Italy’s capital is, historically and architecturally, one of the most impressive places I’ve visited. Walking in and around the Colosseum and the forum was a major highlight and the rest of the must see sights are easy to explore by foot. The web of lanes and roads is like working your way through a maze except instead of trying to get yourself to one spot in the middle, every turn surprises you with jaw dropping piazzas, enormous statues, and stunning views of the iconic Roman skyline set against colorful skies.
All that sightseeing is bound to work up an appetite. Luckily, another main reason tourists flock to Rome is for the food!
EATING IN ROME
Simply being in Rome doesn’t guarantee fine dining. You really need to know the best places to eat in Rome to make this part of your trip worthwhile. Not every restaurant is going to be high quality and fast food is fast food no matter where you go. Not only did I want to get the best food in Rome but I also wanted to know what I was eating, where it came from, and find out how Romans stay so thin! In order to get a more in depth and appreciative experience on food in Rome I went on The Roman Food Tour and, oh my gnocchi, I got more than ever expected.
My guide on the tour was Jesse. Jesse is a true gem and everyone visiting Rome should have the experience of eating and talking with her. She’s such a knowledgeable and passionate guide who enhances the tour experience with her enthusiasm for food and love for the city.
From what I learned on my tour, I put together a meal plan for a day in Rome that will leave you feeling a little more Italian.
Italy is a child’s breakfast dream. Also mine. You guys. They eat dessert for breakfast and I am yes please all over that.
We went to La Pasticceria Siciliana for fresh cannoli and since then, any time my boyfriend or I mention cannoli, the other stares vaguely into the distance and with a sigh says, “those were the days.” Choose your own toppings, get a coffee, and enjoy the friendly “Ciao bella!” from passersby. It’s so easy to be a morning person in Rome.
When you order your cannolo, ask for them to fill it for you right then. If you order one of the pre filled ones, the shell may have gotten a little soggy.
You’ve probably heard that there are rules to drinking coffee in Italy. It’s true. If you order a cappuccino past a certain time, you might get some funny looks. It’s not a etiquette thing or a “we wear pink on Wednesdays” trend. It’s because they assume you’ve recently had a meal and can’t understand why you would upset your digestion with all that milk. Italians are all about proper digestion.
I’ll cut right to the chase here. Get pizza by the slice and be on your way.
There are enough pizza places around that you don’t necessarily have to research where to go but if you want the best, go to Pizzarium for a selection of more than 80 daily toppings and the best pizza in the city. Gabriele Bonci is the famous baker and is known as the ‘Michelangelo of pizza’.
Try a pizza with a potato topping.
Pizza by the slice is sold by weight. Choose a pizza and guide them to the size you want.
What else do you need to eat other than pizza? Pasta of course! Jesse took us to dinner at Al Giardino del Gatto e la Volpe, a family run restaurant. We ate ravioli filled with spinach and ricotta cheese and, my favorite, four cheese gnocchi.
Italians dine around 7. Go earlier to beat the crowds or go at 7 with a reservation to surround yourself with the pure joy that is Italians and their food.
Touching your cheek with your pointer finger and rotating as if trying to create your own dimple acts as a thank you to the chef and tells him/her that you’re enjoying your meal.
SNACKS AND SWEETS
My favorite stop on the tour was the Trionfale market where I walked around vegetable stalls, watched fresh pasta being made, filled a liter bottle with delicious wine for about 2 euros, and fell in love with buffalo mozzarella. You can even get a haircut in the market which is wonderfully odd.
Buffalo mozzarella is a must try and the Trionfale market is the best place to try it. Jesse told us exactly how the mozzarella should be. Milk should leak out of the middle when it’s cut. It should be spongy, not stringy. Wet, not dry. I took in everything she told us and the next day, when my boyfriend and I went out to dinner, we were actually offended by the buffalo mozzarella that was set in front of us. There was no milk! It was stringy!
That’s right, I’m a buffalo mozzarella snob now and there’s no going back.
Our last stop on the tour was at Fatamorgana where I took way too much time contemplating flavors and bargaining with my boyfriend to share his with me.
If the gelato is piled up in big mounds and has enticing bright colors… it’s not real gelato.
The water buffalo that produce the mozzarella used to be used a working animals. Now, they produce such a desired product that, in order to ensure top quality, they are spoiled silly. They even have stand up massage machines that they can walk up to at any time and treat themselves to a rub down. I want one.
Heading to Rome?
Eat dessert for breakfast, try all your favorite pizza toppings, get up close and personal with cheese, and become a wine connoisseur. Don’t worry about the calories… you’re in Rome! Trust me, it will be easy to walk it off while enjoying all the sights in the eternal city.