Wine tours Rome in a nutshell


Coming from Napa area in California, I arrived in Rome with high hopes and expectations. Raised around some of the finest wines, I was still very excited to try the wine in Italy. At first, I was disappointed. It is not easy to go into a supermarket and choose a bottle of wine in a foreign language. It is also not easy to choose a bottle or glass of wine from restaurant wine lists. Some restaurants and wine bars have menus that are almost the same size as the bible. If your Italian is anything like mine was, and you get around saying “ciao, arrivederci, pizza, scuzi, and grazie”, good luck. Fortunately, after many weeks of struggling, I found some Roman friends.

Unfortunately, if you are only coming to Rome for a couple of days it is hard to find Italian friends. Luckily, I am your new best friend, and I am here to steer you in the right direction. First off, Do NOT be afraid of the vino della casa (house wine) when you are visiting an osteria, trattoria or ristorante. Drink the table wine; it is cheap. The restaurant itself may even produce it. Many Roman restaurants have been around for many generations. More often than not they have little farms outside of city center, which produce for meals. Sometimes they even supply the grapes for the wine, and olives for olive oil.

After choosing the house wine, there is still one more decision to be made. White or Red? The right wine can enhance a dish to perfection. For fish, seafood, chicken, duck quail, or light olive oil based pasta, a white house wine should be more pleasant. When ordering tomato-based meals, big game, or spicy foods, a red wine is usually more complementary.

If you have a sophisticated appreciation for wine and would like to sample sophisticated wine, make your way to a wine bar. It is nearly impossible to focus on the wine you are having with dinner when you are having Italian food. When your plate arrives, your eyes begin to bulge out of their sockets; nothing else matters in the world. If you would rather sit and order regional wines by the glass with snacks and small finger foods, look for enoteche. Relaxed and full of ambience and good wine, these are lovely spots for light and inexpensive lunches; perfect to educate your palate and recharge your batteries.

Join a Rome wine tasting or wine tours outside Rome with When in Rome Tours, a real treat for connoisseurs of Italian food and wine. Several wines from around Italy are served with many choices of cheese and meat from local farms. Roman wine tasting at it’s finest.

CO

Donna Prosciutto!


donna-prosciutto

It is safe to say that Italians are usually pretty liberal about nudity. Nudity is found everywhere, from modern TV and print ads to nude sunbathers all over its beaches to the walls of Italy’s treasured museums and villas.

Italians and Europeans in general often call Americans prudish and had quite a laugh at the scandal surrounding Janet Jackson’s brief display of nipple at the superbowl. Americans are taught that nudity is a dirty thing, while Europeans seem to think “if you have it, flaunt it”.

This is why this recent scandal caught my attention. Normally, A nude woman on a billboard would not raise attention in Italy. But when you add two slices of Prosciutto to said nude woman’s derriere, suddenly people are talking. In Capri, where the advertisement was placed, advocacy groups are fuming over this image.

Here’ s my question: Are they more concerned about the dignity of the Woman, or the Prosciutto?

DR

To spit or not to spit, a wine tours Rome primer


Having a good glass of wine is not a luxury in Rome, but standard. Beer drinkers beware; Rome is in serious need of more pubs. Fortunately, the lack of pubs is compensated by a great deal of wine bars.

Romans care very much about tradition and etiquette. Nasty facial expressions and piercing glances will shoot at you in every direction after ordering a cappuccino in the afternoon. So, if you have never been to a wine tasting, try to embrace the art of etiquette.

To spit or not to spit? Professional wine tasters have discovered that if they swallow all the wine they taste, they become far less thoughtful and capable of evaluating each glass of wine (especially as the day goes on). These wine connoisseurs! So spitting became acceptable. In some wineries (which you are unlikely to find in city center Rome), tasters would sometimes spit right onto the floor or into drains. But in most wine tasting bars, they provide a spittoon, which is usually just a bucket or plastic container for each customer. To some people this is disgusting, and at first, most people are unwilling to spit out wine. Two reasons why spitting can seem impolite; first, most people are taught from mother never to spit in public; it’s rude. Second, it usually costs a fair bit to go wine tasting and it’s a shame to waste the wine…

Well, if you decide to drink all of your wine at one of the many wine tours in Rome, which many people do, you could possibly miss out on other things. At many wine bars, they will advise that you don’t drink all of the wine for a couple reasons. One, evaluating the wines after glass 4-5 will become much more difficult. Wine usually ranges between 11-13% alcohol. The alcohol is masked by sweet fruity of grapes but wine is a creeper, and will sneak up on you before you know it. Second, swallowing isn’t necessary to completely taste the wine. Eight to ten seconds should be enough time to completely taste the wine. Thirdly, and most importantly, (especially in chaotic Rome) if you are driving to the tasting, it would be smart to have one person be the “spitter”.

