There are a thousand reasons to come to Sonnino but we want to give you just two and a half.
The first is the Museum of the Borderlands that already in its name contains all the history of this medieval village perched on Colle Sant’Angelo in the Ausoni Mountains. Sonnino is on the border: for centuries over 2000 years ago between the Volsci and the Romans and then again for centuries between the Papal State and the Bourbon Kingdom.
And where there is a boundary there are often stories to tell: if the border is open there are cultural exchanges and contaminations, if the border is closed there are bandits and adventure stories.
Sonnino has both, a mixture that remains above all in the kitchen and so many stories of bandits to the point that on 18 July 1819 Cardinal Consalvi proclaimed the Edict for the destruction of the town because it was a den of bandits.
According to the edict all the inhabitants had to be taken elsewhere and their homes destroyed. But, thanks to the intercession of Don Gaspare Del Bufalo (1786-1837), this happened only in part with the destruction of 39 houses. Today he is a saint and founder of the Congregazione Missionari del Preziosissimo Sangue (Missionaries of the Precious Blood).
The museum tells with artistic installationsexamples the history of bandits and the legendary Antonio Gasbarrone di Sonnino who had become a famous character and much appreciated by women in search of excitement from all over Europe.
The second reason to visit Sonnino is because of the food and traditional local dishes. All the products of the earth and the grasses of the meadows are affected by a particular atmosphere that carries the scents of the sea and those of the mountains. It is a karst area that creates a unique microclimate that is reflected in the aromas of the crops.
For those who like to taste local products and dishes, Sonnino is famous for its “Zazzicchia di Sonnino” also celebrated in a very popular local festival. You can find it in butchers or restaurants. If you are lucky you can participate in the preparation of this famous sausage.
Try the goat meat that is cooked in different ways. Goats live free in the mountains and besides giving a tasty milk for exceptional cheeses, they are also one of the traditional dishes.
Some times you can eat the Bazzoffia, a bread soup with seasonal vegetables that is part of the local specialties. First a soup is prepared from vegetables picked in the fields and with onions, then this is put in a pan with layers of bread and heated in the oven. A delight.
Obviously everything is seasoned with extra virgin olive oil made with Itrane olives, which are perhaps best known as Olive di Gaeta from the name of the nearby port of Gaeta where they were shipped to reach all of Europe. In Sonnino olives are also prepared in various ways to be enjoyed throughout the year and olive paste spreads are also prepared.
Lunch ends with the famous Fichi Secchi, cheese and honey. Some producers have started preparing a pistachio cream in olive oil: what more could you ask for?
The ‘half’ reason to come to Sonnino depends on the period you choose. A visit is a fine experience every day of the year but on a particular May weekend you can experience one of the most evocative celebrations in Italy: the Torch Festival. This night festival resurrects an ancient pagan festival and in a nocturnal procession the inhabitants travel along the town’s border on the countryside footpaths in the mountains illuminated by torchlights, a kind of large candles that are still made by hand.