Like so many visitors to Italy, I get trapped in the beautiful inner city of Rome, with its Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain and, of course, the Vatican, but venture east 26 miles and you’ll find Zagarolo, an ancient village, where life is lived in the style of centuries past.
Walking into the town’s bakery from a narrow side street, I felt transported hundreds of years into the past. My friend and I ate crispy biscotti fresh from the 300-year-old ovens before walking along the uneven paved street to the salami shop, where local women, who have worked in the shop for years, piled high slices of salami, prosciutto and meats with names I couldn’t begin to pronounce.
Next we walked along the top of the hillside and looked down at the vineyards and surrounding small villages that dotted the landscape, then it was back to the center of the village, marked by a water fountain. The locals, the men gathered in one area and the women in another, were telling stories using plenty of hand gestures in a lively Italian manner.
As they gazed at me, obviously an American, straining my neck to take in the quaint buildings, streets and atmosphere of this small town, they offered courteous smiles and nods.