Monday, February 9, 2015

Giro di Lago Bracciano

I guess you could call this another in our "Sunday in Paradise" series.

On a cool but clear Sunday morning we jumped on our road bikes (whee!) and after a cappuccino stop zipped down to the St. Peter's train station and hopped on a train to Anguillara. You can get on the train here with your bike though there's supposed to be an extra charge. We didn't pay it since we couldn't figure out exactly how it's done, but on a quiet Sunday morning nobody (including the ticket-taker) seemed to care, so we just parked our bikes inside the doors and held onto them for the short ride. Above you see Heather as we get off the train near Lago Bracciano.  Water from this lake flows into the Fontana Grande, just steps away from the Academy. If you've seen the film La Grande Bellezza, you've seen this fountain.

We rode up into the small village of Anguillara in search of a place for lunch. Some things must be secured in advance! The place Larry had chosen turned out to be closed for vacation but Heather spied a nearby place with a panoramic view of the lake, but no place to park the bikes. This was quickly handled when the nice lady inside told us she'd open their across-the-street (and by street we mean vicolo - barely wide enough for one medium-sized car) storage room and lock 'em up in there. Perfetto! A quick pose for a photo on the way out of the town center as you see above and we were on our way.

This being February we were bundled up with tights, long-sleeves and windbreaker or vest. No toe covers or full-fingered gloves, but we were happy to be in the sunshine as the shady spots were rather chilly. We were lucky there was almost zero wind after the low-pressure we'd been under for most of the past week had finally moved on.

It's about 40 kms around the lake, perfect to spin the legs and generate an appetite for Sunday pranzo. The pavement was generally good and we saw plenty of riders on the road, though it's kind of amusing to see how bundled up the Italians always are when it's less than 80 degrees F. Most had balaclavas and bandanas over their faces, as if the air might freeze their lungs? For people who have endured a lot of winters in Iowa it was very pleasant - we didn't sweat much!

We thought about doing a little climb to add to the ride but decided to save that for next time and move directly around to our reserved table for Sunday pranzo. We don't get much seafood here at the Academy so the mare section of the menu got our instant attention. We ordered up a cold seafood selection to start, though the nice folks at Ristorante Belvedere di Mangascia treated us to bruschetta al pomodoro and glasses of prosecco as soon as we sat down. We ordered a bottle of Greco del Sannio once the prosecco was finished, as the local white from nearby Trevignano was so cheap Larry feared it couldn't be very good.

The Greco turned out to be excellent, perfect for the base di pesce (fish based) selections we chose including a tasty spaghetti alla scoglio* you can see Larry waiting to enjoy above.

Followed by this grigliata mista di pesce. Simple but a real treat since we've not had much seafood in recent weeks. We wanted sorbetto di limone to refresh after this but they'd run out. We skipped desert as a result but the nice folks brought some very tasty cookies (think of classic cantucci but soft and fresh) to go with our espresso. Very satisfied, we reclaimed our bikes and rode back to the train station through the huge porta (gate) you see below.

We were too early for the return train from Anguillara so we decided to ride towards Rome and catch it closer to "home". This road was far less tranquil than our around-the-lake route but it was a quiet Sunday afternoon and the ride was far better than sitting around at the train station for half-an-hour. We were back at St. Peter's by 5 PM with just a short uphill ride (much easier than when we're slogging up this on MTB's!) to get back to the Academy. Watching the GP degli Etruschi bike race on TV later that evening completed another Domenica in paradiso!

*this is not the recipe from Mangascia but rather a cute video that explains the idea well.

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