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

Walking Rome Food Tour - Italina "pasticcini"

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…

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The ultimate guide to Italian Pasta dishes: know what to order by region

Top 25  delicious Italian pasta dishes you should taste, beyond Spaghetti Bolognese,  described by by region with pictures and map

What is the most popular and famous Italian pasta dish? What are the traditional Italian pasta dishes one must absolutely try? What is the name of the traditional pasta dish I want to order?

These are very common questions, and this post is aimed at giving an answer to them, in an easy and funny way.

Buon appetito!

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How Italians drink coffee: the ultimate guide

Italian coffee

The ultimate infographic guide about how to order and to drink coffee the way Italians do! Have your coffee like a local…

Coffee is Italian the national drink, and an unmissable daily ritual. Wherever you go in Italy, you can be 100% sure to find a church… and a bar serving coffee!

On average, Italians drink about four coffees a day, usually two at home, one at the bar and one at the office, mainly at three times of the day: breakfast, mid-morning and end of meal / dinner.

Italians are creative people. While Espresso is the main way Italians drink coffee, there are actually many different options to order a coffee in Italy. And, guess what? They are not the ones you will find at Starbucks!

This Infographic will help you choose among the different options. That will be your first step to drink coffee “like a local”.

Italian coffee

But what are the main factors that distinguish an Italian at the bar?

There are five golden rules to follow if you want to drink coffee like a local:

  1. Coffee in Italy has no timetables. It can be ordered at any time (day or night). Inviting someone to drink a coffee is the trigger to most social and networking activities in Italy.
  2. To invite someone to drink a coffee, just say “caffè?”, they will understand, no need to say more
  3. Stand at the counter. An espresso must be express! Because it is prepared quickly and just as quickly should be drunk: standing, at the counter!
  4. In Italy if you say “coffee”, you mean “espresso”! So you would never order “an espresso” but simply “a coffee”. If you want a variant, then you’ll need to specify
  5. You are “allowed” to some variants to your espresso: Long or narrow, spotted hot or cold stained, corrected, Moroccan (look at the infographic for more details).
  6. Cappuccino? Never, never, never after 10 am!!! Cappuccino is only for breakfast, to be eaten with a “cornetto” (in the South) or a “brioche” (in the North)… rigorously standing at the counter!
  7. Be loud! In the rush morning hour, the “barista” will handle an amazing amount of orders at the same time. Don’t expect much care, unless you shout your order with a loud tone and a male expression (if you are a male, of course..)
  8. Get the ticket at the cashier before you order, the barista will ask for it before serving you
  9. Fight to pay for your mate’s coffees. Italian do insist to offer the coffee, so do the same! Just say “faccio io” (I’ll do it) and rush to the cahier before anyone else can do it!

Enjoy your Italian coffee!

Credits to https://nationalpositions.com/ and to https://specialcoffee.it

 

Weird Italian food you’re going to love

Chianti-osteria Nerbone 2

Nowhere else in Europe you will find the same variety  of regional recipes you can find in Italy. With a bit of curiosity and, sometimes, courage, you’ll discover much more than just pasta!

Italian incredibly high number of recipes derives from its being separated for centuries into many independent “states”, each one with its peculiar traditions, and from the variety of its territory (and what it could offer to be cooked). There’s also another aspect to consider: Italy was a rather poor country. The need to feed an increasing population with the available resources, united to the unbeatable Italian creativity, has given birth to some real weird, hence delicious, dishes.

In this post I’m presenting a selection of my favorite “weird Italian dishes you are going to love”. Buon appetito!

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What to eat in Bologna: a Bologna food guide to discover local specialties

A complete Bologna food guide to decipher a Bologna restaurant menu and to discover what to eat in Bologna such as tortellini, lasagne and tagliatelle

Bologna amazing food is worldwide known, just think of Lasagne, Tortellini and Tagliatelle alla Bolognese. “Spaghetti alla Bolognese” are, just like “Pizza”, the most famous Italian dish in the world. Actually, you will never find “spaghetti alla Bolognese” in Bologna, but this is a different story…

Like in many other Italian regions, the traditional cooking can vary a lot among the different towns of Emilia Romagna. You are likely to find rather different menus in Modena, Ferrara or Bologna.

In this post I will talk mostly of Bologna food, leaving you the pleasure to discover the food peculiarities of the other Emilia Romagna cities.

