Hello & Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a wonderful time celebrating with their family and friends. I’m sorry for my absence over the past few weeks, my aim to blog whilst away was short lived due to poor WiFi, days filled with sight seeing and eating and time spent with my beautiful family in Greece for Christmas and New Year. I can happily say that I’m now back in Sydney and looking forward to whats left of the summer. I absolutely love to travel, but there are four things that I’m always happy to come home too; my bed, my wardrobe, my piccolo latte and of course, a home cooked meal.
Since the jet lag has kicked in, and I’ve been wide awake since 6am I thought it would be a good idea to start sharing some more photos from my time in beautiful Rome. You can check out my first two posts here and here.
Prior to leaving for our trip, I had organised for my brother, sister and myself to do the Eating Italy Food Tour through Testaccio. After researching all of the food tours offered and reading reviews, I came to the conclusion that this was the best option for authentic, local Italian food in a neighbourhood where true Romans lived. The tour took us to seven different food establishments in the area, and we savoured twelve food tastings which I share with you below. Over the four hours we not only ate a considerable amount, but our guide filled us in on the history of the area and showed us some offbeat landmarks away from the usual tourist trail of Rome. We discovered an area which I most likely would never have visited on my own. It was one of those unforgettable travel experiences, which leaves you feeling content and lucky to be able to experience another culture through its food and hospitality.
The morning starts off at Pasticceria Barberini, known as the best local place in Testaccio for sweet treats and bakery goods. The cafe was opened in 1934 by the Barberini family and once inside you feel right at home as you stare at the welcoming display of cakes and watch the barista make coffees for the locals who are greeted by their first name and stand at the bar with their espresso.
We begin with the ‘too cute I don’t want to ruin and eat you’ Tiramisu in Chocolate Cups. None of us refuse to starting off our morning with something so decadently sweet.
We are then handed a slice of the Barberini Panettone, which is a traditional sweet bread loaf originally from Milan and eaten throughout Italy over Christmas and New Year. We learn that the cake is generally eaten as a dessert or snack as it is not overly sweet. It reminds me of the Greek bread Tsoureki which we eat at Easter time but with the addition of raisins and lemon zest.
Via Marmorata 41, Testaccio, Roma.
My excitement grows when we head around the corner and visit Volpetti Piu for pizza. Those of you that know me well will be able to vouch that I am a lover of all things pizza. Why else would I have made sure that Italy was included in my trip for the third time in the past four years.
We take a seat inside the casual dining room and learn about Pizza Al Taglio, the Italian name for pizza by the slice that is baked in large rectangular trays and generally sold in slices or by weight with prices marked per kilo or per 100 grams. This type of pizza was invented in Rome but is quite common throughout all of Italy. It has even made its way to Australia with places like Cipro Pizza al Taglio in Alexandria opening up and blessing the Sydney community with this Roman fare.
We each trial the slice of Margherita and I am blown away by the pizza base which is similar to a toasted focaccia bread and full of flavour from the quality ingredients used and crispy light texture.
We have a walk around the shop and salivate at the other slices on offer. Tempted to start buying more to taste, we are kindly reminded by the guide that this is only stop two and there is a lot more food eating to be done.
Sneaky photo of the siblings.
Via Alessandro Volta 8, Testaccio, Roma.
Ph: +39 06 5742352
Stop number three and we literally walk next door to Volpetti, a gourmet food store (known as the best deli in Rome) stocked full with 150 different types of cheese, 60 varieties of salami and ageing balsamic with some bottles as old as 100 years. I have honestly walked into food heaven.
We get to taste an assortment of Cured Meats, Cheese with Truffle and Nougat and then make our way into the small store to explore the other culinary goods on offer.
We walk outside and I make a clear decision that if I ever move to Rome, Testaccio is where I will live.
Via Marmorata 47, Testaccio, Roma.
Ph: +39 06 5742352
To help digest we wander around the streets of Testaccio and into the beautiful and peaceful Non-Catholic Cemetery.
