There’s more to San Rafeu than meets the eye

One of the chief blessings of spending time in Provence is getting to explore its Roman and Romanesque heritage. Today I wandered through the streets of St Raphael, that locals call St Raph but I call “Sân Rafaelică fără frică” (rom. for fearless St Raphael), that is fear of capsizing under the weight of its tourists. The waterfront might be an eyesore for those avid for remote, hotel-less beaches and untamed nature. The old town, on the other hand, is a dreamy piece of heaven with winding streets and an exalted tower church, dating back from the 12th century, when the newly evolved village of St-Raphael became a dependency of the Templars.    Perched in the same courtyard, there’s the archeological museum, shelter to the patrimoine stretching from the Neolithic to the early Modern period (a couple of rescued 18th century ship cannons and some jewellery.

A typical building in the old quarter
The church apse with lofty tower
Memento quod fuisti
This building might very well have been a chapel. Notice the bell arch.


Simple, practical and cute
The future of museum guiding. The QR code actually works. They even have an iPad app for exploring the exhibits
Collection of amphorae recovered from Roman wreckage off the coast of St Raphael
The grand-grand father of modern GPS navigation. Via Aurelia connected Rome to Arles in France.
A reconstruction of a Roman anchor (not Rai Uno) using the witness of recovered anchor heads.
The impressive craftsmanship of Roman water pumps onboard ships.
This is the tool Romans used to make “garum” in, which was the ultimate fish sauce of the empire. See below for ancient recipe.

An ancient recipe for garum derived from Apicius’ cookbook:

Use fatty fish, for example, sardines, and a well-sealed (pitched) container with a 26-35 quart capacity. Add dried, aromatic herbs possessing a strong flavor, such as dill, coriander, fennel, celery, mint, oregano, and others, making a layer on the bottom of the container; then put down a layer of fish (if small, leave them whole, if large, use pieces) and over this, add a layer of salt two fingers high. Repeat these layers until the container is filled. Let it rest for seven days in the sun. Then mix the sauce daily for 20 days. After that, it becomes a liquid.

On this note, farewell, I’m off to dinner.

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