Tortellini, Tagliatelle, Lasagne: undoubtedly the core of traditional Bologna food is “Fresh Pasta” (made with eggs and flour and not dried like spaghetti, hence “fresh”). Fresh pasta can be either plain, like Tagliatelle, or stuffed, like Tortellini.

Also famous specialties are cured meat pork and the Cotoletta alla Bolognese, the local answer to the more famous “cotoletta alla Milanese”.

So here is what you could expect to find in a typical Bologna menu.

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What to eat in Venice

Fritto misto con Polenta

A short food guide to decipher a Venetian menu and to discover what to eat in Venice, beyond Pizza and lasagne

Venice cuisine is among the most fascinating you could taste in Italy, and not only for its delicious taste.

Over centuries, Venice has built contacts both with the inland and with diverse and faraway countries: therefore, its culinary tradition presents a variety of dishes linked to the different origins of ingredients. This is why you can see in Venice dishes baccalà (dried salted cod) from the Baltic routs, precious spices from the caravans of Asia but also fresh vegetables from islands of the estuary and fish from the lagoon and the Adriatic sea.

Antipasti (starters):

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What to eat in Tuscany: best typical Florence food you must try

A complete food guide to the best Florence typical food you have to try when in Florence. Eat like a local and enjoy these great typical Tuscan dishes.

What should you eat when in Florence and in Tuscany? No, Pasta and Spaghetti is not the right answer! Of course you can find them in most touristic restaurant, nothing to worry about. However, Florence typical food is peculiar and so delicious that you absolutely need to try it.

Florence typical food: Menu

Actually, the best way to discover and taste local Florence food is to spend some time in the amazing food hall at Mercato Centrale, close to San Lorenzo. There you will find a huge amount of stalls displaying all the Tuscany local food you may dream of. Just choose what you want, point your finger, get your tray and enjoy! (read my post: Florence in a day for more directions) .

Florence typical food: mercato centrale food hall

Ready to start? So here is my Florence typical food guide!

Antipasti (starters):

Crostini con fegatini

Florence typical food: crostini con fegatini

You will hardly find a Tuscan menu that doesn’t offer Crostinis with salumi and a flask of red wine! The word crostini literally refers to the bread, similar to a baguette where the patè is spread. You will be offered many different type of crostini in Tuscany’s restaurants, but the real stuff is made of chicken livers. Other popular options are Bruschetta, crostini with minced tomatoes and olive oil and crostini with truffle oil.

Finocchiona

Florence typical food: Tuscany cured meat

The “typical” antipasto generally includes all sorts of salami, ham and cheese. While this may not differ that much from the salami you normally find in other Tuscany areas, there’s one which is typicall of Tuscany and that you shouldn’t miss: the Finocchiona.

Finocchiona is a variation on salami made of finely ground pork and fat, laced with fennel, and aged for a while. The unusual ingredient in finocchiona is fennel seeds, which give the salami an intriguing sweet, anise-like flavor. They are also behind the name, as finocchio means “fennel” in Italian. After the ground pork is stuffed into salami casings, the finocchiona is cured so that it becomes firm and dry.

Primi piatti (first courses)

Ribollita

Florence typical food: Ribollita

The Ribollita is the most famous Tuscan soup. It is a typical “poor” dish from the Florence and Arezzo cooking traditions, meant to reuse the left over bread and the most commonly available vegetables. The name, which means “reboiled”, derives from the former habit of preparing  the soup in large quantities, usually on Friday. The soup was cooked a second time (and therefore “reboiled”) in the following days, before being served. Actually, the ribollita gets tastier each time it is reboiled.

While many different vegetable can be used, a true ribollita always includes black cabbage (“cavolo nero”), Borlotti beans and dry bread. Once it is served, you should add one or two spoons of “exravergine” olive oil and freshly ground pepper.

Pappa al pomodoro

Florence typical food: Pappa al pomodoro

Half-soup and half-sauce, pappa al pomodoro is little more than ripe tomatoes, olive oil, and day-old bread. It’s a delicious summer dish, served in the majority of Tuscany restaurants.

Pici

Florence typical food: Pici

Pici is are thick, hand-rolled kind of pasta, like a fat spaghetti. The dough is typically made from flour and water only. It originates in the province of Siena in Tuscany; in the Montalcino area it is also referred to as pinci.

