Thursday, May 12, 2011

Zagarolo: Il paese per pace

A view of the green hills surrounding Zagarolo

A peaceful village

I drove the winding road into Zagarolo this morning, an activity I'm beginning to enjoy. The roads are narrow, but there's little traffic, and it's a pleasant journey into the village. Two small Italian cars barely fit on the narrow road, and there's no shoulder to provide leeway, so if you come upon a tractor or cyclists, there's an art to passing them with finesse. I enjoy the challenge! To and fro, up and down, so goes the road into Zagarolo.

The road coming into Zagarolo

Along the road, every house has its own vineyard, its own olive orchard. The hills are covered with the new growth of grapevines, and it's a lovely sight. Sometimes I can hardly believe I am here! Several years ago I had a vision, a hope of living near a small Italian village, but no real understanding of how it might be possible to bring that vision to life. Ma piano, piano (but slowly), it's come about, and here I am, living the dream.

Il vigneto, the vineyard: a common sight in these parts

In Zagarolo, I stop to buy gas, 10 - 20 euros at a time. Gas is sold by the liter here, and for 20 euros I can get about 12.5 liters, or 3.3 gallons. That means gas costs @ $9 per gallon in Italy. And you thought prices were high in the U.S.! People often buy a few liters at a time and try to make the most of it.

After that, I park the car and walk to the Bancomat and withdraw money to last the next few weeks. I don't need much, as my only real expenses are food and gas, and I earn 40 euros/week helping two women practice their English. I stroll down the main street of Zagarolo, which you can also do by going to Google maps, typing in Zagarolo, Italy, and choosing the street view (click on the yellow man). With a little bit of playing around, you will find yourself on Via Fabrini, or Borgo San Martino, the very streets that I walk along in the sleepy village atop the tufa hill.

I stop in for a cappuccino at Paola's bar, then continue down the street to Porta San Martino, which serves as a gate at one end of town. Then I turn around and walk back the same way, taking time to explore some of the side vicoli (alleys). The anziani zagarolesi (elderly citizens) sit together on new wooden benches that line the street, chatting. Young mothers pass by with their babies in strollers, often speaking into a cell phone as they go.

Porta San Martino and the street beyond, Borgo San Martino

In one of the piazzas, I come upon a smaller open market, with a display of vegetables and fruit for sale. Across the way, a man sells fresh fish from his portable stall. I notice a poster that advertises an addition to the weekly Saturday market: starting on Sunday there will be a weekly market of cibo artigianale (traditional, home grown or homemade food) from Rome. There is also a festival of some kind scheduled this Sunday, so I'm sure to be in Zagarolo most of the day to check things out.

Laundry day

Speaking of artigianale, I stop in for homemade gelato, trying a small cone of melon and amarena cherry (a sour cherry). Squisito! (Yummy!) All too soon, I'm back at the car, and heading on to Palestrina to fare la spesa (do the shopping.) Ah, Zagarolo, a me piace molto! (I really like it!)


europeanrhino said...

Lived there in Zagarolo (Colle Giacinto)for close to 14 years... Loved every single fraction of a second. The people, the town, the good morning as you walk down the street,and the fantastic food... not to mention so many other things...

marybeth said...

why were you there and why did you leave? I'm eager to get back there in a few months.!

Anonymous said...

Wow i'm amazed you both enjoyed Zagarolo so much, it can be a very frustrating town, although yes it does have it's nice aspects too. I've been here around 8 years. Nice to read your posts Marybeth very interesting to have anothers point of view of Zagarolo. Life can seem different here when you know you are leaving ...

marybeth said...

Yes, I can imagine that it would be very different if I lived there all the time, as it can be quite provincial. What brought you to Zagarolo?