Hello friends! I’ve been in a blog blackout due to work obligations…I mean the kind that pay for all the adventures I write about…you didn’t think I just traveled and tweeted did you?

But the other day I had such a marvelous experience in Rome that I’m breaking my internet silence to tell you guys about it. I went on a Pizza Tour of Rome. Was it my birthday? Was I winning a prize for something? No, it was just Tuesday, and that’s the beauty of living in Rome. And you can do it too if you’re passing through.

Let me tell y’all about this: Rome Tasting is the same company I went on my famous Segway tour with, and I can’t say enough positive things about them. Centrally located, excellent English, punctual, and fun. We met our guide, Marco, who spoke perfect English and was just adorable, right behind Piazza Venezia on a sunny late-morning. We walked up the Via dei Fori Imperiali, and told us about the history of the area and about Trajan’s Markets on our left. The first open-air shopping mall, with stall after stall that you can still see, which would have offered everything from food to fabrics. It was also fascinating to see how much higher the street level is now than the street level would have been two thousand years ago. Did I just say two thousand years ago? Yep – I can’t even think about it without getting chills.


Rome Pizza Tour Piazza Venezia

Our meeting point for the pizza tour. Pretty spectacular. I didn’t even notice at the time I took this that Marco, our guide, was in this shot.

Rome Pizza Tour Trajan's Markets

Trajan’s Markets – Part of the tour – the world’s first open-air shopping mall.

Rome - Roman Gladiator

Just part of the scenery on the Pizza Tour.


A short walk up the hill on the left, and suddenly we were in the Monti neighborhood. Sidebar: this is one of my favorite neighborhoods in Rome, and it is not on the radar of most tourists. I think it’s kind of the Trastevere without all the tourists – winding, cobblestone streets without sidewalks (that’s how old they are, Marco explained, the roads and buildings on each side were built long before cars necessitated sidewalks), postcard-perfect sidewalk cafes, funky shops, and smells of coffee and baked goods wafting through open doorways. If you’re coming to Rome, a stay or a stroll in the Monti neighborhood will give you a peek into modern Roman life superimposed over ancient Roman scenery.


Rome pizza tour Monti

A typical little street in the Monti neighborhood.

Rome pizza tour Monti

Another little street in Monti. Imagine parking here. Shudder.

Rome pizza tour Monti

A hauntingly beautiful home being consumed by ivy. When you’re strolling in Monti, make sure to look up, too.


After Marco told us a bit about the history of the neighborhood, we got to our first pizzeria for some pizza alla palla. This is a long, narrow pizza made to be sliced in rectangular portions for eaters, served on a long wooden plank for easy cutting. We tried this pizza along with some little mini-pizzas with a simple tomato sauce as it was a little early for gobs of mozzarella and meat.


Rome Pizza Tour

Our first stop — and this sweets lover got a little distracted away from the pizza.

Italian cookies Rome

Homemade cookies for sale at our first stop.


Then, to a local alimentari (like a deli) where we were given different pizza toppings to sample and try: olives, ham, and cow’s milk mozzarella (like we use in the states) and buffalo mozzarella. It really is night and day. You’ll never go back to the cow stuff.  Buffalo mozzarella is a total game-changer.


Rome Pizza Tour

I know it’s a pizza tour, but this shop may have been my favorite stop. Tasting the deli meats and cheeses was great, but watching the shopkeeper serve his customers was even better.


Then, to another pizza place for Pizza alla teglia: similar to pizza alla palla except it is baked in long, rectangular metal pans, so it is a little greasier and more filling. One of the types we tried had pumpkin on it. For all my friends back home who are practically bathing in pumpkin spice-flavored liquids this time of year, this one is for you.


Rome Pizza Tour

Pizza alla teglia!


During our walk, Marco told us about the history of pizza in Italy and in Rome (it has the same root as the word pita in Greek), how the dough is made, the difference between Neapolitan and Roman pizzas, and why some ingredients go on after the pizza is cooked. In addition to the history of the neighborhood we learned about, when he talked about the history of pizza if I had been sitting I’d have been on the edge of my seat.

Ice cream break!! To cleanse our palates between pies we stopped at a local gelateria and tried lemon granita – a Sicilian sorbet. Even though it was October, it was a hot day, and a cold cup of granita was just what the doctor ordered.

Following that stop, to my surprise and delight, we were taken on a tour of the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore. Folks, this is one of the most important churches in Rome, is technically part of Vatican City (entering the church is crossing an international border), and in sixteen years I had never been in there! Would you believe it if I told you that one of my goals for this past summer was to go visit this church, and I never got around to it, and I signed up for this pizza tour not knowing I’d get a private guided visit. Destiny, man.


Santa Maria Maggiore Rome

The facade and bell tower of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome – part of your tour!

Santa Maria Maggiore Rome

The intricately carved ceiling of the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore

Santa Maria Maggiore Rome

Bernini, architect of St. Peter’s Square and the sculpture of the Four Rivers Fountain in Piazza Navona, is buried in this tiny, innocuous grave in a corner of Santa Maria Maggiore, as he instructed.


After the Basilica, more pizza, because of course. This time we got to watch the pizzaiolo toss, twirl, and flip the pizza dough into gigantic circles, spread the sauce, and slide in and out of a wood-burning oven. Only takes a minute! After that, we got to eat classic pizza tonda – round pizza, with scalding tomato sauce, melty buffalo mozzarella, and big, fresh, green basil leaves. This one will always be my love.


Rome Pizza Tour

Our expert pizzaiolo and our pizza ronda at the last stop on the tour.


I felt giddy during my stroll home afterwards and still do, a little. It was a delightful way to spend a few hours and definitely worth doing in Rome. If you want to book for your own group, go here.

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