Pici are served with a variety of toppings, such as ragù (often from game, such as duck, hare or wild boar – “pici al ragù di anatra-lepre-cinghiale”), spicy garlic tomato sauce (“Pici all’aglione”) or porcini mushrooms (“Pici alla boscaiola”).

Pappardelle ala lepre

Florence typical food: Pappardelle alla lepre

Pappardelle are large, very broad flat pasta, similar to wide fettuccine. The name derives from the verb “pappare”, to gobble up. The fresh types are two to three centimetres (1 inch) wide. Like Pici they can be served with a variety of toppings, even though most popular Pappardelle dishes are “Pappardelle alla lepre” (hare minced meat sauce) or “Pappardelle al cinghiale” (Pappardelle with wild boar topping).

Secondi piatti (second courses: fish / meat dishes)

Bistecca alla Fiorentina

Florence typical food: Bistecca alla fiorentina

The most famous tuscan meat dish is actually… a T-Bone steak!

The true bistecca alla fiorentina (“Florentine-Style Steak”, normally called just “Fiorentina”, is huge (hardly less than one Kg, cooked on charcoal fire and traditionally served on a wooden cutting board. Though Fiorentina, is featured on the menus of almost all the restaurants in Florence, finding a good one isn’t at all easy. But when you do it’s heaven on earth, delightfully rich, flavorful rare meat so tender it can be cut with a spoon. Much of the secret is the breed of cattle, Chianina beef…

Cinghiale in umido

Florence typical food: Cinghiale in umido

This winter dish requires marinating the wild boar meat in red wine, vinegar, chopped vegetables, garlic, bay leaves, juniper berries and chili flakes for at least one night, and then cook it in a clay pot for at leat 2-3 hours. The result is a melt-in-your-mouth tender, deliciously tasty meat dish, often served with Polenta (cornmeal boiled into a porridge and eaten directly or baked, fried or grilled)

Lampredotto

Florence typical food: Lampredotto (Greve in Chianti - osteria Nerbone)

Lampredotto is a very famous dish from Florence, that you may find in restaurants or as street food (“panino col lampredotto”). Lampredotto is the fourth stomach of a cow, boiled in water with tomatoes, onion, celery and parsley. A typical Florentine peasant dish, the most popular way to serve it is in a bread roll, with parsley sauce and optional chili oil. ‘Snap up’ a hot cow stomach sandwich at one of the many street and market stalls in Florence that serve it. The most famous one is just in front of the famous “porcellino” statue.

Caciucco alla livornese

Florence typical food: Caciucco alla livornese

This is not a typical Florence food, but it’s worth mentioning because you may find it in your menu, and it’s delicious! Cacciucco (also called Caciucco alla Livornese – Livorno-style cacciuco) is a popular traditional Livorno seafood dish, fairly common also in Pisa, Lucca and in all the Tuscan coast.

It’s a delicious soup of assorted sea fish, shellfish and molluscs, poured over the toasted bread, which history stretches back at least five hundred years. The origin of dish name also proclaims the fact that cacciucco is rooted in a mixture of culinary cultures of many nations. It bears resemblance to the Turkish word ‘küçük’, which means ‘tiny pieces’ – small fish and molluscs were used to prepare the dish.

Dolci (Desserts)

Cantucci col vin santo

Florence typical food: Cantucci col vin santo

Originating in the city of Prato (close to Florence), Cantucci are presently the most famous cookies in Tuscany. You will probably be offered Cantucci col vin santo after all your meals!

Cantucci are oblong-shaped almond biscuits, made dry and crunchy through cutting the loaf of dough while still hot and fresh from baking in the oven. Traditionally, you are supposed to dip them into a glass of vin santo (Tuscany sweet dessert wine) before savor them.

Panforte

Florence typical food: Panforte

Panforte means “strong bread” which refers to the spicy flavor. It’s the traditional Siena cakes, and its origins may date back to 13th century.

The process of making panforte is fairly simple. Sugar is dissolved in honey and various nuts, fruits and spices are mixed together with flour. The entire mixture is baked in a shallow pan. The finished cake is dusted with icing sugar. The result is heavenly delicious! You may taste Panforte as a dessert in restaurants or purchase a slice in a “pasticcieria”. A tasty and spicy variety of Panforte is “Panpepato”.

Buon appetito!

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