Offered by the exceptional tour company Context Travel, the Food Culture of Rome walking and cooking tour is a must for foodies who would love to learn about Roman cuisine. Classicist-turned-food writer, the entrancing Maureen Fant leads groups of no more than six from the Testaccio quarter––the heart of traditional Roman gastronomy––to the new Trionfale Market and to exceptional food shops, while explaining the history of Roman cooking and talking about the seasonal ingredients that she purchases for a hands-on preparation of lunch at her home.
A resident in Rome since 1979, Maureen is a prolific author; one of her cookbooks was the Rome volume in the Williams-Sonoma Foods of the World series. She says, “Eat like the Romans. Cook like the Romans. Cook with me!”
The Context Travel tour begins at the former slaughterhouse of Rome, now a gentrified landmark, then it’s on to the spectacular stalls of fresh veggies, herbs, fruits, meats and cheeses in Trionfale Market. The famous Gastronomia Volpetti shop is one of Maureen’s favorites for cheese, bread, and cured meats, and she stops at a wine shop and for a visit to the archaeological site, Monte Testaccio.
Then it’s a quick trip to Maureen’s home near the Coliseum, where you unpack the provisions and cook or assemble seasonal, local dishes together — maybe a frittata con zucchine romanesche with fresh tomato sauce or all’amatriciana or cacio e pepe; insalata caprese, pasta e fagioli with fresh borlotti beans, pizza bianca with prosciutto and fresh figs, green beans stewed with green onion and tomatoes, roasted bell peppers, fried zucchini flowers, puntarelle con la salsa, or carciofi alla romana! Non-cooks in the group are welcome to relax with a glass of wine and enjoy the view of the Coliseum and Oppian Hill from the terrace.
Context Travel Tours
Guided by professors, researchers, and credentialed specialists, Context Travel tours are more like participatory seminars than traditional narrated tours. Depending on the focus of a tour, your guide may be an expert in archaeology, art history, cuisine, urban planning, history, environmental science or classics.
- Ph.D. and MA-level docents
- Groups of 6 or fewer, or private tour
- Exclusive access to historic & cultural sites
National Geographic said: “Clare from Context Travel had my daughter hanging on every word with her juicy stories about royal life at Kensington. The palace itself is fascinating, but touring it is a different experience with someone who can bring its history to life.”
Newsweek said: “To take a tour with Context Travel is to take a virtual graduate seminar in architecture or art.” Context Travel also offers a variety of other cuisine- and wine-oriented walks in Rome and in other European, Asian and U.S. cities.
(Once you’ve been introduced to the charming neighborhood of Testaccio, you’ll want to explore on your own. Here is a great tour of the district, from markets to restaurants and art venues.)