I’ve been a little MIA on the blog lately because Marc and I have temporarily left the land of heavenly pastries and baguettes to travel around Europe for a month. We just left the Italian Riviera and I’m already missing the summer heat and the few gelato here and there…Ok fine, a LOT of gelato. But this post is about when we were in Rome discovering the road less traveled.
Italian cuisine is one of my favourites. In fact, we literally dedicated some days for food tours! By that I mean we went from places to places in search of the best gelato and Italian food. Along the way, we discovered some pretty regions and hidden gems in Rome, without the crowds.
Located in the South East of central Rome and far from the tourist hordes, Testaccio is the opposite of touristy. You won’t find big attractions here, some may even consider it underwhelming. What you get instead is one of the more authentic neighbourhoods with an amazing food scene. If you want to feel the vibe of how the Romans live, go to good restaurants where the Italians eat, this is a district you can’t miss. Here is the Testaccio walking route where we discovered much more than the Roman monuments and museums.
We started at the Colosseum. Beautiful and impressive as always, but also very touristy. Photo tip: Parco del Colle Oppio across the street has a good view of the Colosseum minus all the people.
After a few photo snapping, we headed toward the Arch of Constantine and continued our walk pass the Palatino.
15 – 20 minutes later, we arrived at the edge of the Testaccio district. By then we were starting to get hungry so we headed straight for Flavio Al Velavevodetto, renown for their delicious handmade pasta. And delicious they were!
Their signature fettuccine alla vignarola stole my heart. Never had I tasted pasta this good! The texture of the fettuccine was perfect. The fava beans, asparagus and cured pork combined perfectly to give dynamic flavours. This dish set the bar so high that I compare all pasta dishes to this one.
We also tried the Rigatoni with braised beef cheeks, the pasta was a little bit harder and the sauce heavier, but it was very good as well.
The lively bustling atmosphere of this place really enhanced the experience. When we arrived around noon, the place was empty, but by 1pm it was full of Italian businessman and some food tour tourists as well.
Note 1: We saw some food tours coming in and out at super speed! It kind of takes away from the experience so if you decide to try it out, choose your tours wisely.
Note 2: Speaking some Italian would help for this one! We noticed that we were being served slower than the Italians. Lucky for us, we’re already accustomed to the French dining pace so it didn’t really bother us 😉 .
After some delicious pasta, we decided to “get lost” in the Testaccio and explore as we headed towards the Testaccio market. The atmosphere at the market was lively and the food looked delicious with plenty of choices from street food, to pasta and even desserts. We took note to eat there next time!
Close to the Testaccio market, you could also try some street food at a popular spot called Trapizzino. We tried the classic Supplì, a risotto ball and traditional roman street snack. But be warned, it’s heavier than it looks! (Or maybe eating it right after pasta was not the best idea…)
As we continued to walk off the food, we headed towards the Aventine Hill, where I was really happy to have discovered Via di Sant’Anselmo. It was a nice change from the ancient ruins in the old city. Here, the houses are painted in yellow and orange in a tranquille neighbourhood, with a soft fragrance of blooming jasmine lingering in the air. That scent will be one of my fondest memories of this Rome trip.
Next up: the secret door at Piazza of the Knights of Malta.
This is a hidden gem and another favourite! The Knights of Malta Keyhole is on an ornate wall surrounding the protected garden of Knights of Malta who were crusader knights and religious order. They are a part of the independent territory of the Sovereign Order of the Knights of Malta (Yes they are considered a separate country). The view through the keyhole was very enchanting and unexpected. It was a rare opportunity to see all three countries (Italy, the Vatican and the Sovereign Order of the Knights of Malta) all at once. I left out the photo of the view on purpose because not knowing what to expect made the view extra special.
After exploring the Testaccio district, we went back to the city centre for some gelato! When in Rome… 😉
Thanks for reading et à la prochaine!