Meet Signor Roberto. His day usually starts at 5:30am when he arrives at his delicatessen to receive his first shipment of cheese deliveries for the day. His shop closes at 8:00pm and he’s usually spotted by locals walking home around 10:00pm. He follows this routine 6 days a week. When asked how he does it, his response is simply:
When you do something you love, you only work 50% of the time.
Roberto is just one of the many enchanting people I met in Trastevere; a neighbourhood in Rome that I fell in love with and dream of living in for the rest of my life. You see, I didn’t really fall in love with Rome until I experienced this part of it, and if it wasn’t for the tour company Eating Italy, I probably would have never met people like Roberto.
Before I left Rome, I wanted to make sure I really got a true taste of what it was all about, so I opted to do a Rome food tour with Eating Italy called the Twilight Trastevere food tour. This was hands down THEE best food tour I’ve ever had in my entire life (and trust me, I’ve done a lot of tours).
My evening began in Trastevere which is a neighbourhood in Rome like no other. It reminded me of a village in a big city and you get to cross the oldest bridge in Rome to get to it on Tiba island. It all began at sunset where we met our guide Kate who warmly welcomed us and attempted to prepare us for what we were about to experience (heaven).
On this 4 hour walking tour, we explored this quaint little neighbourhood indulging in over 10 food and wine tastings along the way at 7 of some of Rome’s most historic and locally loved places by Romans.
My favourite part though was getting a chance to meet the families that have been serving up the foodie treasures for generations. It was evident that the Eating Italy team carefully selected each location based not only on the quality of the food, but also the story of the place, the passion of the people, and its significance in the neighbourhood. There are few activities in Rome filled with as many enchanting moments like I had that night which honestly made for an unforgettable evening.
Below are some of my highlights from the tour and the stories behind them that may just make you fall in love too:
Spirito di vino
Italy is the largest wine producer in the world, so I was pleased to learn that the second stop on our tour would allow us to sample some. Known as the oldest standing synagogue (160 years older than the Colusseum), we made our way down to the cellar which had over 800 bottles of wine lining the untouched walls. We sampled a bottle from the Multepulciano grape and nibbled on a sheeps milk cheese called Catcio Fiore (which can only be bought in two places in Rome and will cost you about 40 Euros a kilo!).
After feeling a nice buzz and standing in awe at the walls around me, I had one of those ‘oh my god, I love my life’ moments.
Getting Behind the Scenes at a Pizzeria
Pizza is a fairly new dish in Rome (it didn’t come to Rome until 1940) and you can expect to pay for your pizza by weight when you order it. Good pizzerias are only open in the evenings as they usually only like to light their wood burning ovens once a day. We had an exclusive behind the scenes access into the kitchen of a local pizzeria and I felt like a VIP being back there.
Aside from the delicious pizza, the highlight was the oven itself which was dates back to 1860 (making it older than Italy!) and it doesn’t use wood or coal, but rather hazlenut shells! As a result it adds a nice aroma to the bread and was no doubt the best pizza I’ve ever had (like EVER).
A Biscottificio Built on Love
Biscottificio Innocenti has been in operation since 1923 and has had four generations of family operating it. My heart was so warm with love when I left ,and it really gave me an appreciation for the time and love they’ve put into their business. I was also incredibly impressed that they still use the same machine they used back in the 1950′s to bake their delicious goods.
Here you will find an assortment of bakes goods available year-round, including jam tarts and cookies made with ground almonds or accented with dabs of jam. It was really hard for me to leave this place (and no it wasn’t just the smell of baking). I was captivated by this family, and still follow their adventures on Facebook to this day.
Discovering the Wonderful World of Gelato
It’s no secret that Gelato is EVERYWHERE in Italy, but the important thing is to understand the difference between the real deal and the fake stuff. We learned how colour, shape and flavour can help determine the difference (and of course we sampled a few in the process). Hot Tip: Look for the pistachio flavour when you walk into a gelato shop; it should be an earthy green colour (not fluorescent green).
If you’re planning a trip to Italy, I highly recommend checking out the various food tours in Rome with Eating Italy. Their mission is to give people a true Taste of Rome by exposing them to real food, people and neighbourhoods. In doing so, they support the families and businesses and in a tiny way help to preserve the traditions they still follow.
*tour provided by Eating Italy. All thoughts, opinions, and love stories are my own.