My Rome food walking tour: how to experience Roman food like a local

Amazing off the beaten path Rome food walking tour in Testaccio, one of Rome most food rich neighborhoods, with Savor Italy Tours. How it went and why I strongly suggest it.

As an Italy travel blogger, I recently got in touch with the owner of Savor Italy tours.  She invited me to join their Rome food walking tour so that I could write about it.

Savor Italy tour have been providing food tours, wine tours, pizza tours and cooking classes for the last years in Rome and in Venice. They are a very well reputed Rome food tour operator, with a top ranking on Tripadvisor, so I happily accepted.

I took their Rome food walking tour last week: this post is about how it went. As a disclaimer, I was invited (so I didn’t pay for the tour). That said, the opinions in this post are 100% mine and haven’t been influenced by anybody.

I must admit that I was a little bit biased when I accepted. After 45 years in Italy, I wondered what else I could learn about Italian food. I also thought that I would taste some pretty common street food, a little bit of “pizza al taglio”, some supplì or arancini, and that would be it.

Well, I was absolutely wrong, and the tour turned out to be really instructive.

I discovered a local neighborhood I didn’t know before, tasted some amazing local delicacies I couldn’t have found on my own, spent a really nice time with my guide… and probably added 1 kg or so to my waistline!

Stay with me to know how it went…

I met my guide, Giampiero, in Testaccio, at 11.15 AM.

Testaccio is an off the beaten path Roman neighborhood. To give you an idea, it’s were the Caio Cestio pyramid is located, in the Southern part of Rome. It’s an area very well know by Romans for its good and lively bars and traditional restaurant.

Giampiero, our guide, is graduating in foreign languages, studying to become  a sommelier and has an overwhelming passion for food.

His passion showed, and he turned out to be an inexhaustible source of knowledge and anecdotes about Rome, its food and wine, and where to find the best.

Rome food walking tour - Giampiero, our food guide

I couldn’t ask for more!

From the initial tour brief, I learned that the tour would last more than three hours and that we would have 5 stops.

Rome food walking tour – 1st stop: breakfast

Rome food walking tour - Cappuccino, Croissant and Tiramisu

We started the tour with a quick breakfast in a café – pastry shop (having the two combined in a single shop is fairly common in Italy).

I had a cappuccino, a good butter croissant with jam and a revised Tiramisu: just the Tiramisu cream in a dark chocolate cup. Simply delicious.

Frankly speaking, I would have stopped my tour on the spot to dedicate my stomach to the unbelievable range of pastry exposed at the counter. Have a look at the picture and tell me if I had been wrong to do so!

Walking Rome Food Tour - Italian "pasticcini"

Interestingly, I have been passing for years in from of that bar, and never stopped. What a mistake!

Rome food walking tour – 2nd stop: neighborhood food market

We then walked to a neighborhood food market, recently renovated. You can find many of them in Italy, they cal them “mercati rionali”. In general, they just sell food, while in this case, a number of tables and benches give the possibility to have  a quick lunch or just a sneak.

We spent here most of the tour with 3 different food tasting plus the wine tasting.

First tasting: Stracciatella with Pizza Bianca

Rome food walking tour - the Pizza bianca and stracciatella stall

Stracciatella is a kind of Mozzarella with the addition of cream, similar to Puglia Burrata, but more tasty. Instead of giving it the typical round shape, stracciatella is stretched into tears (“stracciare” in Italian means “to tear”).

The pizza bianca is the typical salty Roman flat bread. Actually there’s a great Pizza Bianca baker you should taste in Campo dei Fiori, just follow the queue…

I never tasted pizza bianca with stracciatella before: the combination is just perfect, that was a nice discovery.

Then we moved to a bakery, Giampiero explained it belongs to a very famous Roman chef. We tasted a slice of pizza with mozzarella, fiori di zucca (zucchini flowers) and anchovies.

Not only it was delicious, but also conceptually very interesting. It applied to pizza one of the most typical roman dishes: the fried “fiori di zucca”.

It’s middle pizza in the picture.

Rome food walking tour - Gourmet Pizza

The third stop was an absolute surprise.  We moved to a kiosk making special sandwiches: forget ham and cheese, what we had was a completely different stuff, and the owner of this shop won many prices with his inventions.

What we had was a bollito and cicoria sandwich, and is very related to the local food traditions. Cicoria is a kind of herb taht you boil and then fry with garlic and olive oil. It’s a very common side dish in Roman restaurants. Bollito is boiled meat, cooked for up to 5 hours to make it as soft as possible.

The combination of the two is… well, you must taste it, just unbelievably good!

Rome food walking tour - fabulous sandwich

We then moved to a wine shop.

The tour included 2 glasses of wine, but the shop owner let us try 4 different kinds of wine, so that we could choose the ones we liked the most.

I eventually had a Chardonnay from South Tyrol and a Grillo from Sicily.

Rome food walking tour - wine tasting

Included were small appetizers, the ones you can see in the picture.

By the moment we finished sipping our wines it was 1:00 PM. I felt quite full and happy, and I asked Giampiero if we were done and could go home (thanks to the wine, I had completely forgot his initial brief).

He stared at me and said “of course not, now we go to the restaurant!”

Rome food walking tour – 3rd stop: local restaurant

Well, I should had known that an Italian food tour could not be completed without a taste of Pasta!

So we walked to a nice “osteria”, actually build partially inside Monte Testaccio, the hill that gave its name to the neighborhood. Monte Testaccio is not a natural hill: it has been created over the century by the accumulation of the broken amphorae coming from the old Roman port on the Tiber river. You can still see that in the restaurants walls.

We were served two iconic Roman pasta dishes: spaghetti Cacio e Pepe (cheese and pepper spaghetti) and rigatoni all’Amatriciana, plus a bottle of local wine.

Both were good and tasty, especially the Cacio e Pepe, one of my favorite dishes.

Rome food walking tour - spaghetti cacio e pepe e rigatoni all'Amatriciana

Needless to say, I wasn’t able to eat them all!

Rome food walking tour – 4th stop: reputed delicacies shop

The next stop was in a renowned delicacy shop, were many of the most and upper scale Roman restaurants place their orders.

There we tasted 2 different king of hams (Parma and Tuscany), a boar salami, a 24 months seasoned Parmigiano and a truffle cheese.

Rome food walking tour - upscale delicacies shop

Rome food walking tour – 5th stop: gelato!

Giampiero walked us to a nice gelato workshop were I asked for the smaller size they had. This is what i got!

Rome food walking tour - Gelato!

Luckily that was the last stop, I wasn’t able to eat anything more!

Overall, that was a very rewarding experience, even for an Italian resident like me, so I would definitely recommend it to any traveler interested in food and local culture.

Giampiero was a great guide and I found brilliant the approach of selecting an off the beaten path district for the tour. it makes it a really “eat like a local” experience.

In case you are interested to know more, here is the link to the Tour I participated to.

So happy Rome walking food tour and Buon appetito!

Rome food walking tour - cheers

Coming to Rome? Have a look at my post “Rome in five days” to discover the unmissable things to do and see in the capital of Italy

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