So much has been happening in Italy’s food and wine world, in recent years – just consider the Slow Food movement and Eataly - which have contributed to make Italy a world leader in food culture. This property - with Storygardenz and Tuscia University - has contributed with its interest in food asindividual elements (ELEMENTA) (*1), in ethnobotanical lore (*2) and in CONVIVIUM, the art of sharing good food and conversation with fine kindred spirits.
Elementa is about food elements and best prime ingredient which retain their identity on a plate, which are eaten in season and from local producers. Elementa in Italian cookery reign supreme – artichokes, fava beans, pecorino cheese, truffles and there is a strong culture of seasonality and locality (buying from producers – or zero kilometers). Seasonality and locality ensures goodness and health. Vegetable and fruit are not just vitamin and mineral complexes. They are life-giving force. This diminishes quickly after picking. Elementa also implies light cooking and light seasoning of food ingredients – with few heavy sauces – so that their individuality may shine out.
Misticanza: (wild meadow grass salad) is perhaps the best illustration of what elementa means. Most people would look at a meadow and say: “it’s a field of grass”. Italians, on the other hand, make salad with it. How often in Italy you see people browsing in fields with a bag, picking chicory, escarole, dandelion greens, crunchy radicchio and then going home and serving them with extra virgin olive oil and lemon, or balsamic vinegar. Misticanza - which means "mystical mix" from misto and mistico - is about that vast and diverse ecosystem, it's edible art and a reminder that life is bitter sweet.
All the houses at Roman Villa Silj (RVS) are self-catering but we serve meals to our guests, when they require it. We do a fixed menu based on the best daily ingredients available, in season and from the local territory (“zero kilometers”). We cook and season food lightly, with few heavy sauces, leaving the elementa to shine out, informal and authoritative.
Our food and wine story
Catering solutions and sample menus
(*1) ethnobotanical lore is about the observation of human-plant relationship, which can be experienced through geo-located stories arising from beliefs, myths, instructions, songs, art forms, rituals, recipes, and practices. Some of the psychoactive species and their lore carry us deep into realms of ritual, mythology and cosmology. Sometimes, in ethnobotanical inquiry, we call upon ancient history, or colonial socio-economic histories, or even examine the roots of our modern social movements.
Convivium, in Latin, means “conviviality”, which is the sharing of good food and conversation with kindred spirits. Convivium is an old tradition here at RVS. You can say it began in the 1st century AD with Emperor Augustus, who built his country villa, here.
In the 19th century, 14,000 hectares were purchased by our family, Silj, Marquises of Sant’Andrea di Ussita and a great farming estate was created. We produced cheese (from both cow and sheep milk), milk, poultry, lamb, corn, fruit, vegetables and wine. In 1948, after the war, my uncle Pio Silj began to patronize a group of artists – known as the Convivium Romanum – who met at RVS regularly, to paint, eat, drink, and talk about art.
Many of their works are still hanging in the main villa. One picture in the dining room shows Pio’s wife Oddina – the redhead – sitting pensively at the dining table.
“23,16 hours the Marchesa Silj, is busy elaborating a menu for her artist friends for tomorrow, first Sunday of May 1950: dry antipasto ? spaghetti with ragout, lamb and chicken arrabbiata, rumble-tumble artichokes, broad beans, peas and Falleri wines, ad libitum.” The picture is signed by Paulo Ghiglia, S. Meyer, Giulio Boetto.
The Convivium tradition continued, when we came to live here in 1988. I gave it a strong extension into storytelling. For how could food and conviviality be separated from storytelling? We have watched our guests dine on tales of heroes and legends. Some of these were compiled into “The Garden of Lemniscati”, which is a book “cultivated like a garden”, a garden “written like a book”, where the myth of so many ancient food elements – corn, wine, olive oil, cheese, pomegranate, barley, fennel – accompany the stories. For what is myth if not the interpretation of nature and the human mind before science and psychology?
Imagine men, sitting around fires, telling tales about animals, plants, seasons, dreams, all enveloped in a vast spirit world.
Imagine people round a dining table under a harvest moon…
Bernard Anson Silj (proprietor)
Take a hands-on cooking lesson here in Lemniscati, based on our philosophy (see Food and Wine culture). Decide the menu, shop for ingredients, then cook together and enjoy your meal alongside our skilled local cook.