In the end, the decision is completely the taster’s choice. If you choose to spit out the wine, which may seem strange, it’s not, and has actually become quite customary (it may even make you seem more experienced than you are!). But, if you cannot bring yourself to spit, no matter what reason, make sure you indulge in the cheese, crackers, and snacks provided so that you will make it home happy, safe and sound.

CO

Ariccia (my little secret)


Just a short ride out of Rome lies one of Italy’s rarest gems. Visitors and locals must take time out of their trip or day to visit Ariccia. Ask any Roman, they will all tell you the same thing; this is the best day-time trip destination away from the chaos and bustle of Rome’s city center.

A magical village up in the luscious hilltops, it is hard not to fall in love with Ariccia. One of the best known Castelli Romani towns, which means “Roman Castles”. This charming little town is famous for mouth watering food and bubbly wine.

First and foremost, it is important to take a stroll in and around Ariccia on arrival to get your bearings. The most striking sight in Ariccia is the northern entrance point “Ponte di Ariccia” (Bridge of Ariccia), which leads to Bernini’s Baroque square. If you have the patience to wait for the incredibly late, but totally worth it Italian dinners, pass your time by visiting the two volcanic lakes that the town is positioned between. It is definitely worthwhile to check out these beautiful lakes on the way to Ariccia. These extinct volcanos play a great role in wine production in this area. The soil here is volcanic and naturally healthy. It is very permeable soil with good drainage and high ash content, creating a perfect environment to grow grapes. However, these lakes and sites are hardly the reason myself and the many other “frequent fliers” are incapable of staying away from.

After walking around town, up and down the steep streets, it is most likely that you will have become quite thirsty and hungry. Luckily you are in for a treat. Take the tiny sloping streets down to the little osterias (restaurants), and don’t forget to wear your comfy pants.

VERY IMPORTANT! Make sure you do not skip the speciality antipasti plates. It is common table manners to cover every inch of your table with cured pork, cheese, and the classic local dish known as “Porchetta” (slow roasted pork). The salty appetizers are nicely matched with a sweet sparkling bottle of wine called Romanella. It is much too easy to drink bottle after bottle of this wine. Luckily it is only 2 euros a bottle!

Unfortunately, it is not very easy to get to Ariccia via public transportation, like everywhere else in and around Rome, so sign up for a Castelli Romani Wine Tour with When In Rome Tours and get there in your very own limo. The tours generally explore the center of Frascati, Lake Albano, and Castelgandolfo, but are willing to include additional winery visits to Ariccia.

CO

Purchasing a Vatican ticket


Visitors to Rome with a passion for architecture and art are incredibly spoilt for choice (“an embarrassment of choices”, as the locals would say).  On top of any ancient history lovers list should be the Colosseum and Vatican City. It would be easy to spend your entire holiday within the walls of these incredible buildings. Unfortunately, it’s also possible to spend half your holiday queueing for a Vatican ticket, such is the popularity of the Vatican Museums. Buying tickets online before you come to visit is essential, as is a fully qualified, licensed guide even if you are well read as regards the history of ancient Rome.

Buying tickets and a securing the services of a Vatican tour guide online couldn’t be easier, and in doing so you will save valuable holiday time. Who wouldn’t want to swap time wasted in queues for quality time spent eating ice cream, enjoying a coffee, or discovering even more of this amazing city?  Pre-planning is key, and with the help of a guide you will be able to squeeze in as much as possible. Just let them know your expectations and leave the rest to either him or her. A good guide will know exactly what to see first, the best times to visit certain places, and of course, a decent story or two to tell along the way. The Colosseum will be brought to life as your guide recounts tales of epic 100 day battles, strange encounters between man and beast, and of course about the gladiators themselves.  Once inside the Colosseum you will be able to imagine what the gladiators felt as they prepared for a life or death fight in the huge, noisy, bloody arena. Learn how trap doors were used, what a “thumbs up” meant to a fighter, and how the Colosseum managed to control the thousands of spectators who attended en masse to cheer on their favourite gladiators.

