Rome: An Afternoon of Market Tasting, Cheese Sampling, and Pizza Making

My walking tour of Testaccio was not my only food-related activity in Rome. Wanting to try something a bit more hands-on, I thought Walks of Italy seemed to fit the bill: a food tour with market tastings and pizza-making. While the pizza-making turned out not to be too in-depth, the day was still fun and the food we tried was awesome.

I met up with my tour group in the center of Campo dei Fiori. We didn’t linger long here – we would return later – but as we walked through en route to our first destination, I made sure to sneak a few peaks at all the stands teeming with fruits and veggies.

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We made our way first to Forno Roscioli, a bakery, where we tried their pizza bianca – a simple piece of bread with olive oil and salt. Ah, to be a Roman and have this as a snack every day.

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Then, it was back to Campo dei Fiori, where we stopped at a stand selling fancy oils, balsamic vinegars, and liqueurs. The stand – which I quickly jotted down was “Monica’s stand” in my iPhone notes – had been run by the same family for four or five generations and is chock full of fun products. I bought home several goodies for myself, included an aged, sweet balsamic and a pistachio cream liqueur.

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We continued on to Antica Norcineria Viola for a meat and cheese tasting. We tried a ton of different meats: a truffled salami, a wild boar marinated in Barolo, a salami piccante with chili peppers, a Roman salami, a peperonici jerky, and two kinds of prosciutto. The cheese spread was just as varied: parmigiano, percorino, buffalo mozzarella, burrata, an organic cheese, and cheeses flavored with saffron and peperoncini. I often think I could happily subside the rest of my life on Italian meats and cheeses; they are just that good.

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Just down the street – at a shop whose name, unfortunately, escapes me – we tried olive ascolane, or fried olives filled with meat. While I don’t generally care for olives (too salty!), I actually thought this was a pretty tasty snack.

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At La Focaccia, we had the pizza-making portion of our tour. While the dough had already been made for us, we added the sauce and toppings to our pizzas, then scooped them into the brick oven for baking. By this point, I was so stuffed that I could only eat a slice of my creation; luckily, cold pizza tasted plenty good eaten later at my hotel.

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We finished up with espresso at St. Eustace, a Rome classic. I drank quite a lot of coffee during my month in Italy, but this was one of my favorites: the coffee was so rich and sweet. This spot’s hype is well-earned, in my opinion.

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While our tour hadn’t covered a ton of ground in terms of miles walked, I was happy to be introduced to a few gems right in the heart of Rome’s most touristed spaces. It wasn’t quite as fun as discovering the more off-the-beaten-path Testaccio, but I still enjoyed my pizza, prosciutto, and cheese filled afternoon.

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