Making Pizza and Eating Our Way Through Rome
Rome was the last stop of our trip. We had more than a week to spend exploring the city, though even that wasn’t long enough. One of the things we really wanted to experience was the food, so when we read about Walks of Italy’s Rome Food Tour we couldn’t resist. I’m not sure I even read the whole description very closely, but they had me at pizza making.
Note: Walks of Italy is now called Take Walks and offers tours in a variety of countries.
A look at the market
The tour started in Camp dei Fiori, which is a market selling fruits, vegetables, pasta, and much, much more. Our guide Maximilian showed us around the different stalls, pointing out the importance of buying things in season. And while this market is frequented by tourists and locals alike, he did claim that no Roman would ever buy pasta here. Good to know.
Our first round of tastings was at a stall selling oil, vinegar, spreads, and a variety of liquors. We tasted several different types of virgin and extra virgin olive oil, and while most of our group was enjoying the different tastes, I really didn’t notice a difference from one oil to the next.
But then we started on the vinegar. Here I could taste the difference from one to the next. We didn’t taste the really expensive stuff like Andy and I had at our traditional balsamic vinegar tasting in Modena, but we did learn there’s another way of making balsamic vinegar called the original processes. It turns out I like the original process better, although I thought they were all pretty good.
After trying a few spreads on some crackers, they pulled out the limoncello samples. I’m no expert, but of the three or four times we had limoncello in Italy, this was my favorite because its taste was less harsh. As we were starting to move on, Andy noticed a chocolate chili liquor. Since this is one of our favorite flavors, we quickly grabbed a sample and caught up to the rest of our group. It was so good we went back later and bought a bottle.
Italian meat and cheese
When we caught up to the group, they were standing outside of a butcher’s shop. Ham and salami, I was so looking forward to this. Ham and salami aren’t specific enough names in Italy. They have more varieties than I can count: cooked, cured, smoked, with different spices, even ones made with wine!
While we were grabbing up all the yummy samples, Andy and I told our guide the type we were most familiar with in the US is called Genoa salami. He looked confused, he didn’t know what that was. So he asked the butcher, who also had never heard of this. We tried to describe it, and they gave us a suggestion but said they didn’t know of any called Genoa salami. Later when we went back to stock up for the train ride home, we tried a sample of what he suggested. It looked like our salami back home, and I’m pretty sure it’s the same thing. But it’s called Milano salami. Why the city confusion, America?
Next up was a cheese shop. The samples were set up from soft to hard, and though I wasn’t so crazy about the softest on offer, I did enjoy the mozzarella. One of the harder cheeses was made with saffron, giving it a strong yellow color, and another cheese was made with spicy bits that I quite enjoyed. Unfortunately I didn’t write down the names of any of the cheeses (or the hams) because I was too busy eating them.
Making my own pizza
Finally we got to the restaurant where we learned how to make pizza. They showed us how to roll out the dough, and then helped when we couldn’t quite get it right. Then the sauce and whatever veggies we wanted, but not the meat. Apparently the ham or salami should be added after you’ve taken the pizza out of the oven. Once we were done adding veggies, we spread the cheese on top, and into the oven it went.
My pizza was delicious. The dough was already prepared when we got there, which I was glad for after struggling with it during my pasta making class in Bologna, so I can’t take credit for that, but assembling the sauce, toppings, and cheese was lots of fun. I put tomatoes, peppers, and salami on mine. I found that I like the Roman style of thin, crispy crust pizza better than the thicker, softer crust of the pizza in Naples.
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This was one of the best tours I’ve ever taken. I loved learning about the food culture of Italy, and more specifically Rome, from a local guide who really knew about food. I had no idea we would be tasting so many different samples along the way, and it was interesting to learn about the specialties. Making pizza at the end was the icing on the cake (mixing food references?) and not only was it tasty to eat, but I sort of felt like a kid throwing all the toppings on it. If you’re going to Rome, I highly recommend taking this tour. I’m sure I’ll be doing this one again when my parents come over for a trip to Italy. (Note: We did! And it was just as great the 2nd time!)
Thanks to Walks of Italy who provided us with a free tour. All opinions and decisions to eat too much are my own.
July 15, 2013 @ 9:09 AM
Looks like a great tour and the food looks delicious
July 15, 2013 @ 12:23 PM
It really was a fun tour, and yes, so delicious!
July 15, 2013 @ 8:36 PM
The Genoa salami sounds a lot like going to Switzerland and asking for “Swiss” cheese. They will look at you like you’re crazy since they make so many kinds of cheese. What we call Swiss cheese in the US is really Emmentaler.
