I know what you really want to hear- what did I eat. Well ladies and gents, Massi and I had the opportunity to take one of the tours offered by The Roman Food Tour. We took what was probably one of the most popular, if not the most classic- concentrated around the historical center and featuring stops at The Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain, and the Spanish Steps. As background information, I should disclose that this was my fourth international food tour, the previous being The Greenwich Village and NoLita tours in New York City, as well as the Milan Food Tour. Hence, I'm getting pretty well-versed in food tours. It's a hard job, but someone's gotta do it right?
The Roman Food Tour: Wine and Food Tour in the Historical Center
Our first stop consisted of speciality coffee and introductions where I absent-mindedly ordered water, having already prepared my tastebuds for something less coffee-flavored and more alcohol-flavored. I ended up stealing most of Massi's delicious coffee granita:
“Dinner” is a tris of pasta just a short walk from Hotel Fontana, again partnered with a yummy wine that I absolutely forgot to note the name of. The atmosphere in the restaurant is rather unique- the walls are covered with drawings and the first floor filled to the brim with tourists. This stop is the weakest link on the tour in my opinion but Rome may be to blame for this one. Being so tourist-centric, you very typically have to be in the know and get out of the historical center to eat a decent dish of pasta. Every terrible plate of pasta I’ve had in my 8 years experience of Italy has been in Rome and unfortunately this one didn’t break the pattern. After Ranluca finished her speech about the joys of pasta and the importance of the al dente concept, we were given three different types of pasta that were probably cooked another 20 minutes past the point of al dente. To be honest, it was similar to something one might get from Olive Garden or any Italian food chain in North America. Was this a one-off? It’s possible. Did the other tourists on the tour (a mix of British and Americans) realize? Not sure. I think if you had travelled anywhere else prior to Rome, the chances are very high that you’d have already experienced a really good plate of pasta. If you hadn’t and Rome was your first stop, well ignorance is bliss in this case.
The view of the Trevi Fountain and the wines served at this stop are the stuff dreams are made of. The guide is knowledgable and entertaining and you definitely get your money’s worth of food and friends at the end of it all. (The negatives section below looks way longer than the positives but it's just because I had a bit of explaining to do, list-wise, the positives would far outrun the negatives!).
Our tour was slightly rushed at some points and I'm not sure of where the culprit might be, whether we were slow eaters or we got off on the wrong foot while waiting for our colossal meat and cheese boards at Antica Salumeria (they took awhile to arrive). This was not a problem at all for the group, I think everyone was fairly oblivious to this however, as an Italian-speaker, it was quite blatant to me that there was some tension at our stop at the Hotel Fontana. The fellow there gave our poor tour guide a berating for being late, responded to her questions rather rudely and all in all was clearly in a hurry to get us to leave ASAP. I must emphasize, this was not the fault of the tour but it created a feeling of inhospitality for anyone who might happen to understand Italian (or body language really).
This tour is perfect, in my opinion, for first-timers to Rome because you get a sampling of everything from food to culinary facts to sight-seeing. You will leave wiser and a few pounds heavier!
For more photos that were not included in this post, please check out the blog's official Facebook page: www.facebook.com/questadolcevitablog
Find and book The Roman Food Tour here: http://foodtourrome.com/