Sunday, June 16, 2013

Eating Like an Italian - in Vetralla

vintage  chairs at  my front door   
A large US chain of restaurants (best not to reveal which)  recently discovered  Vetralla’s  Cene in Cantine festival  and  chose  our town  to film their newest  commercial. 
The previous locations featured were  Rome and Amalfi … so  not too bad  for  our  small town  outside Rome.  Until now Vetralla's  only claims to fame were  its excellent olive oil and the fact that since 1512  it has been  under the  protection of  the English crown .

country style seating 
 After  several pre-shoot visits by  the location finder and chief of the Italian film team, the  entire troupe of about  50  people arrived in  Vetralla   yesterday  aboard    sleek rented  vans with tinted windows.

Vicolo del Sole 
There were  executives of the advertising company in  Boston,  others from the main  Florida  office who checked  the daily  film rushes. They  were flanked  by an Italian crew  which included  location men, camera men, scenographers, actresses in high, high heels (dangerous on our cobblestones)  and drivers of the huge  vans  that  invaded  the flower decked  historic center.

meeting  the US  team
Throughout the day they shot scenes of the town’s  food and lifestyle; the grill scene in Piazza  Francosone,  the  lunch  served in  the vaulted halls  of the  Pro loco’s cantina  which included  grilled chicken and  hand made pasta-but not  served on the same plate  as  they do in these chain restaurants !  

coordinating  the film   shoot, 
The whole town will be anxiously awaiting  to see the outcome of the day’s film shoot.  Hopefully the  cameras were able to capture  the  atmosphere of the medieval streets  and  ancient  cantinas. The   local  people, including some  photogenic  young men, participated as extras  adding authenticity  to the scenes.

Sitting pretty  in Pza. S. Egidio
 For them it was also a way to  see their town  in a new light,  through  foreign eyes, and to appreciate its  humble, authentic  beauty.  

As night fell, the last scenes were filmed between the city hall and the Duomo with the actresses strolling across the piazza,  enjoying gelato and sitting on the picturesque dolphin fountains.

the film troupe  in the main piazza 
When  the long day of filming was over, about  10:30 pm , a hurrah  went up from the troupe  and hugs and  embraces  were shared with  new found Vetralla friends  before they  loaded up the trucks and vans for the  drive back to  Roman hotels and long flights back to the States.
locals served the meals and judged the best decorations 

 The   commercial they were  shooting in Vetralla   was  to  show the  Italian passion for  food, family and celebration of life, thus enticing   customers  to eat  at  their    200+ Italian themed   restaurants  located   in 33 different  US states.  

eating in the cantina of Emergency 

Pro Loco's cantina 

Wouldn’t it be nice  if  Vetralla’s  delicious extra virgin olive oil  would, one day,  be  included among the genuine  Italian foods   served  in these restaurants?
display of antique copper 
I recently ate at one of these places in New Hampshire but was disappointed with their food and customer service. The place was busy around 6 p.m. as customers did "take away" and completely empty by 8 p.m.  
For more on the Cene in Cantine festival,  use the search bar at the top of the page. 


  1. Having eaten at the original Carrabba's in Houston (in fact I was just there 2 weeks ago) since 1986 and having eaten the fare at the Bloomin' Brands (formerly known as the Outback Steakhouses)locations in the past, I must say there are significant differences between the Original versus the mass produced versions of Carrabba's, much less authentic Italian cooking.
    Mike Campbell wrote:
    The food from the Original Carrabba's on Kirby Drive in Houston and continues to be run by Johnny Carrabba and family is very much into authentic Italian cuisine, albeit a mix of his grandmother's recipes from Sicily and other more Northern recipes. The food is phenomenal there as it has been since the place opened in 1986.

    Whereas the fare at the chain locations is the typical Italian fare one can get at any Italian chain restaurant in the States, such as the Olive Garden, Buca di Beppo or the Macaroni Grill. Which is to say that they have antipasti, pasta and dolce but its Americanized for the palate of middle America.
    12 hours ago via mobile · Like

  2. Thank you Mike for your comment. I checked their menus that is why I mention the pasta with chicken.

  3. I continue to enjoy your blog and to remember with great pleasure my all-too-brief stay in Vetralla. I especially enjoyed the recent blog about the young couple Fulvio shepherded to Etruscan sites since I had visited many on my trip (alone and in the rain, alas).

    I hope to see Vetralla in the Carrabas ads. Very cool that they found their way to you.

    We ate at a Carrabas once a few years ago in Asheville North Carolina where we had gone for my daughter's college graduation. I can't say that the food was anything like the meal prepared by Fulvio at your home (please give him my best regards). But for an Italian chain restaurant here in the States I would consider it well above average. Here in Philadelphia we so many fine Italian restaurants (plenty of bad ones, too) that it is not likely that I would go to a chain restaurant, and I don't know if there is one in the city
    Marged L.

  4. i lke your post and thank's for share your informaion

  5. Last night I ate at a Carrabas restaurant in Tyngsboro MA. and enjoyed the food, but not the ambience and had to make an effort to be patient with the way customers are treated.
    I know its a cultural thing, but after 50 years in Italy I found it difficult to stay in line at the door, waiting to be shown to a table, of the waitresses choice, which was a cramped booth with a very high table. I felt suffocated, and we asked to be seated at a round table instead.
    I tried to take photos of the salad bar but was told that company policy forbids picture taking unless its a birthday party and photos may only be taken of the party table and participants,
    No olive oil on the table, it is applied in the kitchen. Bread and dishes of olive oil for dipping are given at the beginning of the meal. Waitress very present, every 5 minutes she came by to ask if everything was allright.
    The portions are very large and we two women had doggie bags to bring home half the fettuccine and half of a chicken dish. Nephew was given complimentary dessert, 2 cannoli, to bring away.
    Quite an experience.