….and then towards the Pyramid of Cestius which is currently being restored to its former glory. Compare the colour of the tip of the pyramid that has been cleaned to the bottom half.
Our walk then leads us to the Testaccio Marketplace, a common meeting point for people in the area who come and purchase their weekly fruit, vegetables, meat, bread and everything else in between. Not all of the 103 stores just sell produce, you can also find Italian delicacies such as tripe and bollito (boiled beef) sandwiches to purchase and fresh cannoli which you can see below.
As we walk around the stores, our guide picks up ingredients from various places and soon enough we are being served Bruschetta on crispy Italian pane (bread). I believe I mentioned this in some of my posts from Italy in 2012 (which you can discover here for Rome, Naples, Ischia and Positano) but Italians, hands down grow the most fantastic tasting tomatoes. They make this simple dish of tomatoes on bread into something I would be content to eat for the rest of my life.
With the remaining tomato mixture we are served a simple yet full-flavoured Caprese Salad. The mozzarella you see above had been flown up to Rome earlier that morning from Naples.
We finish off with another sweet treat, this time a freshly filled Ricotta Cannoli at Dess’Art from the famous Sicilian pastry chef, Constanza Fortuna. The trick to a wonderful tasting Cannoli is to only place the filling in once you have ordered, otherwise the crispy shell starts to soften.
Via B.Franklin, Testaccio, Roma.
Flavio al Velavevodetto
On our feet again, we make our way to Flavio al Velavevodetto to savour some pasta and wine. The osteria is it’s own historical sights as it’s built into Monte Testaccio, a mountain like hill of discarded clay pots dating back to at least 200 AD. The benefit of the mountain location, is that the restaurant is kept cool throughout the whole year, a perfect retreat from the hot summer days.
We are served three pastas but unfortunately I could only grab a photo of the Amatriciana (cured pork cheek, pecorino cheese and tomato) as the other two (Carbonara and Cacio e Pepe) are placed down the other end of the table. All three are cooked al dente, with sauces that are traditionally Roman. If I wasn’t so full, I would have happily spent the rest of the afternoon gorging on pasta and drinking white wine.
Flavio al Velavevodetto
Via Del Monte 97, Testaccio, Roma.
Ph: +39 06 574 4194
Our second last stop for the afternoon brings us to 00100 Pizza to try Suppli, an Italian snack food. These small balls of rice are made with different fillings and dunked into egg yolk and bread crumbs and then fried. Being very similar to Arancini I question the difference and find out that Suppli originated in Rome and are smaller in comparison to Arancini which are from Sicily and generally the size of an orange. These gluttonous balls of rice are absolutely moorish, and the type of hearty food you want to snack on during a cold winters day.
Via Giovanni Branca, Testaccio, Roma.
Ph: +39 06 4341 9624
We all waddle over to our last stop of perfect gelato at Giolitti. I get side tracked with choosing my flavour and eating the creamy, frozen delight that I forget to take a photo. I do learn some first rate facts on how to tell the difference between real and fake gelato and vouch that the remaining time in Rome is only spent eating the best of the best, none of the fake stuff.
1. Gelato should never be piled high, if it is then it has been whipped with an artificial thickener..stay away!
2. Look at the colours, gelato should never look too bright or fluorescent. An easy way to spot artificial flavouring is by looking at the pistachio or banana. Pistachio should always be a pale green/brown colour, not bright green and banana a pale brown colour, not bright yellow.
The tour comes to end and we each leave with full bellies and a wealth of knowledge. Looking back, I am so happy that we took part in the tour and it was hands down one of the best experiences I have ever had in Europe. Not only did we eat fantastic food, but the learnings ensured that we ate well for our remaining time in the wonderful city. If you want to learn more about the Eating Italy Food Tours, check out their website here. You can book in online and they not only offer tours in Testaccio, but Trastevere as well.
I have plenty more food and travel photos to share with you from beautiful Roma so stay tuned :) xxx