My favorite part of traveling is trying new foods, without a doubt. What better way to appreciate a culture than to indulge in the local foods, right? Italian culture is centered around food. It brings family and friends together and eating is a sacred social activity (as it should be!). Hey, Italy is my favorite country in the entire world for a reason!
As someone who is allergic to gluten, traveling on a strict gluten free (GF) diet isn’t the easiest thing and it takes much more research and planning to have a safe dining experience. So when I found a gluten free food tour in Rome, offered by Eating Italy, I JUMPED on it! Ahh, finally! I decided on the Taste of Testaccio Tour with Eating Italy because I have never been to that neighbourhood but have always heard good things about it. It’s a local, colorful, and hip neighbourhood in Rome and it deserves more attention than it receives. I also learned that Testaccio is considered the birthplace of Roman cuisine! Umm, sign me up please! ♥
If you’re like me and are skeptical about forking out cash for a food tour, you will be pleasantly surprised. The food tour hits up 8 STOPS (and 12 tastings total), so make sure you skip breakfast. You will be STUFFED by the end of the 4-hour tour, guaranteed! My tour was from 10:30am-2:30pm, and it filled me up for the entire day. I only needed a light snack around 9pm, but it’s basically breakfast lunch and dinner crammed into 4 hours of yummy goodness.
(note: this food tour isn’t only for those who are gluten free and is open to everyone. However, it can be specifically tailored to those with food allergies, which is what they did with me).
So What Does a Gluten Free Food Tour in Rome Look like? Here are the highlights below!
1st Stop→ Pastry Shopping
Rich & sweet GF chocolate fudge tart
Breakfast of champions…the non Gf version below.
I’ll take one of each, please 🙂
2nd Stop→Pizza, pizza, pizza (& rice)
There’s nothing like a local pizza spot in Rome. My eyes were bulging out of my head. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a GF option and I was offered a rice dish instead (boo!). The rice was tasty, but it’s not the same. So instead, I just lived vicariously through my pizza devouring tour members.
Next stop was a cute salumeria where we were offered salami, prosciutto, and cheeses. The prosciutto was delicate, tasty and tender. The highlight was the buttery truffle cheese, an absolutely amazing surprise! I usually hate truffles (I know, blasphemous right?), but this was one of the best cheeses I have ever tried.
Balsamic vinegar tasting. Tasted like honey to me, SO GOOD!
We had some free time inside to sample and purchase any delicacies we desired. If I wasn’t at the beginning of my trip, I would have stocked up for goodies to take home. Maybe next time!
4th Stop→The Non-Catholic Cemetery for Foreigners in Rome
I know what you’re thinking.. a cemetery visit on a food tour, wtf? But after all that food, it was the perfect break. Not to mention, a very beautiful and peaceful place. If you’re in Rome, I would highly recommend a visit here to get away from the crowds!
5th Stop→Testaccio Covered Market ( with 3 food stops inside the market)
This was my favorite stop on the tour. It was a local market where the shops were passed down from generation to generation and everyone knew each other. It was such a great vibe inside, and not to mention some awesome food!
Nothing like fresh caprese salad. Melted in my mouth!
Bruschetta (pronounced “broo skeyta” NOT “brooshetta”) with a homemade gluten free baguette, soft on the inside and crispy on the edges. They let me take home the entire loaf for later, which was a big plus!
Caprese-garnished with the freshest basil and mozarella. The ingredients were so soft and fresh, I didn’t need to chew much.
Fried artichoke and wine-the artichoke was a substitute for the bombettos (neck of pork, pecorino, and bacon) the others got to try. Delicious!
Bonus stop: I found a little gluten free shop and got my own suppli (fried risotto and cheese ball) and it was divine! (note: this was not included in the tour and I purchased it on my own).
6th Stop→Sit-Down Restaurant with 3 Pastas & Unlimited Wine
GF pasta substitute with cracked pepper and cheese. Simple yet delicious.
Stretchy pants would have been very helpful at this point in the tour. Just about to tap out but there were 2 more stops! Oh, and did I mention endless wine carafes? ♥
3 non-GF pastas to choose from
7th Stop→Suppli (fried risotto and cheese balls) at Trapizzino.
Traditional Suppli (fried risotto % cheese). Not GF but they look oh so tasty!
Suppli is a traditional fast food in Rome and costs only about €1. This option was NOT GF so I was offered some pulled marinated chicken. I did get to taste the GF version of suppli in the covered market, so I was satisfied to say the least.
The last stop was for dessert, and what better dessert in Italy than gelato? I finished the whole thing and then I surrendered the flag. I could not physically fit any more food inside my body. I had never been so stuffed in my life.
My first food tour was a success! I had doubts about not getting enough food but boy was I wrong! It was totally worth it and food tours are going to be my new obsession. I will also say that the tour would not have been as fun without our awesome tour guide Domenico. He had a hippie style, and was whitty, knowledgable, and charismatic. The tour guide really does make or break the tour!
I was surprised at all the GF options and the variety of foods offered. The only disappointment was that they didn’t have GF pizza. Other than that, I give it an A! If you have never done a food tour in Italy, I would definitely give it a try! It was the perfect gluten free food tour in Rome.
*I was a guest of Eating Italy on the Taste of Testaccio Tour. My opinions, however are my own. I don’t bullshit and I LOVED this food tour!
Have you Ever done a Food Tour with Eating Italy? Have you done any other gluten free food tours in Rome? Do tell!
