Tour Rome With Katie
Katie offers private, in-depth tours of Rome and southern Italy for small groups (max 6 people). Her offerings include culinary, archeological, and art historical itineraries, as well as wine and beer tastings and craft cocktail seminars. She is also available to host private events and refer trusted colleagues in cities across Italy. To request rates and availability, contact Katie.
Culinary Tours & Cooking Classes
Roman Cuisine in the Centro Storico
This walking tour explores the history of Roman food commerce and focuses on delis, bakeries, cafes and gelato shops in Rome’s historical center. We will graze through central Rome and taste bread, coffee, gelato and cheese while delving deep into the city’s cultural history. This is the perfect walk for first time visitors to Rome who are looking for food havens in the historic center, as well as a wide overview of what the Roman culinary scene has to offer. Watch the video on the left for a preview.
Roman Cuisine in Testaccio
This walking tour traces the history of cuisine in the Testaccio neighborhood, a working class district known for its traditional Roman fare, owed in large part to the slaughterhouse and cattle market that were created in the area at the end of the 18th century. With a prime location along the river, Testaccio was a hub of import/export activity during the industrial revolution and still clings to those traditions as the area becomes ever more gentrified. We will explore the new Testaccio market, a recently constructed edifice steps from the MACRO Museum, and which sells produce, meat, cheeses, and more. At the old slaughterhouse, we will discus offal and other poor cuts, and visit bakeries and food shops to taste local specialties.
Roman Cuisine in Prati and Trionfale
The neighborhood just north of the Vatican is pleasantly tourist free and residential, making for a truly local experience as residents shop for their groceries. Its food shops and covered market, a modern construction that is one of the largest in Rome, are sensational and the area is home to the world’s best pizza by the slice. This walking tour will explore this overlooked district and focus on its delis, bakeries, market, cafes and gelato shops. Visitors who have already explored the historic center or are looking for a more authentic culinary experience will come away with an understanding of how Roman residents eat and shop in their own neighborhoods. For a brief introduction to the Trionfale district, watch the video on the left.
Roman Cuisine in Testaccio and Trastevere
This walking tour visits two distinctly Roman districts that face one another across the Tiber River. Despite the fact that Testaccio and Trastevere’s authentic appeal attracts an increasing number of visitors, the areas are still free from the larger crowds that inundate the centro storico, thus offering an unhindered view of how locals shop, eat, and use their pubic spaces. The tour begins in Testaccio and visits traditional food shops, as well as the new Testaccio Market, home to stalls selling fabulous fresh and prepared foods. After grazing through Testaccio and getting to know its traditions and specialties, the tour heads across the river to Trastevere for a sweet finale.
Cucina Povera: Offal in the Roman Culinary Tradition
Originally the food of the poor (cucina povera means peasant cooking), offal is now regarded as a delicacy and is served in the best of Rome’s traditional restaurants. We will begin the tour with a walk through Testaccio, paying visits to the market and the former slaughterhouse. During our time we will discuss the history of cucina povera in Italy and, specifically, Rome. While the concept of nose to tail dining has become trendy of late, we will explore the historical roots of this tradition, which has a long, rich history in the city. If requested, the tour will culminate with a curated lunch of organ meats and poor cuts at a typical restaurant.
Rate excludes the cost of food and beverages consumed during the tour.
Upon request, tour may culminate with a sit down lunch.
Cucina Ebraica: Roman Jewish Cuisine
As far back as the 2nd century B.C.E., Jews have made their home in Rome and represent the oldest Jewish community in the world outside Israel. What we recognize today as Roman Jewish cooking is fruit of universal Jewish dietary guidelines and, perhaps most importantly, the community’s forced isolation into a gated ghetto for 300 years, which resulted in a unique spin on traditional Italian and Jewish cuisine, using what limited ingredients were available. Additionally, the cuisine reflects many outsider influences—result of the Jewish diaspora of the 15th century as direct result of the Spanish Inquisition, and again in the 1960s when thousands of Jews fleeing Libya settled in Rome. This walking tour, followed by a curated lunch if requested, will focus on the history and development of Rome’s Jewish food traditions. We will explore 22 centuries of culinary evolution and taste local and seasonal dishes at kosher bakeries and a restaurant in the Jewish Ghetto.
Rate excludes the cost of food and beverages consumed during the tour.
Upon request, tour may culminate with a sit down lunch.
Food & Archeology: Trade, Traffic, & Enterprise from Antiquity to Today
A source of both nutrition and pleasure, food is also a booming commercial enterprise with a long, storied history. This tour allows visitors to mix archeology and culinary history in order to better understand the commercial aspect of Rome’s cuisine throughout history. Our time begins in the ancient produce and cattle markets near the Tiber River before proceeding to the base of the Capitoline Hill. A site for ancient animal sacrifice, it will allow us to understand the importance of religious ritual and the economy of food in the ancient world. As a way to discover well-known sites in a new light, monuments such as at the Circus Maximus also help explain how cuisine was used as a means to satisfy and manipulate the ancient Roman population. We then moved to Testaccio, an area where both ancient and modern archeological ruins testify to the diets and tastes of Romans from antiquity to the present day. Issues of waste disposal, regulation, importation, and economics are all ripe for discussion as we discover the evolution of food commerce in Rome. Our time concludes with a stroll through one of Testaccio’s former slaughterhouses and a visit to Città dell’Altra Economia, a space dedicated to organic food and wine, bringing our lesson full circle from antiquity to the modern day. For a sneak peek of the tour, watch the video on the left.
Introduction to Italian Wine
The world of Italian wine, with its 20 regions and hundreds of appellations, can be intimidating. During this tasting held at a wine bar, we will demystify Italian vino by sampling an array of wines paired with food. Sparkling white wines from northern Italy, rich rosé wines from Abruzzo, or reds from Lombardy are just some of what may be covered. This is the perfect experience for those wishing to gain knowledge into excellent, affordable wines and come away with tools to bring a special bottle of Italian wine home or make an excellent selection at their local wine shop.
The quality and production of Italian craft beers has increased exponentially in the past few years. More and more craft beer purveyors are becoming part of the Italian landscape to go alongside more established names like Baladin, who helped start the trend. During our tasting, we may sample beers made with heirloom wheats, made from grape must or fruit, even briny oyster stouts made with local seafood. This is an excellent way to learn about the country’s traditions, trends, and producers during a beer tasting and food pairing at a Roman pub.
Italian Cocktail Culture Through the Ages
Cocktails have hit their resurgence internationally and one only has to think about classic ingredients like vermouth and Campari to remember that Italy has strong ties to the cocktail industry. This cocktail seminar places Italian cocktails in their cultural context and explores ancient mixed drinks, lost pre-war spirits, local spirit production and Italian-style cocktails. From classics, such as the Negroni and the Milano-Torino, to modern twists, a strong emphasis will be placed on the resurgence of the cocktail in Rome’s historical center, looking both at hotel bars and new drinking establishments. The tour will begin with a short walking tour of the Campo de’ Fiori district detailing contemporary drinking culture followed by a curated drinking session at Barnum Café, which has quickly established itself as one of the premiere cocktail bars in the historic center. At the end of our time together you will come away with a greater understanding of cocktail culture in Italy, from aperitifs to digestifs, as well as knowledge of the history behind the cocktails and spirits most common to the country.
This tasting, which takes place at a wine bar, will focus on “natural” wine—wine that has been made with minimal chemical intervention in the vineyard and cellar (the vast majority of wine does not fall into this category!). Unfiltered sparkling wines, white wines made with long maceration on the skins, or reds produced in terracotta amphorae are just some of the varieties we may taste during our time together. We will also address the controversies surrounding Italian wine labeling, seek a definition of the elusive term “natural wines” and taste delicious—and affordable—bottles.
Art Historical & Archeological Tours of Rome
This walking tour takes a layer-by-layer look at the complex archaeological zones of the Coliseum, Palatine Hill, and Roman Forum. Within these sites we will be able to trace the origins of Rome from the Romulus and Remus myth through Republican Rome up to the Roman Empire. Caesar, Nero, and Trajan are just some of the names we’ll encounter as we use these three sites to discuss everything from propaganda and politics to daily life and entertainment. The tour provides context for other ancient ruins in the city and leaves visitors with a deeper understanding of ancient Roman culture.
The Campus Martius, or Field of Mars, was a vast area of Ancient Rome, an area of importance that was demonstrated through the building of temples, baths, and commemorative structures like the Ara Pacis. The current day Field of Mars designates an area of Rome’s historic center with well-known sites such as the Pantheon, Campo de’ Fiori, and Piazza Navona, as well as numerous Renaissance and Baroque palaces, piazzas, and churches. This leisurely walking tour through the historical center, where Romans have been living, worshiping, and gathering for more than 2000 years, can be tailored to focus on a specific theme or art historical period.
Modern Rome sits atop as much as 30 feet of archeology, a phenomenon that has led to the preservation of countless ancient monuments, including houses, temples, sewers, and theaters. This archeological walk focuses on the urban stratification that characterizes the city’s architectural history and provides ample ground to discuss everything from Roman engineering and construction to urban planning and building functions under the Roman Empire. Rome’s stratification provides an unparalleled opportunity to physically move through the city’s history, from modern street level down through the medieval and ancient layers that provide the backbone for the pavement we currently walk over. Due to irregular opening hours, sites will vary depending on the day of the week, but may include San Clemente, San Nicola in Carcere, the Crypta Balbi, the Vicus Caprarius, and the Case Romane on the Celio.
This tour will visit the Capitoline Museums—two buildings and an underground tunnel—which house the greatest collection of antiquities in Rome. Considered to be the first public museum, the collection houses iconic works such as the Dying Gaul, the remains of the Colossus of Constantine, the original bronze statue of Marcus Aurelius—the one in Piazza Campidoglio is a replica—as well as the foundations of the Temple of Jupiter Capitolinus. The museum visit will focus on Imperial artwork, the influence of Greek art on Roman iconography, and mythological subjects, as well as the styles and materials employed by the Romans.
The first Jews arrived in Rome twenty-two centuries ago and their rich historical legacy is alive and well today. This tour focuses on the history of Rome’s Jewish community and begins with a trip to the ancient Jewish Catacombs near the Appian Way, a site that was discovered in the 19th century and was one of seven known complexes utilized in ancient Jewish burials. Not open to the public, this richly painted space requires special permission for entry and provides us with a unique opportunity to discuss Jewish burial customs. Our time continues with a visit to the Jewish Ghetto, the neighborhood to which Jews were confined by order of the Pope from 1555 until 1870. Though many original structures were demolished after the original walls of the Ghetto were taken down in the late 19th century, we will have ample chance to discover the history of Roman Jews, from the new Synagogue and Jewish businesses that continue to make the area a rallying point for the local Jewish community. For a preview of the tour, see the video on the left.
The Appian Way’s importance in antiquity is only reinforced by its nickname—the Queen of Roads. Connecting Rome with Brindisi in southern Italy, it was one of the earliest roads of the Roman Republic. As function for the road changed over time, it became notable for its monuments to wealthy members of society and these remaining structures, such as the Tomb of Cecilia Metella and the Circus of Maxentius help us understand the power structure of the ancient world. Before endeavoring toward the aforementioned monuments, we will first stop by the Circus Maximus and Baths of Caracalla, where we will begin our discussion of Roman society and the use of urban planning as a social and political tool during the Empire.
The role of Augustus in shaping the Imperial Rome we still see while passing through Rome’s historic center today cannot be understated. His reign had a lasting impact almost unparalleled in ancient history. His name is practically synonymous with the Empire itself! This walking tour was developed to explore the manner in which Augustus definitively transformed the Roman Republic into his own Imperial showpiece through the use of political architecture. Our time together begins in the Forum of Augustus, an ambitious public building program and a strong introduction to architecture as propaganda. As we amble our way into the heart of the historic center, the Theater of Marcellus, Pantheon, Augustan sundial, Ara Pacis, and Mausoleum of Augustus will provide a rich, physical textbook for how Augustus’ architectural planning, both in form and function, bolstered his political ambitions. We will touch on topics of daily life during Augustus’ reign, from economic and social reforms to the creation of official fire and police departments for the city of Rome. At the end of our time together, you will come away with a greater appreciation for and understanding of Augustus’ legacy and his continuing impact on how we view Rome.
After a 30-minute train ride, we will arrive at one of Italy’s greatest archeological sites. The seaside town of Ostia reached its peak in the 2nd century when it was a vital administrative center for commerce. Due to its burial under river mud for several centuries, we have the opportunity to explore the well-preserved, bustling Roman port town. Thanks to its proximity to Rome—it is a mere 25 minutes away by train from the Aurelian Walls—Ostia Antica makes a fantastic option for those who wish to visit Pompeii but are not able to make the trip south of Naples. During our time in Ostia Antica, we will walk the ancient streets and visit a bathing complex, temples, a theater, a forum, restaurants, and houses to gain a fuller picture of how ancient Roman towns functioned.
Just across the Tiber River from the historical center, Trastevere was the neighborhood where foreigners and worshipers of foreign cults dwelled during early Roman times. Its charming maze of medieval streets and picturesque squares make it the ideal setting to discover Rome’s growth and development through ancient, medieval, and modern times. Along the way we will visit churches like the Basilica of Santa Cecilia, which was built on the ruins of ancient Roman houses, and Santa Maria Trastevere, with its intricate Cosmati floors and richly decorated mosaic apse. Time permitting, we will climb the Janiculum Hill beside Trastevere for a visit to the Fontanone, a Baroque era fountain, and for views over the city’s skyline. For a preview of the tour, view the video on the left.
