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.


Scootering in Rome

When I first moved to Rome, I had never been on a scooter in my life, to be honest I was petrified of them. I was fine on my Raleigh Boxer zipping round the streets as a kid, but any form of motorbike was out of the question. Once in Rome, I met a girl who’s only form of transport was a scooter, and so whenever we would go out I was forced to perch on the back and cling on for dear life. Despite the fear, it was a great way to see the city. If you are brave enough to open your eyes you get clear view of everything around you, the sites, the smells, the sounds and of course that feeling of freedom as we’d ride on the pavement to avoid the traffic, even if they were blocked by those pesky pedestrians…

After a while I got used to riding pillion whilst my girlfriend would confidently zip through gaps with only centimeters to spare on each side and speed round corners using her stilettos as a counterbalance. It was fun. It was only a matter of time before I plucked up the courage to have a go myself, and as it turned out it wasn’t half as bad as I thought. Despite being surrounded by a thousand Evel Knievels, you feel surprisingly safe on a scooter, everyone seems to know what everyone else is doing, and once you get used to it you discover that there really is no better way to get around. Parking is never a problem, they are cheap to run and it doesn’t cost too much to hire one. Of course, there are many horror stories of people who have had accidents on scooters abroad, they are a dangerous form of transport and I would really only advise hiring one if you have previous experience, Rome is not the place to learn how to drive a scooter. However, if you know what you are doing and with a little bit of common sense, awareness and confidence, the back of a scooter can be a great way to see the many beautiful sites of Rome.

If scooters really aren’t your thing, then there are other mobile site seeing options. When in Rome Tours offer bicycle, Segway, and rickshaw tours on request, all great alternatives to the scooter experience.


The Baths of Ilica

There’s a few Christopher Rudders online, an e-millionaire, a few writers, and one who posted a video on YouTube entitled ‘When in Rome’. Not unlike a blood red rag to a raging bull in a china shop tucked away somewhere cosy like Harrogate, here I am writing about it. The video is historically accurate and lovingly packaged with an interesting perspective. The title of this article plays on the fact that Christopher is blessed with an endearing lisp. Addthis to his infectious pronunciation of names and places in Rome, for example, ‘Papal’ (say ‘apple’, not ‘aypple’), ‘Clement’ (say ‘lament’), ‘Capitoline’ (…), and you’ll be smiling. The only let down in an otherwise uplifting ten minute ride through Rome is when Christopher informs viewers that he took a ‘hop on hop off’ bus tour, which as we all know is tantamount to sacrilege in this part of the world. Not good when the route is point to point sightseeing of pilgrim churches. Outside the Colosseum, he threatens Rome’s reviled fake gladiators with death by plastic sword for attempted extortion (one photo, 20 euros). Christopher, a burly dread headed hip hopper from Canada, threw them a fiver instead of a bunch of fives.

Watch Christopher’s ten minute take on Rome here:

Official When In Rome Tours video:

TripAdvisor Disparity Index

When In Rome Tours fell six places last week courtesy of a particularly vicious ‘review’ planted on our TripAdvisor Rome page. The author didn’t even take her Vatican tour, she just couldn’t get her head around the fact that we were not able to refund her deposit the way she wanted. In the end, we bent over backwards to wire and lost money in her name by doing so. At time of writing, ten days after the fact with the same number of five star reviews newly published and said slander removed by user, we’re still six places worse off. Curious situations on the internet apart, what do TripAdvisor have to say about their flailing disparity index?


Thank you for contacting TripAdvisor.

We inform you that TripAdvisor’s Popularity Index (ranking system) is driven by the information travelers highlight in their reviews. Here’s a link to more information:

As I hope you’ll understand, we cannot divulge any specifics about how this process works, as that would reveal proprietary information which could compromise the impartiality of our system. Encouraging your guests to write a review of your establishment on TripAdvisor, when they return home from their trip, is the best way to improve your ranking.

You’ll find more helpful tips and information about our service in the dedicated Owners Support section of our Help Desk:

We remain at your disposal.

