When in Rome in October, take the family on "Gite fuori porta"

Chestnuts call as Rome’s “gite fuori porta” kick into full swing each October.

Have you hear of the “Gite fuori porta”? If you have the good fortune to visit Rome in October – with children OR without – you won’t want to miss out on this savory, local tradition. Explaining the finer points of these “Day Trips Out of the Roman Gate” known as the “Gite fuori porta” that are the highlight of every family living in Rome at this time of year, is Roman native since birth Valeria Spizzichino, who founded Baby Riders IT, the first Baby Gear Rental Agency in all of Italy.

Maybe it is not a well-known fact, but Rome is the greenest European capital. The several parks, gardens, and ville belong to the life of Romans. To have a ride in Villa Pamphili or watch a concert in Villa Borghese is like reading the newspaper in the Jardin de Luxembourg for the Parisians  or going to jogging in the Central Park for the New Yorkers. But in this period of October, the woods just outside the town steal the show to those inside. In fact in this period a lot of families use to spend their weekends in search of chestnuts in the autumnal woods close to Rome. 

The  gite fuori porta, literally one day trips out of the Roman gate, are the perfect excuse to have a chat with friends, to make kids have a good time and, overall, to have a picnic. There are several places famous for their chestnut woods and one is just spoiled by the number of choices. For example those along the “Truffle and Chestnut Route,” or the wonderful Monte Navegna. At the Castelli Romani there are many beaten paths interesting from both the natural and cultural point of view. Nevertheless, if one does not feel like walking she/he can taste chestnuts at one of the numerous town festivals.
Chestnuts at a Roman market.

After having chosen the location, the menu of the picnic has to be decided. Obviously there’s not a rule, but usually panini (sandwiches) and torte rustiche (savory pies) boss the show. There’s something to suit everybody’s fancy: sandwiches with frittata (potatoes, zucchini, artichokes) or with fresh cheese and prosciutto cotto (cooked ham) will be very appreciated by the youngest kids. For their parents, sandwiches with sausages and broccoli, green vegetables or the evergreen prosciutto crudo (row ham) and mozzarella cheese. For everybody crudités (small tomatoes, carrots, fennels), dried salami and biscuits.

Once back home, if one has been lucky, there will be a basket of chestnuts to be used. Depending on tastes (and available time) they can be boiled, roasted, used for meat dishes, jams and cakes. The most popular way to eat them is roasted (in this case, in Rome, chestnuts are called caldarroste) as those sold (great cost) at every corner downtown.
But we cannot forget the cakes, mainly the so called castagnaccio, made with eggs, raisin, pine nuts and chestnut flour, and the very gorgeous mont blanc (made with a sweet mashed chestnuts, meringues and whipped cream)! The jam is perfect on bread and to prepare a homemade chestnut ice cream.
So one can say that to going trekking was really worth it!

Homemade chestnut jam.

This post is part of the new Travels with Baby Traditions series, where we’ll be exploring the favorite activities, sights and traditions of families in destinations across worldwide. Thanks so much to Ms. Spizzichino, our guest blogger today, who contributed this post and the fun pictures found here. If you would like to contribute a guest post to this series, please email a short summary and bio to contact at Travels with Baby (dot) com for consideration

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Shelly Rivoli
Author of the award-winning Travels with Baby guidebooks

All content of this blog (c) Shelly Rivoli 2007 – 2011