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Jun 1, 2007 07:32 AM

Gastro-cultural walking tours in Rome


I'm looking to do a one-day foodie trek/walking tour of Rome but haven't had any luck finding a tour operator. I'd much prefer to do as an organized tour than attempt on my own. Anyone know of a company offering this typr of tour?

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  1. I'm also researching for the same thing.

    I found some offered by a company called Context travel.
    Here's a link to their page with Culinary walks.
    They seem really expensive. Let us know if you find something more reasonable.

    1. If you find the cost of the tour below prohibitive, its dead easy to do this on your own - just pick up a copy of one of the food guidebooks, like Fred Plotnick's or the Gambero Rosso Rome guide - and you can pick for yourself from many many choices. For me, I would head to Testaccio first thing one morning - tour the marketwith its many vendors, wander the adjoining streets with their butcher shops, wine shops, bakeries etc. and above all spend some time in Volpetti's on Via Marmorata - Volpetti Piu, their tavola calda next door is a great place to try some of their specialties at a good price. There has been discussion before of the food scene in Testaccio. There are lots of good reasonable restaurants too in the area - if youre interested Im sure some hound will give current recommendations.

      Another scene is the area around Campo diFiore - it also has a daily morning market (more upscale maybe, not a permanent covered structure like Testaccio)and is ringed with stores selling charcuterie,and above all the Forno with its white foccaccia, worth the visit to the area on its own.

      But seriously there are places worthy a visit all over the city which you can work into your cultural touring - Trastevere, the Ghetto, Prati, Monti, the area around the Pantheon, etc all have streets and stores that are worth visiting. You can pick a theme - gelato, say or pastry shops, or traditional roman specialties or look for stores and restaurants offering foods of the various Roman provinces. All it takes is a little pre-preparation and you will have a very satisfying time.

      20 Replies
      1. re: jen kalb

        Jen-Thanks for the great info! I actually prefer to do the culinary exploration on my own, but I've looked at tours to get ideas. I'd welcome any other recommendations for markets, specialty food shops, bakeries, etc.

        1. re: jen kalb

          jen pretty much nailed it. deb and i take an apartment off the campo de' fiori so we can shop/cook on the economy. springtime is best.

          1. re: jen kalb

            Hi - I know this is a really old thread, but I was looking online for the two food guidebooks mentioned and cannot find recent versions. The new Fred Plotkin "Italy for the Gourmet Traveler" comes out right before we leave for our trip (5 days in Rome, so it doesn't make sense to "waste" the rest of the country) and the Rome-only book is from April 2008. Is 2 years old still current enough for a do-it-yourself food tour? Are there any other guides you'd recommend?

            1. re: truman

              Truman, Downie's Food Wine Rome is a pretty decent food guide book, with listings of restaurants, bakeries, pasta shops, delis, etc divide by neighborhood. I disagree with many of his choices of restaurants in the historical center but it is the most recent and comprehensive guide of its kind.

              1. re: truman

                The Downie book was published in April 2009. It has a lot to offer and was great background to our last trip. It IS heavy tho, not really made for carrying around. and you need to understand its narrow focus on specifically Roman food (tho it does list regional and some other restaraunts) .

                I have to chuckle when you question whether a 2008 book would be current enough for Rome. the Downie book is focussed on places presenting the traditional cuisine - those are not todays hot place gone tomorrow. If you are interested in knowing about hot new places, I think you would need a different set of resources or questions.

                1. re: jen kalb

                  well truman's got a point if it was published in 2008, it was researched in 2007 so its way out of date in my book (no pun intended).

                  1. re: katieparla

                    Amazon says April 2009

                    Even if it were 2007 it would not be substantively out of date given the type of book it is. You said above you differ with Downie on various judgments,as do I.. wondering how much info you feel is actually out of date?

                    1. re: jen kalb

                      I know FWR was published in 2009. I was referring to the other book truman mentioned above-gourment traveler i think it was. Anyway, anything from 2008 is, in my opinion, out of date. you or i might know which places had closed, which places had changed owners, expanded kitchens, improved, declined, etc in the past 2-3 years, but how is one planning a trip supposed to know?

                      i dont feel downies book is completely out of date but a handful of his recs have closed/changed hands and are therefore no longer valid.

                      1. re: katieparla

                        I dont think there is any book out there that is not out of date by the time we use it and most guides do not get updated annually. (downies book iIMO s less likely than most by its nature to be outdated.) It makes sense to use multiple sources and cross-check to avoid unnecessary disappointment. but it still happens

                        We were in naples in October and visited La Chiacchierata which I think you blogged on the prior year. (was it in the new Rough Guide book too?) anyway it seemed to have gone through a chef change, since the friendly young waiter pointed out a young man coming through as the chef (where was the older chatterbox you blogged about? IAt any rate is was a pretty good inexpensive meal but not special with an overcooked piece of fish (surprising in naples)..

                        Plotkin's wonderful book has been around for quite a long time, the and has had a few minimal updates since then - we'll see in the spring whether its a good update. I still copy pages out of the most recent editions, since he does focus on food shopping in representative towns and neighborhoods in a useful way. But that kind of book is a labor of love and Im not sure anybody can muster the enthusiasm to redo/rethink something as comprehensive.

