it was a good value considering how much I loved the food. So much so that at the end of the meal, Eu Chai started chatting with the chef and was joking to him I wanted to give him a kiss. Haha! What!!!
The chef looked very happy at that suggestion nevertheless, look at how he’s hugging me. :p
He originated from Rome by the way, and has been married with his wife for about 27 years. I hope that Cart and I would last that long too 🙂
I explored the restaurant a bit more and found out that it’s much bigger than I expected. I think it could seat about 100 people inside in total at one go. We even found a special setting for those romantic dates. It’s in it’s own alcove, so you don’t see anyone else but your partner.
Even the restroom looks so pretty. At the sides was a huge vase naturally illuminated by the light outside and the toilet was filled with decorations.
Outside the restaurant was absolutely gorgeous and would be a wonderful location to do photoshoots. Which is probably why the place is popular for weddings and other events.
I’m totally feeling like a noble woman walking along here!
By the way, where Eu Chai is walking towards to, there are small passages below. We managed to explore a little bit inside. It’s quite dark though. Not where it leads to, but it made me feel ala Angels and Demons somewhat.
After our lovely lunch, the four of us then took a walk towards the heart of Viterbo.
Laura informed us that below the steps, during the warmer weather, you could wash your clothes by hand with other people. They still do it even now.
Eu Chai and Laura then left us on our own for a bit as they talk business and here was when I saw the fluffiest cat I have ever seen in my life. So cute! And surprisingly affectionate. So fluffy I can die!
She’s reminds me of the kitten I saw at the cat fair some years back.
Moving on, here is the San Lorenzo Cathedral built somewhere in the 12th century.
At the other side of the piazza, there is a delightful looking path beside it.
I really like seeing the background scene through the arches. It’s a lot more impressive to be seen in person instead of just pictures though and am surprised at how little people (be it tourists or residents) that we came across, exploring this place.
I remember Laura mentioning during lunch, that it’s such a shame that smaller cities like Viterbo doesn’t get enough publicity, and it’s usually big towns like Rome, where tourists tend to go to.
She also added that there are hot springs in Viterbo, when I mentioned to her about Saturnia. I don’t remember how that conversation started, but that made me really excited to come back here again.
It’s kind of sad that a picturesque place like this isn’t admired by more people. On the other hand though, I do appreciate that there are much fewer people here. It gives it a raw and pristine beauty. You know a place becomes overly touristy when rose sellers start to bother you.
By the way, it is now twice I come across companies trying to use QR codes and twice it didn’t work.
Each time I see long pipes like these, I tend to think of Tomb Raider or Assasin’s Creed. I’m not even a gamer!
This house looks like something out of a Shakespeare play. Speaking of which, Italians are starting to claim that Shakespeare is Italian, instead of being English. Considering his immense knowledge of Italian, as well as his plays mostly based in Italy, it could even be a probability.
I so love seeing the colours of Autumn, with the leaves turning into different shades of yellows and reds and browns, it feels so very romantic.
I took some pictures of the street signs, as they looked very interesting to me. Like this one :
Piazza della morte means Square of the dead. Laura mentioned that during the dark ages, a lot of people died in this area. Quite morbid!
This one says, fish stone road. I don’t understand the connection.
Why hello there 😉
We walked by a restaurant and I noticed this. A tourist menu. I don’t usually recommend this as you don’t get to choose what you want to eat, although this could be a good choice for indecisive people.
I adore the architecture here. Walking around, it’s easy to imagine oneself back in the dark ages here. And if I’m not wrong, Viterbo also has a yearly medieval gaite festival.
Via San Pellegrino.
This is probably ignorant of me, but when I first read this I quipped, “Oh! So the water is bottled nearby huh?” Laura looked at me, not understanding. Cart had to explain to me that it had nothing to do with bottled water and was named as such because of the Pilgrim Saints (Pellegrino means pilgrims) that travelled across Europe passed here.
As a sidenote, I need to clarify that I don’t even like San Pellegrino, the drink. They managed to market themselves very well outside of Italy nevertheless and it seems that you always see them in Italian restaurants outside of Italy. There are better tasting Italian drinks to be honest.
(I sound like a snob. But it’s true!)
It was such a treat strolling along these paths, walking next to builds that has lasted for years and years. If only we had some sort of time machine, we could see how life was like back then. I imagine the buildings will look pretty much the same.
At this point, I accidentally dropped my camera while trying to reply to my handphone. My trusty but poor and long suffering camera. I’ve been using it for pretty much most of the videos and photos that you see in this blog.
I’ve dropped it quite a bit, but this fall has been so bad that the battery cover can’t close well. It still works at the moment, though I don’t know how long it will survive after this 😐
Soon, it was dusk. We then joined up with Laura and Eu Chai again and headed to an olive oil factory.
It’s easy to spot as you could spot large, white smoke coming out – emanating an earthy, robust, woody scent in the air.
Outside, I saw boxes of fresh olives.These are called canino olives and this variety is supposed to make a really good type of oil. They look so appealing.
We went in, past the factory machines – a few pressing machines and a few drums. The factory wasn’t big which could be a good thing as that means that more care is given to the product.
Soon we found ourselves in a small little museum showing how the olive oil was traditionally pressed using the tools that they’ve used in previous generations.
There was also a small path below where you could see some relics from the second world war.
I loved seeing the numerous pictures decorating the walls in the office space showing their family of past generations in various stages of work.
We were also fortunate to get the chance to meet Mario Matteucci, the fourth generation head of the factory. A charming man, passionate about olive oils, he told us that he has a son that will take over some day to keep the family tradition going.
Here he is pouring a spoonful of olive oil for us to taste. According to him, it is very healthy because of it’s taste. Personally for me, it tastes extremely delicate, almost like water. I don’t think that I’ve ever had olive oil that ‘soft’ before, although Cart says that I’ve had some while we were at a farmer’s market in Circo Massimo.
By the way, if you have your own olive berries, you could bring it here to have it pressed for you into oil.
Speaking of which, was the whole point for Cart and I for coming to Viterbo – to buy olive oil directly from the factory. We even brought our 5 litre glass bottle all the way from Rome to have it filled here.
In the end, it wasn’t needed as the oil was already packaged for us and according to Mario, transparent glass jars are not that good for olive oils as light will change the taste of the oil. So it’s better to have it in dark glass bottles or better yet, in cans.
This 5 litre can costs 40 euro and I think it’ll probably last us for some months, even if we use it every day. That’s a lot of bruschetta with olive oil and garlic 😛
(By the way, it’s pronounced broos-kett-tha and not broo-shey-tah)
In any case, I’m happy to have taken this road trip with Eu Chai, as because of him, we stumbled on the beauty of Viterbo. I am completely enchanted with this place and would love to return here again 🙂