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Culinary Vacation in Italy: Rome as the base

A friend is planning a culinary vacation in Italy and using Rome as her base, she has asked if I could help with her itinerary. Here are some ideas which came to mind for her two-week holiday focused mainly on culinary experiences, with a few sprinkles of culture as well as time to chill. Before detailing the itinerary for the next 14 days, here are some general tips.

Cooking Vacation in Italy: Using Rome as the base

Piazza Navona

Places to Stay

For a two-week stay, I would recommend staying at apartments rather than hotels and preferably in central areas for example around Piazza Navona / Piazza di Spagna / Monti where it’d be easy to get around. Check with Go with Oh as they have some very pretty studios and also Cross-Pollinate which also offers B&B options.

Getting Around

The best way in getting Rome is on foot. That’s why staying in a central location is key. You can walk everywhere without being too dependent on public transportation.  Of course, you will occasionally also take the metro, bus or tram but knowing you can walk back to your apartment can make a world of difference.

Based on the itinerary, you will only be staying in Rome a few days at a time, and would therefore suggest buying the BIT (Integrated Daily Tickets – more about this and taking Rome’ public transport here) and use them as and when needed.

Day 1: Made it to Rome!

Benvenuta a Roma! After a long flight, it’s time to just enjoy Rome and soak it all in! Stroll through the areas near Piazza Navona, Campo dei Fiori, Pantheon and find your way to Roscioli for dinner. Start your vacation on the right foot with some Roman dishes such as carbonara, cacio e pepe or amatriciana and though not Roman, their burrata is also worth a mention.  Don’t order dessert as gelato is just a short walk away.

Head to Gelateria del Teatro for their watermelon granita and a whole range of innovative flavors (Via dei Coronari 65-66 or  Lungotevere dei Vallati 25).  If you’d rather a gelateria that’s nearer, V-ice (Corso Vittorio Emanuele II 96) or Gelateria Corona (Largo Arenula, 27 ) are good alternatives.

Day 2: Food Tour and Wine Tasting in Rome

Rome food tour with pizza making

Made this pizza on the food tour in Rome

Why wait? Let’s get you on a food tour that also includes pizza making! I’ve been on this food tour in Rome and my advice is skip breakfast and come with an empty stomach. Seriously, I am not kidding! Half way through the tour, I was full and there was still pizza, gelato and coffee!

After the feast, I don’t blame you for wanting to head back to your room/apartment for a nap. However, shopping maybe the antidote. From where the tour finishes, it is only a short walk to Via del Corso and you could easily spend the entire afternoon here. But don’t get too carried away, there’s a wine tasting that evening (depending on the day of the week)

Enjoy a lovely guided wine tasting in a wine studio near the Colosseum with knowledgeable professionals who will give you great insights into Italian wine. I’ve had a wine tasting with Vinoroma and was very impressed!

After the wine tasting, there’s no better way to end the evening than with dinner at one of my sister’s favorite restaurants,  L’Asino D’Oro and then yes, you’ve got to have another gelato, and this time at Gelateria Fatamorgana (Piazza degli Zingari 5).

Day 3 – 5: Off to Tuscany

Sleep in this morning and take it easy. At noon take the train from Rome to Siena where you will spend the next 3 nights in a Tuscan villa cooking, eating, drinking and relaxing. Although I haven’t experienced this Tuscan cooking school first-hand, I know the people who manage this and can assure you that it will be an amazing experience.

The wonderful thing is they have a garden where you will get to pick tomatoes, fruits in season, can them and bring them back with you! And waking up in the Tuscan countryside with a lovely breakfast all spread out – that’s just too good to pass up on!

Day 6: Tuscany to Rome

Cooking vacation in Italy: Colosseum at Night

Fascinating visit to the Colosseum at night

You may feel a bit hesitant to leave the Tuscan countryside and head back to Rome (can’t blame you!) but there’s a real treat waiting. A visit to the Colosseum at night! Visiting the Colosseum itself is an incredible experience, but at night, it’s unforgettable.

Day 7: Explore Rome on your own 

After a barrage of activities, (and having fun) you may want some time to chill and browse Rome on your own with no itinerary in mind. This evening may be a good time to dine at Rome’s only three-starred Michelin restaurant, La Pergola. Reservations are highly recommended.