                        1. re: jen kalb

                          havent been to la chiacchierata in years. that post was from my old blog and got moved over with a bunch of content. i guess ive got some cleaning up to do. im not surprised things have changed. la chiacchierata was certainly on the verge of pensione. i hope you visited other places i wrote about more recently like osteria donna teresa and cantina in via sapienza. both family run places with down home cooking.

                          1. re: katieparla

                            fortunately it was ok, this is Naples after all - just not what I had hoped for - your pic was mouth-watering.

                          2. re: jen kalb

                            Jen--What a shame about La Chiacchierata. The "older chatterbox" was the mother of the owner (the "young waiter"). Hopefully it was temporary. She was definitely a large part of the charm.

                            1. re: GeraldI

                              Well, its a shame I did not ask, since he the young man was so friendly.
                              it probably would have been better if I had posted this under a naples rather than Rome thread - hopefully there will be better information at some point.

                          3. re: katieparla

                            RE: the Downie book...for me, it was most useful in identifying food shops, bakeries, pastry shops, markets, enoteca, etc. It is organized by neighborhood, which is perfect for a traveler...sometimes you don't want to trek across town for a quick bite. He's identified highlights for each area, so you can eat decently no matter where you find yourself at mealtimes.

                            1. re: Hungry Celeste

                              Yikes, didn't mean to stir up trouble! I asked about the "current-ness" of a 2-year-old book because we have a local (Philly) restaurant guide of around the same age. We found out, once the hard way, that some of the places are gone and some have gone waaaaay downhill (according to more recent reviews from Chowhounders). I also remember some of the restaurants that made my belly happy on my 2001 visit to Rome, but I'm not going to assume that they'll be as good this year, if they're still around.

                              We'll check out Downie for some ideas, and perhaps Plotkin if we have last-minute time. (DH works for one of the major bookstore chains, so he can get brand-new books as soon as they are released if not earlier.) Will try to remember to report back after our trip.

                              1. re: truman

                                As a rule, restaurants in Rome do not change as much in management, style or quality as they do in North America.

                                So a "handful" of the restaurants in Downie's book have changed. He lists around 400 places, maybe half and half restaurants and shops. Shops tend to change even less than restaurants.

                            2. re: katieparla

                              What would be helpful is if you would post here the out of date recommendations. Most people using the book will have no other way of knowing, and most users of the book will be using it precisely to organize their eating and shopping to maximum advantage -- so it's a real disappointment to discover you've tracked down a recommended place that isn't what was recommended.

                              So please give that "handful" of closed or changed-hands places.

                              1. re: summerUWS2008

                                One that I noticed: the shop Chocolat, located just off the Piazza S.Eustachio, is now closed.

                        2. re: jen kalb

                          I am a big fan of the Downie book. As commented the food specialty shops are probably the strongest part of the book especially considering most food guides focus exclusively on restaurants. While I don't agree with all of his choices the book is well researched and he does a great job of incorporating the human element behind most of the places he writes about. I'm happy to have it on my bookshelf. I would definitely recommend it, especially if you are spending some quality time in Rome.

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                      1. Have any of you tried apps to serve as your guides?

                        I found this one this morning and it has good reviews:

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: gochrisgo

                          I have heard from one person that its pretty good and quite comprehensive. Probably worth buying for the convenience factor- though personally I haven't used it.

                          1. re: gochrisgo

                            Go - i just purchased this prior to my trip to rome based on EM's thoughtful recs here on CH. It's a wonderful app. We got here two days ago and have been to Forno Campo Di' Fiori, Panella, Trecolore, al vino al vino - all listed in the app- all fun, interesting and good. The app offers a realistic description, wonderful pictures and a detailed map. This makes it Very easy to find the places. We'll contine to eat our way through the lists of This app by E. Minchelli(who accoding to the app, does food tours?) as well as Katie Parla, Vinorama' and mfant of the Italian CH boards.

                          2. When I was in Rome in December, I took a tour/cooking class that was great fun. It was a small group (5 of us) and we walked around and purchased food. Chef Fabio also pointed out landmarks as we went along. Then we went to his apartment near the Spanish steps....cooked....and had a lovely lunch. I'd highly recommend it.. The website is called Fabiolous.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: perk

                              This past Weds I finally got around to doing a rome food tour and I was totally impressed.They took us all over the often missed neighborhood of Testaccio.The places were each well-chosen and offered a little taste of everything (pastries, proscuitto, mozarella, pasta, etc). Even living here I found each of the samples to be wonderful and the stories that went along with each one were all terrific. The company is called Eating Italy Food Tours and I have already recommended them to my sister n' law and her husband who are coming to visit next month.

                              1. re: roaminginrome

                                When I posted before I couldn't remember the name of our guide, it was Kenny and he is a really funny- definitely ask for him. The website btw is I plan on doing some other culinary adventures while staying here in Rome so I will report back on them as well. So much to do and so little time!