Clearly, with just a day in Rome, I wasn’t prepared to lose a moment of experiencing the best that the city has to offer, take in as many experiences that will form a string of memories around my heart for years to come.
So this experience is something that is an absolute must if you are a food thrill seeker! After a sublime day exploring the city and a quick freshen up (which means a few more ristrettos and some cold splashes of cooling water to face the searing Italian summer) I prepare myself for a night walking tour with a small group, exploring one of the most cultural, artistic, hip areas of Rome. Not only does it boast some of the most fashionable bars, piazzas and colorful buzzing squares – it secretly hides some of the BEST local, authentic Roman cuisine. Originally it was the poorest areas of Rome, full of foreigners and minorities and traditionally the Etrascan side’ of the river, and only after the destruction of Veio by Rome in 396 BC did it come under Roman rule. Crossing over the stunning arches of the ancient bridge and over a cooling, aqua green Tiber river – we enter Travestere.
This is a short hop tour by foot but essentially a 9 course meal and I can truly say I would of missed all these incredible little hidden taverns that are fully trusted by the locals, just by witnessing the casual conversations between vendor and buyer, the raucous laughter and very exact knowledge of what the customer requires even without them asking. I’m envious of these wonderful personal relationships that rotate entirely around a mutual love of food….
I’m going to share my favourite experiences – and keep posted by the way, because this tour may be available through the Taste Safari site very soon!
The evening starts with the famous Spritz apertivo cocktail – a traditional Aperol, Prosecco and Soda Water. It’s startlingly refreshing and sets the mood for the rest of the night very quickly. I have to say, there is love-hate relationship people have with aperol. I wouldn’t say its one of my favourites – but it does give quite a kick – so to energise your night, this is how the Italians do it. The bartender is nothing less than cool, calm and collected as he pours and stirs with style. I’m already relaxing into the night and can’t wait for the tastings that lie ahead.
I’m with a small group of very very friendly Canadians and Australians… I don’t know if its just Italy, but the atmosphere just simply relaxes everyone and conversation is flowing amongst hoots of laughter …I love it here, every moment of being in this magnificent city.
Our guide – a genuinely friendly fellow is wonderful, entertaining and full of so much local knowledge of the architecture and points out details that, as a visitor, I would of easily missed…things like the various portraits of Virgin Mary on the sides of buildings – over 2500 of them in Rome alone, so discreetly and quaintly placed. I was so amazed by this little bit of information – I had to write a whole other article about it!
Of course you cannot miss the one fantastic staple of Italian cuisine… the most rich, buttery buratta cheese with a few simple slices of sweet date shaped cherry tomatoes, with tiny rivulets of emerald liquid gold – extra virgin olive oil running through the dish.
This was scooped up with wonderfully aromatic ciabatta and washed down with crisp sparkling prosecco….our guide is continuously guiding us through our experience and has a raft of history and food tips that we all delight in hearing.
Skipping through some wonderful wine tasting deep in the musty cellars that are dotted all over Rome , and a quick bite of freshly baked biscotti we arrive at my absolute favourite tasting of the whole night. If you are in Rome – please do me a favour and head straight to Anitca Norcineria, on the Via del Natale Grande 16. This little lively butchers – come craft beer makers make the most heavenly Porchetta I have ever tasted in my life! I love the rowdiness of the tattoo covered butchers, heaving huge rolls out the wood fired oven and slicing impossibly thin slivers served on perfectly baked warm sour dough bread for tastings. I seriously have never tasted anything made with such perfection…
I’m so pleased this is a walking tour as we find a way of digesting our food before the next incredible tasting – it’s all so indulgent and you simply cannot refuse any offering of this sensational tasting menu…
Our next stop is also just as divine as the one before – if you have never tried Suppli, – a rice ball fried to golden perfection with a nugget of molten mozzarella in the middle – insanely delicious. I love this little hole in the wall snack joint that mysteriously doles out piping hot suppli from a hot cavern within…
Of course we must stop to sample some home made pasta at the Enoteca Ferrara, run by two sisters Lina and Maria – a chef and sommelier duo – serve us enormous platter of Pesto con trofie ( loved loved this!) , Spinach and Ricotta ravioli and of course the must eat in Rome – a Tonarelli Cacio e Pepe…my second tasting of that dish today and seriously who cares? This trip is all about Eat, Love and Pray! Their wine cellar is overwhelming – it has all the history and mystery – of course some distractingly good wine ! Just have a look at the size of their wine list our guide is holding – it’s quite spectacular!
Strolling through these lively streets, even the windows of the apartments above are swung open to take in these scenes. Not a smoker myself, but just watching a couple having a quiet moment – the smoke from their slim cigarettes swirling into the blackness of the skies, its such a seductive scene…
I must admit, I have completely graduated in the art of selecting gelato and the flavours I find at Fatamorgana ( Via Roma Libera 11) are mind blowing…. Black Rice and Rosebuds, Almond Apple and Cinnamon, Liquorice with swirls of Tahitian Vanilla. One of the things I clearly clearly remember is to AVOID all those so called gelatos that rise up in puffy swirls of cloudy waves of cream. Real Gelato is meant to be FLAT as a salt pan. As the world moves towards more commercialization, the true art of traditional dishes such as gelato get lost in the mist of it all…so have a little think about it next time, that extra creamy fluffy ‘gelato’ is more likely to be full of wood chips . ( 100% scientifically proven!)
The love of living life to the fullest, eating the finest fare and enjoying family life, even in the evenings where children sit and devour huge bowls of paste – is very much obvious to me on this magical night spent with complete strangers, now friends that I continue to exchange memories with. I’m so excited by the huge outdoor screens – a wonderful Classic playing out, free for the whole of summer for people to enjoy.
I’m embracing this lifestyle with all my heart and as I head back to my hotel, finally allowing my feet a rest in a taxi, I take it all in and send out an intention to the universe that I will return one day, to live here in the midst of all this culinary wonder.
Thank you my beloved Rome, you have revived so much heart and happiness……