Domenico and Donato at Volpetti Piu.
The indisputable keys to our food tours are our tour guides. If you’ve been on one of our tours, you’ll know, the excellent food would just be excellent food without the stories that bring the food of Trastevere and Testaccio alive. One of our awesome tour guides is Domenico Scola. When you first meet him you may think that he’s a real Roman guy, born and raised here. But you would be wrong! He’s actually from Philadelphia. But that doesn’t stop him from praising his adopted city as much as he can.
In addition to guiding tours for Eating Italy, Domenico founded the successful Tram Tracks—get in an old tram and have it drive you around the city while sipping some wine and listening to Domenico and his band play American and Italian classics. A great experience!
We asked Domenico some questions about Rome and Eating Italy Food Tours, and this is what he had to say:
How long have you lived in Italy?
I have been here 14 years—I moved here in August of 2000. Sometimes, it seems like yesterday… and sometimes it seems like I’ve been here for an eternity.
Why did you move to Italy?
I had already spent a semester here in 1997 and fell in love with Rome from day one. In love with everything—the styles, the food and most importantly the laid-back atmosphere. I went back to the US to finish my studies, but I knew that as soon as I graduated I would come back. And that’s basically what happened!
What makes Rome the best city in the world?
The beautiful piazzas that fill up with life and love and laughter every evening and all year long.
You have Italian roots, right? Where is your is family from?
Yes, I do. My grandmother’s family comes from Abbruzzo, her mom from Chieti Scalo and her dad from Ripa Teatina—the town Rocky Marciano’s family comes from. My grandfather’s family comes from the beautiful village of Acquavella, in the province of Salerno, in the area known as Cilento. I think it’s the most beautiful village in Italy, overlooking a crystal blue Tirreno Sea (not to mention they have the best food there!). I feel at home when I’m there. I really do.
How did you become a tour guide with Eating Italy Food Tours?
I had a prestigious accounting job at the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) here in Roma. But I wanted to be able to dedicate my life and all of my free time to my singing career, and I couldn’t accomplish that being in an office from 9 to 5. So I quit FAO. But then I suddenly realized I need a job to pay the rent! I saw the ad for this job with Eating Italy, and I thought what could be better, showing tourists around the best city in the world, eating great food and hanging out (and getting paid doing it!)?
What is the best thing about being a tour guide?
Getting to eat pasta amatriciana every single day! Need I say more?
What is the best stop on the tours?
Giolitti. The atmosphere stirred up by this fun Roman family is as authentic as the gelato that they serve.
If you had only one more meal left to eat in Rome, what would it be?
La trippa alla Romana, also known as tripe served Roman style.
If you were hosting a dinner party, what knock-out dish might you prepare?
Fusilli pasta with fiori di zucca and shrimp. This is a specialty from Aquavella, the town where my grandfather was from.
What is Rome’s best-kept secret?
Tram Tracks! This is where I stop being a tour guide and start singing in my rock band as an old tram takes you for a ride through the Eternal City, while you eat and drink and enjoy the show.
What is Tram Tracks exactly? And how did it start?
Tram Tracks is an evening extravaganza – a party which includes some great Italian appetizers (including real mozzarella di bufala from Paestum), some delicious Italian wines and a fantastic live rock’n roll band (playing English, American and Italian rock) all aboard a historic tram driving through the heart of Roma, passing by the world’s most beautiful monuments. It includes a 15 minute stop in front of the Colosseum (Have you ever danced to a live rock n roll band in front of the Colosseum???). Me and my girlfriend Simona run these weekly shows and we hope you will be joining us soon !
Please check out our tour website for more information and bookings.