Day 8: Day trip to Pompeii and Amalfi Coast

This day trip to Pompeii and Amalfi Coast is a long one – 13 hours.  The transfer leaves Rome at 7.30am and the guide will meet you at Pompeii which is good – you could probably get to sneak in a nap before you get there.

After Pompeii, you will have lunch in Positano on the Amalfi Coast and a quick visit to the town before coming back to Rome. It’s tiring but it gives you a glimpse of the Amalfi Coast, which I guarantee is sure to charm you, and you’ll be back here really soon (start planning!)

Culinary vacation in Italy: Positano, Amalfi Coast

The jewel of the Amalfi Coast: Positano

 Day 9:  Scooter around Rome

Spend the morning scootering with Annie! You’ll love her energy and this is one exhilirating tour that will take you to neighborhoods and sights that might be difficult to get on foot.  Oh and these places will offer you splendid views of Rome too. Tip: She also offers a Vespa food tour in neighborhoods outside historic center.

You’ll have the rest of the day free to pack and get ready for your trip to Puglia.

Day 10 to 12: Head to the heel of Italy – Puglia

Talking about getting off-the-beaten-path, few visitors know about Puglia, the heel of Italy’s boot.  This region is known for its beaches, food and rich in culture. You’ll take a flight to Brindisi (fastest way) and transfer will be arranged to get you to Lecce (known as the Florence of the South) where you will be based for the next 3 days.

You will be cooking with local women at a local farmhouse, get to see how burrata is made, taste wines and olive oil, have a guided tour of Lecce, and more. We were in Puglia last year and met with Ylenia who is one of the friendliest people I’ve met. You’ll be in good hands.

Day 13: Back to Rome

Culinary vacation in Italy: Metamorfosi restaurant in Rome

Beautiful and tantalizing dishes at Metamorfosi

Fly back to Rome by the afternoon and have the day to relax. Before you say goodbye to Rome, do yourself a favor and make dinner reservations at Metamorfosi. It’ll be a memorable ending to what has been an intense and delightful 14 days of culinary and cultural experience in Italy.

Day 14: Arrivederci Roma

I’m sure you will be back for more after this experience. This itinerary covers only a part of central and southern Italy and barely scratches the surface of what Italy has to offer. There’s still Emilia-Romagna, Umbria, and Sicily to name a few! There is that just so much to see, do and eat in Italy.

Are there any other culinary experiences you would recommend for my friend?  Let me know in the comments below.

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  1. This is perfection – lucky friend!

  2. I certainly enjoyed my food tour with Walks of Rome though we didn’t make pizza–we ate pizza and lots more. On my last two trips to Rome I also enjoyed cookin/eating with Chef Fabio I have done two sessions with him. In 2010 while planning my trip I found his program to be the only one which would take one client–I travel alone. My first venture did happen to be with two others. We went to his home in a town outside of Rome and cooked and ate and drank wine. Last January I took the half day program and went shopping and snacking with one of his staff; then cooking with her and with him and eating and–you get the idea.
    I have done the Culinary Stroll with Context too a couple of times and had gelato one time at Theatro you mention. I have also cooked with Maureen Fant with Context and taken the Annotated Lunch too. With Context though there have to be three people unless you purchase a private tour, Over probably 15 years I have taken almost every Context (previously Scala Reale) tour in Rome, several more than once if you friend wants to try a non-food tour.

    • Hi Joan, thanks for sharing your culinary experiences in Rome and the cooking class with Chef Fabio sounds fun! I also agree that the Culinary Stroll that Context Travel offers is outstanding, and very much in line with their other tours. I have taken them too, not only in Rome, and would highly recommend them.

  3. ofcourse i enjoyed your post but was so PLEASED that you also know Ylenia in Lecce!
    how did you meet?
    she is featured on many of my posts since i have spent to trips with her.

  4. What a great guide! Thank you very much for the love!
    If you need help find a place to stay just contact us @GowithOh and we´ll help you! :)

    • Ciao Sara, thanks for leaving a comment. Happy to share the love especially with GowithOh. I sent a few people your way as I know they will be well-taken care of. A presto!

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