The Vatican Museums are of course several museums in one, characterized by themed galleries designed by the finest artists of the time, sculptures, jewelled treasures, and of course, the Sistine Chapel. Outside, you can explore the beautiful Vatican gardens.

There is so much to see inside both the Colosseum and Vatican City, so be prepared. Book ahead online (both tickets and a guide), and enjoy the very best of the Eternal City.

JE

Frascati wine tours Rome


When most people come to Italy on vacation, they think about how much weight they are going to have to lose thereafter. Italy is recognized and assumed to have the world’s best pasta, cheese, pizza, gelato, and most importantly, wine. When most people think of Italian wine, they think of Asti or Chianti. But if you are visiting Rome, you might as well embrace the saying, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” Most Italians having dinner or lunch aren’t scrolling down the list looking for an expensive imported wine from Tuscany or Umbria. Instead, many Romans order a Frascati wine or “vino della casa” (house wine), which most of the time comes from the hills just south of Rome (Frascati region). For centuries, Romans would grow and purchase wine from Frascati, and the tradition endures today.. Chianti often outshines Frascati and other Italian wines because there was no need to export it around Italy or the rest of the world. Romans have always provided a healthy market for Frascati, which gives wineries minimal reasons to send bottles abroad.

If you happen to prefer white to red wine, you are in luck! Frascati is predominantly known for its production of white wines. Three types of  grapes are used; Malvasia, Trebbiano, and Greco. These grapes are used in many different ratios, varying in sweetness and dryness. Vineyards in this region focus mostly on table wine, served chilled and refreshed. Besides table wines, dessert wines are also produced and they are becoming more and more popular. These dessert wines have a beautiful golden color with a surprisingly mild and pleasant flavor. They tend to be quite strong and overpowering.

Although the Frascati region is mostly known for whites, many vineyards in the hills just outside Rome grow and produce a wide range of red wines as well, in Ariccia and Marino, for example. It is easy to fall in love with red wine from this region, even for the more refined palate.

If you are on vacation in Rome and would like to exchange the chance of city center tourist traps with a beautiful day sipping wine, head over to the Frascati region to explore beautiful vineyards and olive groves. If you are interested in taking a day tour, visit When In Rome Tours. They offer day trips to the Castelli Romani and the Santa Benedetta Roman vineyard. You will taste wine with the actual wine producers, indulge in tasty foods, and do as the Romans do!

CO

Have the Rome tour of your life!


Rome is a city full of surprises, a living museum with great weather, food, sites and above all people.  It’s the perfect holiday destination on many levels.  Visiting sites such as the Colosseum, the Baths of Caracalla, the Trevi fountain and the Spanish steps are just as pleasurable as enjoying a superb meal in the Ghetto, or taking a stroll amongst the cobbled streets of Trastevere while eating a delicious ice cream.  Either way, you will need to do some planning so that you don’t waste time queueing for tickets or wandering around the city with your nose in a map trying to find Piazza Navona!

Some places, the Vatican and Colosseum especially, have queues to overcome and can be skipped by booking a fully qualified licensed guide.  It’s worth doing not only as a way to jump the queue, but also a good guide has a wealth of knowledge and many stories to tell that will make your visit all the more interesting and worthwhile. In a group tour each person is issued with a headset so nobody will have to strain there ears above the noisy crowds in order to hear what the guide is explaining.

Many of the sites of course don’t need tickets or a guide, places like the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, Spanish Steps and the many piazzas of Rome can be seen whenever you want, a guide isn’t really necessary for these, but having someone who knows the history is always recommended, having someone who is passionate about the city and who is able to tell you stories and facts that you won’t find in any guide book, really makes a difference.

Planning your holiday makes it a much less stressful experience.  Booking ahead will save you time, and money, and by booking a guided tour you will be able to see all of what this city has to offer and still have time to relax.  Remember, Rome also has many restaurants, bars, shops and parks to see!  If you have time, why not book a trip to the island of Capri, Castel Gandolfo( the summer residence of the Pope) or even Pompeii?

Whatever you end up doing in the Eternal City, a professional tour will make your experience and unforgettable one.  This city is a treasure when it comes to architecture, history, artists and food, make sure you make the most of your time by planning ahead.  If you are not sure what to see, book a general tour of the city so that you can see the main points of interest and then you can choose where you would like to spend more time.  Whatever you see or do, one this is guaranteed, you won’t be disappointed.

JE