Wine tasting events can take place with Piero and Chantal in our garden or in theiratmospheric wine bar, nearby..Piero Presta, international chef and sommelier, selector of “miraculous” wines from all regions of Italy. Chantal Corso, artist and wine lover.
The food of Rome and Lazio is strong, intense, simple and genuine: gnocchi (potato dumplings with sauce), pasta Carbonara and Amatriciana, porchetta (delicious roasted pork), spring lamb, Trastevere tripe, oxtail stew (Vaccinara) and saltimbocca alla romana. And then there are the vegetables for Romans have a special relationship with seasonal vegetables: Roman artichokes, fave broad beans, asparagus, misticanza (wild meadow grass salad) ….. In addition there is the famous Jewish Roman cuisine, since Rome has the oldest standing Jewish community outside Israel. Add to that, Lazio’s cookery has been experiencing a recent cross fertilization from other Italian and Mediterranean regions. It is very exciting. We can organize tours gastronomic both in ancient Roman and Jewish gastronomic lore and also contemporary Roman fusion.
WELCOME DINNER: (once only special rate for guests) €uro 28 /adult * €uro 12 / children (under 10 years old) (see sample menu below)
DINNER: €uro 30-40 / head depending on choice (fillet, fresh fish, special wines cost more)
WEDDING DINNERS: see Wedding Menus on Weddings page
BREAKFAST: €uro 9 Continental breakfast (juice, tea, coffee, toast/bread, yoghurt, jam, sliced cheese) €uro 12 Full cooked breakfast (all the above plus eggs, sausages etc.)
HALF BOARD: Bkfast & dinner: €uro 36/adult + €uro 21/child under 10 years.
WINE TASTING: (min. 10 guests) (1) with appetizers €uro 25 / head (2) with full dinner €uro 45 /person
HOME DELIVERY Home delivery of pizza or sushi is possible on some days. Please ask for details.
VERANDA SERVICE: Please let us know if you want to organize your own group meal under the Cocon veranda. We can prepare the tables for you and clear up after you for a service charge of €uro 50.
(These vary according to season; we serve a set menu – not à la carte - but can take orders - eg. fresh fish - beforehand)
Antipasti-Starters: Various bruschette (eg. with fresh tomato and basil * red Calabria onion marmalade * tuna * asparagus mousse etc.), polpette (risolles) with eggplant or ricotta or melanzane (eggplant) * humus (chick pea mousse) * girelle (pastry) with zucchini * couscous * nduja (spicy, spreadable pork sausage) * caprese (fresh tomato and mozzarella) etc...
First courses: orecchiette patate and ruccola * penne alle erbe * lasagne or baked pasta (with radicchio-chicory, vegetable or meat) * crepes * minestrone with garden vegetables * eggplant parmigiana with black chocolate.
Main courses: pasticcio with potatoes, prosciutto (Parma Ham) and cheese * torta rustica * pork with prune and apple sauce * pollo agli agrumi o limone (chicken with citrus or lemon * polpettone * Guinea fowl with black olives. All main courses are served with fresh vegetables and salads, especially misticanza (mixed leaf and meadow grass- see notes above).
Sweet: crostata * torta di mele * tiramisù * mousse * fruit gelato or Sicilian gelato with cream honey saffron and orange peel * Chilled melon/water melon on hot summer nights.
Other: espresso coffee * mineral water * bread * organic house wine (red and white) superior wines are extra (see below). Fresh bread.
Specials needs and gourmet: Gourmet foods are available but are best ordered the day before (eg. buffalo mozzarella, prosciutto di Parma, roman artichokes etc.). Options are also available for vegetarians and special needs (intolerances etc.)
Children specials: Well, here, the aim is to keep children happy – which makes the parents happy: a single main course of what children “like” (pasta with fresh tomato and parmesan / hot dogs / hamburgers / roast chicken / chips), accompanied by something parents “like” (fresh salads / fresh vegetables). Dessert follows (typically gelato).
Wines If you enjoy wine, you should know about our associates Vinamor, a very gifted wine selecting team. They seek small hidden, secret, vineyards around the Italian peninsula. You won’t be able to find these wines in supermarkets because their production is not great enough and tends to be sold to private buyers, like us. You will be astonished at their quality, with prices very affordable. Wine perfectly embodies Italy’s bewildering talent, bio-diversity and ethno-botanical lore. Wine tasting Each season we offer a choice of 5-10 favourites, red and white. Here are just some examples: