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The Best Testaccio Market Tour In Rome

Produce at Testaccio Market in Rome
Image: ©2foodtrippers

Rome’s Testaccio neighborhood is all about food. Yet, somehow, we never made it to the city’s culinary nerve center of restaurants and markets during our first visit to the eternal city.

We’ve since made up for lost time by eating our way through the Mercato Testaccio numerous times. We’ve also sampled ‘the Roman four’, the city’s famous quartet of pastas, at classic Testaccio trattorias and licked gelato cones while wandering through the area’s grid of streets.

But, as is typically the case with Rome in general and Testaccio in particular, there are always new things to discover. We realized this while taking a fascinating tour that revealed hidden neighborhood gems and introduced us to the ghostlike Mattatoi, Testaccio’s former slaughterhouse that’s been converted into a large mixed use cultural facility. This former stockyard area of Rome is deep in history and food.

Testaccio Food And Market Tour

While the secret’s out about the formerly hard-scrabble neighborhood and its walkable grid, Testaccio has retained a non-touristy vibe over the years. Much of the credit goes to to its many long-term residents and their multi-generational businesses.

Taking a Testaccio food and market tour allowed us to dig deeper into the neighborhood’s hidden culinary treasures. And, as a fun bonus, the tour introduced our nephew Max, fresh off the train from his studies in Florence, to some of Rome’s most iconic dishes.

Testaccio Food and Market Tour Guide in Rome
Tour guide AnnaMaria took us on a culinary tour of the Testaccio neighborhood. The tour included multiple food stops as well as lots of historical tidbits. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

Getting a good vibe when we met our Devour guide, AnnaMaria, we suspected that we were in for a few fun hours of food exploration in Rome, or as she called it – a lasagna city with lots of layers. Spoiler Alert – Our suspicion was correct.

Hungry Like The Wolf

Testaccio Wolf Mural in Rome
Exploring Testaccio is a full sensory experience that includes street art like this mural painted by Roa. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

We arrived at Piazza di Santa Maria Liberatrice, the designated Testaccio meeting, point hungry. It was a good move as we’d be making seven food stops during the tour. And, since legend has it that a she-wolf had a key role in founding Rome, we joked that we were hungry like the wolf.

Apparently, the joke was on us since we quickly encountered two of Rome’s most famous wolves. Not only did we meet in front of a statue recreating the infamous she-wolf of Romulus and Remus fame, but we also walked past a hungry she-wolf mural painted by Belgian street artist Roa.

Don’t worry. We weren’t hungry for long. It was still morning in Testaccio or as we now call it – it was maritozzi time.

Food Stop 1 – Typical Roman Breakfast at Pasticeria Linari

Italians don’t typically eat big breakfasts. Most start their days with a quick pastry and coffee at the neighborhood bar. While that pastry is usually a cornetto in much of Italy, Romans go a different route with their local favorite – the maritozzo. We followed this trend at our first stop, Pasticceria Linari, a popular Testaccio pastry shop that opened in 1971.

Fun Fact
A maritozzo is essentially a brioche bun split down the middle and stuffed with a prodigious amount of whipped cream. Romans have been eating maritozzi since the 19th century when suitors would present buns filled with cream… and a ring… to their intendeds in early March.

Since we had a lot of food ahead, we were pleased that AnnaMaria split the maritozzi in half before serving them to us along with our coffees. Of course, that didn’t stop us from getting cream on our faces which was part of the fun.

Market Time At Mercato di Testaccio

Inside Testaccio Market in Rome
Mercato di Testaccio is the neighborhood’s culinary hub thanks to its cadre of passionate vendors and their stalls. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

Originally a neighborhood market when it opened in 2012, Mercato di Testaccio (i.e. the Testaccio Market) attracts locals from throughout the city as well as a throng of global food travelers. Some seek locally sourced artisan products while others linger over lunch. The most savvy shoppers come to this market to buy food and stay to eat foods like suppli and porchetta sandwiches.

We were happy to be in AnnaMaria’s capable hands during the tour. Although we’d shopped at the market prior to the tour, this would be our first time interacting with some of its vendors.

Food Stop 2 – Prosciutto And Cheese Tasting At Mania Del Gusto

Rome is in Italy so it made perfect sense for the first market stop to involve hand-cut prosciutto and cheese. We’ll call it a morning aperitivo since we sipped wine at this stop too.

To be clear, we didn’t just nibble on one prosciutto slice and one piece of cheese. Instead, the team at Mania del Gusto welcomed us to the market with two hand-sliced meats, one sourced from Parma and the other from Umbria, as well as ricotta, mozzarella and provolone cheese samples.

Food Stop 3 – Pizza Three Ways At Artenio

Pizza Samples at Testaccio Market in Rome
Topped with tomato sauce, potatoes and onion, these pizzettes temporarily satisfied our insatiable pizza hunger. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

Ah, pizza. How do we love thee? Let us count the ways. First, we love you when you’re topped with tomato sauce. Second, we love you when you’re topped with potato. And, third, we love you topped with onions.

Okay, these aren’t actually our favorite pizza toppings. But the pizzettes, i.e. miniature pizzas, we ate at the Artenio stall had these three toppings and they hit our pizza spot. Our favorite was the pizzette rosse topped with tomato sauce. The stall also sells breads stuffed with olives and cookies baked with wine, both of which justify a future return visit.

Discover our favorite Rome pizzerias.

Food Stop 4 – Cherry Tomatoes At Frutteria Campagna Amica

Max Eats a Tomato During Our Testaccio Market Tour in Rome
Max smiled before and after he popped this yellow cherry tomato into his mouth. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

Keeping the tomato theme going, our stop at Frutteria Campagna Amica was all about the fruit that doubles as a vegetable. Temporarily distracted by the stall’s array of seasonal zucchini flowers and figs, we rallied to sample red and yellow cherry tomatoes.

Both tomatoes were good but we preferred the candy-like red cherry tomatoes. We later learned that all of the stall’s produce is grown near Lazio’s border with Umbria and Abruzzo. Fantastico!

Food Stop 5 – Panini At Mordi E Vai

Stopping at Mordi e Vai was a tour highlight for us since it was already on our Rome eating list. The popular market stall sells a range of panini including the late Sergiio Esposito’s signature Panino con lAllesso di Scottona filled with slow-cooked beef and chicory.

Panini at Testaccio Market in Rome
Mordi e Vai’s Panino con l’Allesso di Scottona is a panini that justifies its signature status. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

AnnaMaria offered us two panini choices. We could try either the stall’s signature sandwich or one filled with tripe. We all opted for the signature sandwich and it didn’t disappoint. Even Max, who’s not usually much of a sandwich fan, approved.

Water Fountain Lesson

Tour Guide and Water Fountain in Rome
Learning how to properly drink from a Roman water fountain is a skill that we’ll use again and again. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

Our next stop didn’t involve food, unless you consider water to be a food, and yet it may end up being the most memorable stop of the tour. At this stop, AnnaMaria taught us how to properly drink from a nasone, i.e. a Roman water fountain.

Sure, anybody can fill a water bottle with the clear liquid. Thanks to this lesson, we can now drink water from a nasone like a Rome local.

Fun Fact
Rome has more than 2,000 nasoni sprinkled (pun intended) throughout the city.

Food Stop 6 – Pasta and Wine At Checchino Dal 1887

Owner at Checchino Dal 1887 in Rome
Francesco Mariani proudly welcomed us to Checchino Dal 1887. The traditional restaurant has been a fixture in Testaccio for more than a century. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

Although the market portion of our tour ended at Mordi e Vai, the food stops weren’t over. In fact, our next stop at Checchino Dal 1887 was easily the culinary highlight of the tour thanks to proprietor Francesco Mariani.

Mariani didn’t just warmly welcome us to his family’s restaurant. He also introduced us to oxtail ragu, a classic Rome dish that the restaurant claims to have invented.

Pasta with Fork at Checchino Dal 1887 in Rome
A tour highlight, our lunch stop at Checchino Dal 1887, included both oxtail ragu and wine. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

The claim has validity. Checchino Dal 1887 was located near the Mattatoi slaughterhouse when it opened in 1887. Since then and for six generations so far, its specialty has been fifth quarter cuisine.

Originally cooked out of necessity for people who couldn’t afford more popular animal cuts, this cuisine, in which every part of the animal is used, embraces parts that include the head, tail, legs and offals.

Choosing Wine at Checchino Dal 1887 in Rome
Choosing between red wine and white wine was the only challenging part of our Testaccio food and market tour. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

Sitting outside at two long tables, our tour group ate bowls generously filled with oxtail ragu while Mariani regaled us with colorful stories about the historic neighborhood and his family’s equally historic restaurant. He did this while pouring locally produced wine, both red and white, selected from the restaurant’s ancient wine cellar.

Food Stop 7 – Gelato At Brivido Gelateria

Every Italian food tour should end with artisan gelato. Naturally lower in fat, the frozen Italian sweet treat doesn’t require vast amounts of stomach space. Plus, artisan gelato tastes great.

Our final stop at Brivido Gelateria fulfilled this gelato requirement with a bang. A neighborhood fixture since it opened in 1986, the female-owned shop serves a range of flavors that include the usual suspects like pistachio and zabaglione as well more unique flavors like eggnog and salted peanut, some of which are sugar-free and vegan.

Discover our favorite Rome gelato shops.

Tour Logistics

Maritozzi Selfie at Linari in Rome
We were happy to eat tasty foods like these maritozzi during our Testaccio food and market tour. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

Booking a Testaccio Food and Market Tour with Devour Tours is easy to do based on the following logistics:

Tour Duration

Cook at Checchino Dal 1887 in Rome
Just like it takes time to cook a good meal at Checchino Dal 1887, our tour took three and a half hours to showcase the Testaccio neighborhood’s shiniest culinary gems. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

Our tour started promptly at 10:30 am and lasted for three hours and thirty minutes.

We arrived at the meeting point at Piazza di Santa Maria Liberatrice 15 minutes before the tour’s official start time. This gave us time to find our guide without feeling rushed.

The tour ended at 2 pm at Piazza Testaccio.

Tour Size and Accessibility

Produce Stand at Testaccio Market in Rome
Real people shop at Mercato Testaccio. They eat there too. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

At the time of our tour, the participant limit was twelve which was the exact size of our tour. We walked at a moderate pace during the tour and had ample opportunities to sit while eating.

This tour can can be modified to accommodate people with certain diets including vegetarians and pescatarians. You can and should address any dietary limitations prior to booking the tour.

What’s Included

Pasta on Table at Checchino Dal 1887 in Rome
We weren’t hungry at the end of our Testaccio food and market tour. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

Our tour included seven food tastings. We ate enough food that we didn’t need to eat breakfast or lunch on the day of the tour.

Be aware that some of the establishments we visited may be closed depending on the day of the week or the season. Some may permanently close. In other words, don’t be surprised if your tour includes some different food stops.

Cost and Availability

Wine Cellar at Checchino Dal 1887 in Rome
The opportunity to see hidden Testaccio gems like the ancient wine cellar below Checchino Dal 1887 is priceless. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

At the time of our Testaccio Food and Market Tour, the tour cost 79€ for adults and 55€ for children between five and twelve years old. These prices are subject to change at any time.

Consider the following Devour tours if this tour doesn’t fit into your schedule. We personally experienced and enjoyed them both.

Also consider the following Devour cooking classes. We attended both and give each a big thumbs up.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it worth it to take a Testaccio market tour?

Yes! Taking a Testaccio market food tour is a great way to learn about the Testaccio neighborhood and its food culture. Plus, you’ll get the opportunity to interact with local food vendors and fellow food-focused travelers while eating tasty food.

What does a Testaccio market tour cost?

Each tour company sets its own prices. The Testaccio market tour we took cost 79€ at the time of our tour. Your best bet is to check tour company websites for current pricing based on your dates.

How long is a typical Testaccio market tour?

Each Testaccio market tour is different. The tour we took was 3.5 hours from start to finish Your best bet is to check tour company websites for details based on your trip dates.

Rome Planning Checklist

Check out our guide to eating in Italy as well as our picks for the best Italian foods and the best Italian desserts before your trip so that you don’t miss a delicious bite.

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About the Authors

Daryl and Mindi Hirsch

Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website. Since launching the site in 2012, they’ve traveled to over 40 countries in their quest to bring readers a unique taste of the world.


Article Updates
We update our articles regularly. Some updates are major while others are minor link changes and spelling corrections. Let us know if you see anything that needs to be updated in this article.

We thank Devour Tours for sponsoring our Testaccio market tour in Rome.

Original Publication Date: October 8, 2023

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