Travel Tales from the heart of Rome

An exquisite Slow Food Experience at VOLPETTI Gastronomia in Rome

When in Rome I am fortunate to have the company of my friend Rachel, who lives not far from the Colosseum and the ancient Roman Forum. Her apartment is always so welcoming, opening out to a delightful garden where vines and trees give cooling shade and relief during the heat of summer and conveniently shed their leaves in winter making way for the warmth of the winter sunshine.

On my most recent trip a few years ago, we decided to stroll a little way out of the tourist centre of the city where the local Romans shop, live and eat. Rachel had often spoken about Gastronomia Volpetti in the Testaccio neighbourhood just south of the Aventine Hill. According to many Italians, and real foodies from around the world, this salumeria (delicatessen) is considered to be one of Italy’s very best.

There are many stores which are perhaps more modern, more fancier, with an even greater variety of produce, but at Volpetti the products are of supreme quality and the service is nothing short of breathtaking. As we entered the store we were welcomed by one of the family members, the fanatical Claudio Volpetti, and what followed was a pure gastronomic experience and education which has become a delicious memory.

Once inside the unassuming frontage, the store resembles a cave of mouth watering treasures, with every conceivable space taken up with cheeses, hams, salami, wines, prosciutto, amazing breads, olives, all stacked, hanging, and all so tempting!

Claudio and his panettone, “like no other,” the largest I have ever seen, and also the most delicious. The ambiance and aromas inside the Volpetti Gastronomia is heaven for the senses!

Claudio waltzed around the store offering many of the specialities, delighting us with his effervescent personality, offering forked tastings of many fine kinds of cheese, including a huge mouthful studded with truffles retailing at around $100 per kilo, and pecorino cheese to die for, prosciuttos, and little bowls of extra virgin olive oil with crusty fresh Roman breads for dipping, at the same time explaining the importance of knowing about the origin and aging process of the products.

He stressed the importance of knowing about the producer of the products, how the cows were fed and tended; “The land with better soil, air and sun will make a better cheese,” he remarked, as we sampled the divine Formaggio di Capra Francese –a French goat’s cheese.

We were is foodie heaven, and decided to purchase a selection of goodies to take home to enjoy with our bottle of  Madreselva 2001 from Antonio Santarelli’s Casale Del Giglio vineyards, a little way south of Rome in the Lazio region where we’d visited a few days earlier as very spoiled guests of Signor Santarelli. The famous white wine of Lazio is the delicious light Frascati, delightful on hot summer days, but on this occasion, the cheeses required a great red.

Just as we were leaving Claudio insisted we take a little Panettone to try. “This is a panettone like no other,” he insisted. He was so right!! I have never seen or tasted a panettone quite like the Volpetti creation and I must admit I have tried more than a few! Fruity and moist it was a taste sensation, and was sold by the kilo!

You will find Gastronomia Volpetti in Via Marmorata 47, Testaccio, open 8.00-14.00 and 17.00-20.30 daily- closed Thursday PM  and Sun