On a last-minute whim, I decided to go to take a trip to San Marino from Italy. Mainly because I tend to like visiting places that are lesser known. And since most people I asked had never even heard of it or could not even point it out on a map, I sensed this was definitely one of the more off-the-beaten path destinations.
Where is San Marino?
Truthfully, I hadn’t heard of San Marino until about 6 months ago, and I thought it was just another city in Italy. Little did I know it was its own autonomous country landlocked by Italy. It lies on the east between the Emilia Romagna and Le Marche regions of Italy.
Top 5 Coolest Facts about San Marino
San Marino is the 5th smallest country in the world and the 3rd smallest in Europe, after Monaco and the Vatican.
San Marino spans 24 only square miles, about 1/3 the size of Washington, DC (my birthplace).
San Marino has the oldest republic in the world.
San Marino has no national debt.
San Marino has the lowest unemployment rate in all of Europe.
Architecture of San Marino
Did you know any of these unique facts about San Marino? I sure didn’t before I visited.
Above the Clouds
I decided to stay in Rimini, since it was significantly cheaper than staying in San Marino itself. While chatting with my friendly Airbnb hosts, they informed me that it had been cloudy most days in Rimini and San Marino, and to not expect anything different in the next few days. At least they gave me a head’s up. As I left the apartment the next morning, I immediately stepped out into a cloud of fog. I couldn’t even see 20 feet in front of me, it was that bad. Oh no, this isn’t good news. I only had one day to explore San Marino, so I had no choice but to move on with my plans. Maybe it will be more clear in San Marino?
As the bus ascended up the windy mountain road to the tiny hillside country, we became more and more enveloped in clouds. It was getting worse, not better. I was extremely bummed to say the least. I’m not going to see anything, I though to myself. This is probably the only time i’m going to come to San Marino, and I’m going to miss that beautiful view I see in all the pictures. The magnificent Fortress of Guaita perched atop a glorious mountain overlooking the green rolling hills and Adriatic Sea in the deep distance. But I was going to miss all of that, sadly.
When the bus finally stopped at the top, I got off, and made my way to what looked like a lookout over the area. Holy crap!!! We were ABOVE the clouds, literally. For what it seemed like miles, white, fluffy, powdery clouds were all I could see. I had only witnessed this while in an airplane. But here I was, in San Marino, above the clouds. Wow.
Above the clouds…
Drop Everything and go to the First Tower!
Honestly, there isn’t a ton to do in San Marino. But, the one thing you must do is go to the first tower, Guaita (or Rocca), for one of the most EPIC views you will ever see. Guaranteed. It costs 4.50 Euro to enter and it was well worth it. After seeing what I saw, I would have paid more! The 3 towers are located on Mount Titano, which overlook the surrounding land.
Fortress of Guaita
I was afraid that it was too foggy to see anything so I even questioned paying to go up there. But I decided, why not? I came all the way here for this, I might as well take a chance. Best. Decision. Ever.
Clouds for days
As I started exploring the little castle, I began to climb higher naturally. After the first set of stairs, there was a little lookout, where all you could see was clouds. I noticed the set of stairs to the big tower, where I presumed the best views were. I then spotted a little detour to the mini stairs, leading to a ledge. I made the little detour slowly. Another lookout with clouds, hmm. Before I went back down, I turned my head to the right, and there is was. BAM!
Wowzers, what an epic view! (shot with my iPhone 6)
It was one of those “ah hah”moments that stops you in your tracks, leaving you crippled and momentarily void of expression. I couldn’t think, I couldn’t speak. It might sound a little cheesy, but it was exactly how I felt in the moment. The Rocca was not only visible, but it was mightily demanding a presence amidst the thick fog. The sun began to peak out, as if it were a spotlight highlighting the magic kingdom. It was perfect. It was ethereal. It was honestly the closest to heaven on earth I have ever seen. Pictures cannot properly convey the essence of this place.
I worried about not seeing the landscape that San Marino so famously frames, but I got something even better. I only hope that others get to see it in the same light that I did.
On cloud 9 🙂
I originally planned on going to all 3 towers, but after the first one, I was completely content. There is no way there was a better view than that. At least that’s what I told myself. I could die a happy girl. It is moments like these that really make traveling so special, and what continues to spark my passion to see more.
How to Get to San Marino
There is a bus that leaves from Rimini train station that costs 5 Euro each way and takes 50 minutes. You pay for the ticket on the bus. The bus stop is right next to the Burger King. During the summer months, the busses leave about once every hour.
Do I need a Passport to Enter San Marino?
You do NOT need to bring your passport with you to enter San Marino. Although San Marino is not a member of the EU or in the Schengen Zone, they have free borders with the surrounding country (Italy) and operate on similar principles.
First peek of the clouds surrounding San Marino
What else is Great about San Marino?
No tax!!! They have many leather shops throughout the tiny country, so make sure to spend some time shopping while you’re there. I stopped at the leather stand right outside of the first tower, and I ended up buying 3 pieces of leather for 95 Euros! I even got my mommy her Christmas present. Score!
I sat up on this ledge for an hour, admiring the heavenly view!
Crazy Travelista’s Gluten Free dining Pick
Il Beccafico-had an entirely separate gluten-free menu with pastas, pizza, and desserts. I tried the homemade tortellini with ragu sauce and it was really delicious. It also had a great view of the surrounding landscape. There aren’t many restaurants in San Marino, so this may be your only option for gluten-free food.
Have you ever been to San Marino? Did it exceed your expectations or did it let you down? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
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