Kind Regards,

TripAdvisor Support Team

Will TripAdvisor Towers return us to our previous standing? Unlikely, but watch this space anyway…

Not a rant, just a presentation of tedium.

When In Rome Tours – Via Sebastiano Veniero 21

We’re moving! On July 9th 2012, we’re moving to bigger premises even closer to the Vatican Museums entrance! We’re more or less right next to the meeting point for Viator / Dark Rome Vatican tours which is the staircase connecting Via Tunisi with Viale Vaticano. They don’t have an office so if you would like to pop in to ours for a chat, a sit down and some relaxation time, you’re most welcome.

The new office covers approximately 130 square metres, comprising a reception area, customer service area, ample seating room, toilets, networked computers for customers to browse our website and book additional tours, plasma screens showing company / individual tour videos, and a costume area where you can dress up as a gladiator, a citizen of ancient Rome, and even a Roman Emperor for family photographs.

For details, please visit us at

New website coming soon!

Video a No Go

Having spent most of the day walking around Rome with a videographer, and all this evening with a home made ice collar wrapped around my brand new, painful beetroot neck tan, I have a few minutes to reflect upon how Italians et al. respond to video cameras in the vicinity of churches, ruins, and other random pretty places in bella Roma.

Churches do not like tripods. I have never liked tripods since I first heard Jeff Wayne’s ‘War of the Worlds’ in childhood, but we made it into all of them bar Mister Basilica di San Clemente. Be aware of the fact that the young man wearing clerical clothes at the entrance might not be a priest. The begging bowl and ‘look out’ girlfriend gives the game away. Ignore him or offer coinage, just be sure to make the right choice for humanity. People in real need, indeed dire need, do not try to deceive the good amongst us by faking the dog collar.

The Priory of the Knights of Malta and their famous keyhole. Never seen a key, never seen the gate open, never seen the gardens beyond. What a fantastic view nonetheless. We managed to film a sequence of moments, and bystanders who failed to capture the miniature scene queued up to snap our lowly video camera screen. Strange. Ah, an Italian tour guide bounded up unannounced, demanding that we ‘step aside’ for his private tour of two. Yes, we did exercise our considerable vocabulary.

La Bocca della Verità. Insane, crazy busy. The unkempt, officious individual who marshalls the line hates video cameras, tripods, and people too. We had to join the line and use one of our cameras to record hands of tourists in the mouth of an old Roman drain cover. It became an undercover operation of sorts.

Post out! New When In Rome Tours videos online soon!

Five new Vatican tours online!

We’re developing our in depth Vatican tours at time of writing to incorporate the works of Bernini and Raphael as stand alone tours, with more in the pipeline. For now, our new Vatican tour options, namely ‘One day at the Vatican’, ‘Two days at the Vatican’, ‘Private Vatican Tour’,  ’Vatican tours for Schools and Colleges’ and ‘Vatican tours for Pilgrims’ can be booked online by visiting the When In Rome Tours website. Our long standing Vatican highlights morning, afternoon, and subterranean Vatacombs tours are now regarded as the best Vatican tours in Rome.

However, despite the fact that our modern, comfortable office premises are located just 150 metres away from the historic Vatican Museums gate, Vatican tours are but a small part of the full spectra of Rome tours and Italy tours we provide. We do of course have many years experience in Vatican tours, and our fully licensed guides know the Vatican city inside out, but the work we do is not limited to Vatican tour guides working in the Vatican city. We are currently working on tours in Florence, Venice, Parma and Sicily, all of which will become a big part of our work in 2011 and 2012.

We’ve restructured most of our Vatican tour prices this month, so you can book Vatican tours by person as opposed to having to book within ‘range’ tours, for example, 5-7 persons for a family of five (5), billed @ seven (7) persons rate. This is an important step for us as now our Vatican tour services are not only the best Vatican tours in Rome, but they also offer great value. We are fast approaching 100 reviews on Trip Advisor and our Facebook profiles are seeing alot of new members, alot more ‘likes’, alot more everything! Now is a good time to like When In Rome Tours, so thankyou very much for your continuing support!