A Promising Start
“Tre prosecco “ I knew this food tour was going to go well: it was 10.30 am in the morning – and I had flown into Rome last night from Edinburgh to meet my friend Fran who had flown from Gatwick – and we were on a four-hour eating and drinking tour with Domenico of Eating Europe Food Tours
Domenico was from The United States but has lived most of his adult life in Rome – he had Italian grandparents – and had come back to establish his Italian roots.
He spotted us being very British deliberating if it was safe to drink the water as we filled up our empty water bottles at the amphorae shaped water fountain in Testaccio.
How did you know we were your food tour guests? We asked
Because you are the only people here speaking English! He replied!
Off The Beaten Track
Testaccio – is still a tiny village of Rome and even though it is easily visited by foot from central Rome it is not on the tourist itinerary – so we felt we really were eating like a Roman. He explained the area we were in is called Testaccio – named after the artificial mountain composed of amphorae (wine jars) The name Testaccio comes from the latin Testaceus, meaning hill of “broken clay vessels”. In ancient times, the Testaccio neighborhood used to be a marketplace for people who worked along the river.
Now this area has become one of the capital’s most popular food destinations, with its distinctive offal-based cuisine – we saw the sight of the old meat market and Domenico explained that often the workers were paid in offal so quickly developed their own recipes of ‘ten top ways with tripe’ which developed into a Roman style of cuisine. He took us to the Testaccio market where we went to one of the iconic Mordi e Vai for the panino con la trippa. We weren’t brave enough to order the tripe sandwich and wimped out on a beef sandwich but I had a bite of Domenico’s and it was good – spicy with an unfamiliar soft texture. There were about 100 stalls selling fresh vege, fruit, cheeses and meats as well as hot take-away food.
After the prosecco introduction, Domenico explained always go for DOC “designation of controlled origin” when drinking prosecco. We then grazed on local pastries for a popular bakery with queues out the door, then San Daniele ham and pecorino sheep cheese and red wine from Salumeria Volpetti a 40-year old popular deli which has expanded to having small and popular restaurant next door.
Testaccio was one of the Roman Empire’s major trade hubs and the discarded clay amphorae are now a hill with caves once dug into the mound for storage now host bars and discos and restaurants – we went to a restaurant for three kinds of pasta and wine on inside the hill of wine jars! And we finished out tour with an ice cream – I had rum and raisin – then we meandered our way back to the hotel along the Tiber. Wow, we’ve had an amazing food tour in Rome!
Food Tours Rule
We might have stumbled onto Testaccio, as it is mentioned in lots of guides to Rome, but with only a day we would not have found the best places to eat and drink straight away. It just confirmed to me food tours are so the best way to go, when visiting a city – not only to sample great food, but also to get an insight to the history and a feeling for the city, beyond statues and amphitheatres.
See Rome In A Day On A Vespa
Though we did get a good overview – in the afternoon we jumped on Angelo Artino’s vespa tours of Rome in the afternoon – we were passengers – definitely after several glasses of wine and beer and helped steady the nerves as we flew past The Colloseum.
There are food walking tours in most cities – I’ve eaten street food in Myanmar and gorged myself on pastel del nata in Lisbon. I try and look for the small independent companies like myself when googling food tours. A good idea is to go at the beginning of your trip, so you have an idea of an area and restaurants you might like to revisit.
How To See And Eat Rome In A Day
I went on Eating Europe Food Tours https://www.eatingeurope.com/rome/
Our Vespa ride was with https://www.airbnb.co.uk/experiences/1083869 booked through Airbnb
Check out flights to Rome – I got a evening flight with Ryanair https://www.ryanair.com/gb/en to Rome from Edinburgh on Wednesday and returned on Friday morning – giving us a whole day in Rome for about £50 return