For our last day in Rome, I had purchased a food walking tour in the neighborhood of Testaccio as this year’s birthday presents for the whole group. We took a cab to the meeting place, a cafe in the center of the Testaccio area. Our guide, Sebastiana, was half Italian and half American, and was very friendly and knowledgeable. We started out with cappuccinos at the cafe as the small group (13 of us total) got to know each other and Sebastiana gave us an overview of the tour. There followed an orgy of food that will be impossible to do true justice to, but I’ll try.
First stop: Barberini, a bakery cafe. We started the day like all Romans do (so we were told), with a delicious little cornetti (like a croissant) and the most delicious mini tiramisu in an edible chocolate cup.
Second stop: A cafeteria-style “tavola calda” called Volpetti Più, where we had delicious slices of mushroom pizza and margherita pizza as well as the amazing suppli, a fried rice snack with mozzarella and tomato sauce inside.
Next, we visited Volpetti, a food store owned by the same brothers who run Volpetti Più. We tried the most sublime prosciutto I’ve ever experienced – it truly melted in my mouth -, a piece of truffled pecorino cheese, wild boar salami, and one other cheese that I can’t remember now. We also sampled both a young and old balsamic vinegar inside the store; both were great.
We made a non-food stop in an old cemetery for non-Catholics who wish to be buried in Rome. John Keats is buried there, and he didn’t want his name engraved on his tombstone because he was unhappy with critical reviews of his poetry.
Our next stop was to the Testaccio Market, a large farmers’ market in a permanent structure. Many stalls were closed because it was Monday, but we stopped at a vibrant produce stall to get tomatoes and basil, which we took to another stall to spread on crusty bread to make our own bruschetta. Then we visited another stall and used the rest of the tomatoes to eat a caprese salad with the best buffalo mozzarella I’ve ever had.
Next, we had another non-food stop to see an old slaughterhouse that is now a collection of art buildings and schools.
Believe it or not, it was time for lunch next! We went to a charming little restaurant called Flavio al Velavevodetto. Velavevodetto means “I told you so,” and is so named because the original owner wanted to own a restaurant his whole life, and everyone told him it was an impossible dream. We had plenty of wine (red and white), and three incredible pasta dishes. One was amatriciana, a sauce with cured pork, pecorino, and tomatoes; another was a very yellow carbonara that was different but wonderful; and the third was cacio e pepe, basically spaghetti with cheese and pepper. Sorry for the small picture, I had to borrow it from my mom since I accidentally took a photo in black and white on Hipstamatic, which looked very unappetizing!
Finally, we stopped for gelato that was over-the-top amazing. We learned that you always have to order at least 2 flavors to eat it like a Roman, and I had mine with fresh whipped cream on top. I can’t remember all the flavors I had (I chose 3!) but they were all incredibly rich and sumptuous.