Unfortunately, I have to say, I just didn’t get it.
My first trip to Rome left a weird taste in my mouth, literally and figuratively. Maybe it’s my fault, as I guiltily admit, I didn’t do enough research beforehand. During our short trip it was hot, crowded and dirty. Every which way I looked, there was another monument to see and more ruins to visit. Everything had some kind of critical lengthy historical significance.
Frankly, with only two days in the city, it was extremely overwhelming. We weren’t sure where to go and had little guidance from our hotel, so we ended up frequenting touristy hubs where the people were plenty, but the food was expensive and the quality was disappointingly poor.
I’m not the type of person that writes off a place and I was anxious to give Rome another chance.
I’m a big believer that every city has something uniquely special to offer. Now I’m not talking about the Roman Coliseum, the Pantheon or the Vatican [these are the obvious “specials” that every tourist with a dingy guidebook and Google Maps can locate]. I’m talking about the Rome behind the curtain, away from the endless lines and overpriced touristy targets. This time I was determined to find that Rome.
…..Ladies and gentleman, that Rome lies in Trastevere.
While most guided tours and excursions [understandably] gravitate towards tourist areas and attractions, I’ve come to learn that food tours actually do quite the opposite. Alternatively, food tours tend to avoid the touristy centers, because, as most experienced travelers already know, that’s where you’re likely to find the crappiest food at the steepest prices.
And that’s exactly why food tours are my favorite types of tours. They really give you an inside look into a new city: they take you off the beaten path, acquaint you with the locals and, above all, they introduce you to [what I consider the most important aspect of a culture], its food!!
Luckily for Rome, Italian cuisine is my all time comfort food, so the Italian capital already had a leg up. I knew if I was going to give this city a fair chance, I had to start there.
Just across the Tiber River, not too far from Rome’s bustling center, is the Trastevere neighborhood. This romantic, charming Roman quarter embodies the atmosphere of a small authentic Italian village. This was the Rome I craved. Lively piazzas, classic Roman churches, ivy covered buildings, it was just what I was looking for. Not to mention food enthusiasts have come to favor the neighborhood for it’s wealth of family owned establishments, outdoor eateries, homey bistros and traditional trattorias.
Unfortunately, the word is out on this once hidden paradise and many guidebooks have exposed its beauty to the world. Over time it has become yet another tourist breeding ground in Rome and those authentic family-run establishments are not always the easiest to find. If you know your way around you can still weed out the gems, but it’s way too easy to find yourself in one of Rome’s many mediocre tourist traps.
We ate, we drank, we laughed. We roamed the hidden, quiet cobblestone streets with not another tourist in sight.
We met the owners of little local shops and happily drowned ourselves generous helpings of everything cheesy and Italian. Prosciutto. Mozzarella. Pizza. Pasta. Warm bread. Fresh pastries. Creamy gelato. I ate and ate until my stomach began to protest. And even then, I happily ate more.
Thank you Eating Italy, for showing me another side of Rome!
Disclaimer: Eating Italy Food Tours kindly invited me on their tour for purpose of this review, but as always all opinions expressed are my own.
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