A Food Walking Tour in Rome Italy

Most people visit Italy for the gelato and pizza. I wasn’t any different.

I essentially planned a two-week trip around the country to search for the best pizza north of Rome. (I did end up finding it — in Rome — but I’m still open to another round of explorations!)

On my own sort of food tour around Italy, I decided I’d go to the experts, so when in Rome, I arranged for a food tour in Rome’s Testaccio neighborhood. It’s not the most touristy area of Rome but, as I soon learned, there were plenty of reasons why it’s the best area for culinary freaks like myself.

The tour started in the morning so we’d first have time to explore the local farmer’s market. In the market, we met with some of the locals who’ve had stands there for years and years.

My favorite was Carmelo, the “Tomato Poet” who sells his tomatoes each for the same price—no matter the type. We sampled several different varieties just as Carmelo would offer for other visitors.

rome food walking tour

After the tour of the food market, we had the chance to try a local Roman breakfast pastry—the cornetto.

It’s something most of us on the tour had never heard of before. And it was amazing! There was also tiramisu in a chocolate cup. Can’t go wrong with that.

My favourite part of the walking tour was when we stopped at the gourmet foodie shop E. Volpetti. The shop serves gourmet cheeses (over 140) and meats, but what I most enjoyed was the balsamic tasting.

I enjoyed it so much I even brought home a balsamic vinegar.

Volpetti Rome Italy
Volpetti samples

After all those treats we spent some time getting a better history of the Testaccio area of Rome.

Rather than just stuffing our faces all afternoon, we visited one of Rome’s most famous cemeteries—it’s for non-Catholics only and is where the famous poet John Keats is buried.

John Keats grave Rome Italy
John Keats grave

Our tour guide explained some of the history of the area, which inevitably included details about the neighbourhood’s football (soccer) obsession, the mafia history and any number of your typical Italian stereotypes.

After exploring the more historical sites, it was back to the food tour.

Lunch included typical Roman pasta dishes and —of course—wine. By this time I was more than adequately full. But when the final stop of the tour was announced—Rome’s most popular gelato cafe—my appetite grew yet again!

real gelato Rome Italy
The real deal

In the gelateria, our tour guide explained the most important tips for knowing the difference between real and fake gelato:

1. Pay attention to the color. Banana gelato should be off-white not yellow (you don’t eat the banana peel!)

2. Pay attention to the shape. Real gelato shouldn’t have large, billowy mounds flowing out of the metal tubs. More rich and tasty gelatos while be full of less air!

3. Keep an eye out for the ingredients. If you see big brown boxes behind the counter, or empty tubs, then you’re probably not eating the real thing. Italian food shops will often prominently display their ingredients so just have a quick look around before you buy!

By the end of the tour I pretty much felt like a food expert, but thankfully the good food in Rome didn’t stop there.

My guide offered up all her favorite Rome restaurants so that the rest of my stay would be as tasty as the tour!

Check out more awesome Roman food tours below!


More Italian Travel Tips

Bio:  In 2009, Adam Groffman quit his job as a graphic designer in Boston and went on a 15+ month trip around the world. The life-changing journey took him to places like North Africa, the Middle East, India and Southeast Asia. Since 2011 Adam has been living in Berlin – Europe’s most hipster city. His blog, Travels of Adam, focuses on finding the coolest cultural things to do around the world.

Do you have any great food recommendations for Rome?

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22 thoughts on “A Food Walking Tour in Rome Italy”

  1. Hey Adam,
    Thanks for a great post. You’ve captured the Italian food very well. I’m jealous you brought some balsamic vinegar home! Next time, I must remember to do that!

    1. Hi Josie!
      Thanks so much for the compliment. You can buy quality balsamic just about anywhere, but it was no doubt one of best souvenirs from Rome 🙂

  2. My new favorite thing = Tomato Poet… I’m going to start putting poet after everything I do. Awesome.

    Also, that is a great trick with the gelato. I studied abroad in Italy and was taught to look at the banana gelato to see if it was high quality. Works like a charm.

    Awesome tour!

  3. Wow! My mouth is watering just reading this! The problem with Rome is that if you don’t know where to look, you just end up eating the same touristy crap that is everywhere around the city. I wasn’t thrilled with the food in Rome, but I am pretty sure it was because we weren’t looking in the right places. Thanks for the great tips.

    1. I know exactly what you mean Shanna! It can be hard to find good restaurants on a shot trip in a really touristic city. That’s why this tour was so great—the guide gave us personal recommendations for other restaurants all over the city not just in Testaccio!

  4. Awesome gelato tips! Couldn’t get enough while in Rome….or Croatia for that matter! Fave flavour on a hot day – lemon! Still want to try basil – have heard it is amazing! Touring in Santiago (Spain) right now – maybe I can find myself an afternoon treat! Your photos are inspiring.

  5. I recently visited Rome with the sole intention of discovering its best traditional food and wine and like Adam I was really impressed with the aged balsamic vinegar. I’ve written a few articles about it on my site but here’s a link to a fabulous tour that I did with Walks of Italy. I can’t believe how much I learnt (and ate!)
    My top tip would be to visit the Campo De Fiori market and sample the vinegars and other tasty treats of the Gourmet Souvenir stalls.

    1. Hey Kat, thanks for the comment. Next time you’re in rome check out the food tour with Eating Italy—it was one of the best tours I’ve taken!

      1. Hi! I recently visited Rome and I in a traditional roman restaurant when you can eat well and cheaply it called “Cucina Pepe”! So I discovered a little groups of young who started a particular business activity, a travel agency for all those who want to dicover Rome as its citizens and not as tourists…If any of you will in Rome for the next holiday I suggest you look their website for special and inusual tour in Rome! http://www.notfortouristrome.com

  6. Hi Caz,
    One of the best ways to visit Rome is renting a scooter. You will be able to go from one point to the opposite one in the city very fast and comfortable, without any problem to park and in a very cheaper way.
    Traffic is not so terrorific as we can imagine; and you will be able to visit the whole city in short time.
    congrats for your blog!!

  7. The food tour we took in Rome was one of the best things we did whilst in Rome. Not only did we get to taste loads of amazing food but the guide showed us lots of places we simply would not of found on our own.

    We also did a coffee and ice cream tour which was even better!

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