Why do we travel? Landmarks, palaces, artwork, all great reasons, but when we want to experience authenticity, what do we think of? Food, of course.
Now, I’m not saying this because I’m Italian, but let’s face it, Italy’s culinary tradition isn’t famous worldwide for nothing. A while ago I joined a tour organized by Eating Italy Food Tours in Testaccio neighborhood and discovered new places for breakfast, brunch, and lunch.
The walk, led by Luna, started at Barberini (41, Via Marmorata) for a proper Roman breakfast with a taste of delicious cornetti (croissants) and heavenly tiramisu. This, tiramisu, is not exactly breakfast but rather a dessert, but since we were there, we couldn’t really miss the occasion for such a sweet treat, could we? We carried on tucking into all kinds of Italy’s most famous delicacies, from pizza al taglio (pizza by the slice) at eatery Volpetti Più (8, Via Alessandro Volta) to supplì, fried stuffed rice ball, at street food eatery 00100 Pizza (88, Via Giovanni Branca), to a sample of San Daniele famous prosciutto, truffle pecorino cheese and Reggiano parmesan at heavenly gourmet food store E. Volpetti (47, Via Marmorata).
We were definitely not done eating, but the tour wisely included a stop at the old slaughterhouse (as creepy as it might be, it did play an important role in local modern history) and at the non-Catholic cemetery where, in addition to Protestants, also foreigners, poets and one of my favorite Italian philosophers and politicians, Antonio Gramsci, are buried.
After passing by former Rome soccer team field, we were off eating again. This time, after digesting our previous snacks with the brief history break, we stopped by Mercato Testaccio, a colorful market selling all types of season produce and gourmet food. Here, after digging into Rome’s fruits and veggies, we had a sample of Caprese salad, made of mozzarella, tomato and fresh basil, bruschetta al pomodoro, toasted bread with fresh tomato on top, and cannoli, a delicious Sicilian dessert.
The visit at the market came a little as our starter for the proper lunch. Now, I know what you are thinking, after all we ate throughout the morning, did we have the nerve to keep eating? Yes, as a matter of fact, we did. Next stop, traditional Roman restaurant Flavio Al Velavevodetto (“Flavio I Told You So”, sort of. 97, Via del Monte). As a proper local eatery, here we had a mouthwatering sample of pasta cacio e pepe (pasta dressed with pecorino cheese and a good sprinkle of pepper), amatriciana (tomato sauce with guanciale, cured pig cheek), and carbonara (sauce made with crunchy pan-fried pancetta, eggs, pepper and pecorino cheese), three of Rome’s most popular first-course dishes.
What’s a lunch without dessert? After having pasta, we headed to Giolitti (35, Via A. Vespucci), which is not the same Giolitti you will find near the Pantheon. I picked the dark chocolate flavor, as always, and topped it with the exquisite cream this gelateria is famous for.
What to do in Rome apart from enjoying loads of food, with this tour you’ll visit a non-touristy neighborhood, experience daily Roman life and blend with locals all while visiting some of the lesser known attractions that will help you understand the lifestyle of this working-class district. As for me, while I did know all the dishes we had, this morning represented a precious journey into Rome’s recent history, the years, the places and the people that rarely capture tourists’ and guides’ attention.
For more info on all their tours, check out Eating Italy Food Tours website