July 16, 2013 @ 2:54 PM
Yeah, it’s kind of funny looking at the cheese section of our grocery store here in Germany because we get a lot of cheese from Switzerland, and it’s all named after the hill or valley it came from.
July 15, 2013 @ 9:43 PM
What a fun tour!
I’ve never seen anything called Salami Genoa. Milano is a variety along with several others and the best prosciutto comes from San Danielle, a town near where we live.
July 16, 2013 @ 2:56 PM
Right, that’s what we learned when we were there. But in the US there’s a version called Genoa salami for some reason. Since it’s just a city name, and Milano seems to be the same thing, it seems strange that the name just changed from one city to another.
July 15, 2013 @ 10:53 PM
I like any tour that involves eating good food!
July 16, 2013 @ 2:57 PM
Exactly! And this food tour was fun as well as delicious!
July 16, 2013 @ 1:16 AM
Gav and I enjoy making pizza together often, and I know we would have loved this tour!
July 16, 2013 @ 3:01 PM
Well, if you guys go to Rome sometime, keep it in mind!
July 17, 2013 @ 7:00 PM
mmmmm so much meeeaaat
July 18, 2013 @ 3:16 PM
July 17, 2013 @ 11:38 PM
Rome is so great! We were just passing through about a month ago. Tirelessly eating our way though every little Trattoria and Pizzaria we could find. Such a great city! And comparatively so affordable! Our favorite pizza was at the Pizzarium. Did you get a chance to check that place out? Delicious.
July 18, 2013 @ 3:19 PM
No we didn’t make it to that one, although looking at the map, it looks like we were fairly close the day we went to the Vatican. Maybe next time we’ll check it out!
Caanan @ No Vacation Required
July 18, 2013 @ 3:16 AM
That will be just about enough of that. 🙂
July 18, 2013 @ 3:20 PM
July 20, 2013 @ 8:34 PM
I love making pizza at home…the ingredients here look so fresh and delicious. Italians have it good when it comes to food!
July 21, 2013 @ 11:44 AM
They sure do! Fresh is always better, and they are really conscious of what’s in season in Italy. Hopefully Andy and I can replicate the pizzas one of these days.
How to Plan Your Own Tour - Travel Made Simple
July 30, 2013 @ 8:04 AM
[…] need a packaged 10 day tour to get this interesting information. Look for companies that provide half or full day tours of the places you want to visit. You’ll still hear the history but your overall schedule will […]
August 11, 2013 @ 7:44 PM
How did I let this edition of Ali Adventures sit in my email inbox so long? I was just in the middle of cleaning up my inbox while watching the cricket on TV from the UK (Australia vs England for “the Ashes” – ask any Brit or Aussie and they’ll tell you the backstory to it)and I found this gem of a story…
Anyways, I finally read the whole lot and I’m totally intrigued by the whole pizza making process in Italy. My favorite pizza is the Aussie pizza. It’s made up of a tomato paste base with shredded ham, cheese and egg and sometimes bacon pieces depending on where you buy it. All of the toppings are on the pizza when it goes into the oven which appears to be completely different to the way you’ve been taught. I wonder if we’ve got it completely wrong here in Australia – Italian Australians included who run all the pizza joints in Lygon Street, Melbourne or whether there could be some regional variations in Italy as to how they do their pizza?
I’ll admit it upfront, I am so jealous that you got to do a pizza making class in Italy. The food looks incredible!
August 12, 2013 @ 11:52 AM
I think it’s normal practice for pizza places to put all the toppings on and then put the pizza in the oven. But the Italians are a little more picky about the ingredients of just about everything they eat. So we were told to put on the veggies first, then the pizza went in the oven, and then if we wanted any salami on it, we added that after it came out of the oven. It’s possible the Italians who run pizza places near you have just decided it takes too long to make pizzas that way or something. Food often changes once you get it out of it’s native area. There are so many dishes we call Italian that don’t actually exist in Italy.
The food tour and pizza class really was a lot of fun!
Saving Money to Travel - Travel Made Simple
August 14, 2013 @ 8:09 AM
[…] to five dinners in Amsterdam. Buying coffee five days a week for a month is equivalent to a pizza making and food tour in Rome. The memories you make while traveling will far outweigh whatever fleeting enjoyment you get from […]
Mary @ Green Global Travel
July 31, 2014 @ 5:08 AM
Looks like the tour was a ton of fun! Love that you get to make your own at the end with the local ingredients! Thanks for sharing!
August 2, 2014 @ 1:47 PM
Thanks Mary, it was a great tour, one I would even repeat!