Pigneto, Prenestina, and the Periphery
Beginning at the edge of the 3rd century Aurelian Walls and progressing eastward, we will delve deeply into the history and culture of Pigneto, a pleasantly tourist-free district of Rome. The well-preserved Porta Maggiore, an Imperial gate, and the adjacent Baker’s Tomb will be the first monuments to greet us. Using them as a backdrop, we will discuss the development of this part of Rome and gain an understanding of the area’s geography and history. Our walking tour will progress into the Pigneto district, which is flanked by the ancient Via Prenestina and Via Casilina. Built in the 1920s and 1930s for housing Roman rail workers, Pigneto gave inspiration to Pasolini’s Neorealist films and has evolved in recent years to become a haven of young artists and a thriving, diverse immigrant community. As we meander through one of Rome’s hippest neighborhoods, we’ll explore everything from ancient aqueducts and transit to contemporary street art and urban gardening. Finally, we will stroll through the villini, a section of Pigneto populated by villas made for Fascist era transit managers, before ending in Mandrione, Pasolini’s former stomping ground and home to aqueduct ruins. You can preview Pigneto by watching the video on the left.
Monte Testaccio, aka Monte dei Cocci, is an artificial hill formed exclusively by the fragments of millions of amphorae used to transport goods that were unloaded from the ships in the nearby river port in the Roman Age. The hill, which dates between 140 BC and 250 AD, constitutes an important source of historical documentation about the economic development of the Roman Empire, the commercial relations between the Capitol and its Provinces, as well as the food habits of the Romans. The visit begins with some background of Testaccio, a hub of commercial activity in antiquity and during the industrial revolution. The area still clings to those traditions as it becomes ever more gentrified. After exploring the concepts of ancient commerce and modern industrialization, you will hike up to the top of Monte Testaccio for views over the old slaughterhouse, the Testaccio district and Ostiense’s industrial ruins.
The Circus Maximus Mithraeum
Though scholars debated its origins, it seems the Mithraic cult came to Rome in the 1st century BCE from Persia, brought back by Roman soldiers who had been fighting in the east. Sitting at a depth of nearly three stories underground today, the Mithraeum of the Circus Maximus is one of the many places in Rome that reveal the complex urban stratification of the city. The Mithraeum of the Circus Maximus was discovered in the 1930s during the building of the set storage facility for the Teatro Nazionale dell’Opera. Probably built in the second century AD, the large building was modified many times, and in the third century AD, its ground floor became a mitreo. The rooms of the original structure were converted into the sacrificial and ritual areas where followers of the god Mithras would venerate their god, make sacrifices, and participate in a ritual meal of bread and wine.
The Auditorium of Mecenate
The name “Auditorium of Mecenate” dates back to the discovery of this building, which occurred during excavations required by the town-planning scheme in 1874. It was first thought to be an auditorium, a small covered theatre within the Gardens of Maecenas, but it is more likely to have been a summer nymphaeum-triclinium, meaning a banquet hall that was half-sunken into the earth and therefore somewhat cooler. It was once used for friendly get-togethers enlivened with water games and it consists of a hall with an apsis built at the end of the Republican Age on a tract of the Servian Walls. On the external wall of the semicircle the painting of anepigram by Callimacus alluded to the effects produced by wine during the symposium.
One of the most important Republican era funerary monuments in Rome located in a prestigious ancient cemetery, the Tomb of the Scipios was the final resting place of war heroes and generals, including Lucius Cornelius Scipio Barbatus (you may have seen his sarcophagus in the Vatican Museums), not to mention the poet Ennius. The main funeral area was dug out of a natural tufa outcropping in the 3rd century BCE and was used by the Scipio family, one of Rome’s most important patrician clans, until they died out. The reliefs, frescoes, and inscriptions that survive on the site testify to its original use and subsequent re-use during the early Empire.
Jewish Catacombs of Vigna Rondanini
The Jewish Catacombs of the Vigna Rondanini just off the via Appia Antica are among the best preserved burial sites in the entire city, replete with a mikveh, burial galleries, epitaphs, rare kochim burials (chambers carved perpendicular to the wall, found predominantly in ancient Judea), and frescoed rooms. These catacombs were discovered in 1859 and are one of the best examples of burial structures of Rome’s Jewish community, already present in the city as far back as the 2nd century BC and that became increasingly more numerous especially during the Empire. Some painted cubicles depict not only flower motifs and animals but also subjects typical of the Jewish faith such as the Ark of the Covenant and the seven-branch candelabrum. The catacombs reached their maximum development in the 3rd and 4th century AD.
Don’t see what you’re looking for or want to combine tours? We can design a half-day custom tour tailored to your interests. Some examples include “Classical Rome”, “Ancient Statuary in the National Museums”, and “A Runner’s Tour”. We can also suggest colleagues for private cooking classes and customized shopping itineraries.
Mix and match tours
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