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  >  Attractions   >  Take Walks Italy tour review

One of the best ways to get to know a city is through its food. On a recent trip to Rome our family signed up for a Take Walks. If you are looking for a Rome food tour you can enjoy as a family, this one is hard to beat. Our guide was Ivaly, an American who had been living and working in Italy for six years. In addition to being an expert on the local cuisine, she was also a qualified sommelier. This was an added bonus for wine lovers like my husband and myself as her vinous expertise gave us a much needed understanding of Italian wine at the beginning of our trip, right when we needed it most.

Campo de' Fiori in Rome
Campo de’ Fiori in Rome

The tour began in the square known as Campo de’ Fiore, or ‘field of flowers’, so called because the spot was a meadow in the Middle Ages. It is one of the only squares in Rome with no churches because the area was once used for public executions. Since 1869, when the square became a fruit and vegetable market, it’s been a much happier place and remains central to the people of Rome. Around 80 percent of the produce sold at these markets is local and the atmosphere is chatty and friendly. Ivaly started us off with an olive oil tasting. You can see the look of slight disbelief on our son’s face in the photo below. “Wow, that tastes amazing!” Most of the adults felt the same.

It was hard to believe an oil could taste this good. The olive oil we tried on the tour was nothing like the stuff we had been buying in Australia. Ivaly suggested that we look for first press oils – the best because oil can go through up to three presses – and those made with Italian olives next time we go shopping back home. Next up was balsamic vinegar and pesto tasting. Along with traditional basil pesto, we tried flavours such as squid ink, tomato, white truffle and black truffle.

They were so good we bought a bottle to have for dinner that night at our Rome apartment. When we went to buy the pesto we discovered that we had a 20% discount voucher to use because we were on a Walks of Italy tour which was a nice surprise. The pesto was washed down with a liqueur tasting at a nearby stall where the grown-ups got to try authentic limoncello as well as traditional Italian after dinner drinks such as banana crème and strawberry crème. A couple of sweet tooths in our group bought bottles to take home.

Liqueur stall with little cups for tasting
Liqueur stall with little cups for tasting

At a salami tasting at Antica Norcineria Viola, a family run smallgoods shop dating back to the late 1800s, we discovered that salami was originally a clever way to use the little bits of meat left over after the wealthy got the larger cuts. The adults got to try some red wine with the meat which really brought out the flavours. You’ve probably worked out there is a LOT of eating on this tour. Using small portions of bread for the olive oil, balsamic vinegar and pesto tastings at the beginning of the tour is a good way to stop yourself filling up too soon.

Outside Antica Norcineria Viola with Ivaly
Outside Antica Norcineria Viola with Ivaly

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Salami tasting platter at Antica Norcineria Viola
Salami tasting platter at Antica Norcineria Viola

Next we stopped at the Cooperativa Latte Cisternino cheese shop which is so popular with the Romans that most of the shop’s buffalo mozzarella is already ‘reserved’ each morning. Here we sampled about seven different types of cheeses with a glass of wine (white this time). Our favourites included an authentic buffalo mozzarella and a sweet ricotta infused with sugar and lemon which tasted like the best cheesecake you have ever eaten. Ivaly explained this cheese wasn’t usually part of the tasting but the owner had brought it out because there were ‘bambini’ (children) on our tour. If you do this Walks of Italy tour with your kids, you should get to try it too.

Cheese tasting at Cooperativa Latte Cisternino
Cheese tasting at Cooperativa Latte Cisternino

Our walk around the market finished with a Take Walks pizza making class at a restaurant with a wood fired pizza oven and a very patient chef. The dough was premade as it takes 72 hours to rise but we got to shape and stretch it before creating our very own pizza. I opted for buffalo mozzarella, olives, grilled eggplant, prosciutto and basil and learned something really important during the class. All cured meats and herbs should be added after the pizza comes out of the oven so they don’t dry out. I’ve made a few pizzas since our return to Australia and they are much better now.

Pizza making class
Pizza making class
Chef put the pizzas into the oven for us as placement is very important
Chef put the pizzas into the oven for us as placement is very important
Here is my pizza creation!
Here is my pizza creation!

Lunch was accompanied by whatever we wanted to drink (Italian beer and wine for the grownups and soft drinks for the kids) and some fun people watching out in the square. The tour finished with a (much needed) stroll and an espresso at an atmospheric cafe which offered our group one final delicious slice of (Italian) life.

Disclosure: The writer was a guest of Take Walks. Her son paid for his tour and was equally impressed. This post contains affiliate links which you can use to book the same tour at no additional cost to you.  

Want to know more about visiting Italy? Read our tips for visiting Rome and discover some great things to do in Rome including some of Rome’s hidden sights, or detailed write-ups on where to find the best view of Rome, how to tour Rome on a Vespa or in a vintage Fiat 500, visiting the Sistine Chapel after hours, exploring Lake Como, touring Venice’s underground food scene, staying in tiny Pitigliano or Sorano in Tuscany, 10 things to do in Assisi, visiting the Colosseum, touring the Vatican, a foodie walking tour in Trastevere, exploring Florence on a free tour, staying at a luxury Tuscany spa hotel like Terme di Saturnia Resort or Fonteverde Tuscan Resort and Spa plus tips on how to spa like a local in Tuscany, and a foodie walking tour in the heart of Rome.

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Dr Tiana Templeman is an award-winning food and travel journalist, travel author and media industry academic. She is the creator of The Travel Temple, writes for Australian and international media outlets and appears on radio talking about where to go, what to see and travel industry trends.