March 30, 2017

“Times change, but Italy still kicks up a culinary storm ...”

writes journalist Judith Harris of i-Italy magazine and quotes Elifant to prove it:

Culinary expert Maureen B. Fant, an American who lives in Rome, together with archaeologist Elizabeth Bartman, conducts throughout Italy what they call “Elifant Archaeo-Culinary Tours.” They are dedicated, says Fant, “to the kind of travel we like to do ourselves: visits to ancient remains punctuated by great meals and other food adventures.” Archaeology wedded to cuisine: what could be more delightful?
I asked Fant what, in her travels, she is finding that is new on the Italian culinary scene. “A certain amount of blending Asian concepts with Italian tradition is one trend,” she said, “like the tunnied veal bundles I was served in a miso broth, in a Michelin-starred restaurant.”
More in general, she is also is noticing a “loosening of meal structures, partly due to modern life, partly to international travel by young Italians and tourists demanding food at all hours. Also, people just want to eat less, or less traditionally.” 
Another trend is street food, she reports, like the stall near the Testaccio market in Rome called Strit Fud. It is not strictly speaking street food, she says — “Rome has never had that save for squares of pizza and ice cream” — but traditional snacks, like an omelette (frittata) with pasta. 

February 22, 2015

Lemons & anchovies (yum)

Heres what Jean Pope writes on her fabulous site:

I was also recently introduced to a new type of tour in Rome and Naples that food-minded and archaeology enthusiasts like me might appreciate.  Elifant Archaeo-Culinary Tours hosts guided tours in Rome and Naples (they’re adding more locations for 2016).  A mutual friend led to an email introduction to one of the owners of the company, Elizabeth Bartman, an expert in Ancient Roman art and archaeology.  Elifant offers small-group trips centered around ancient art, history and food.  This is EXACTLY the kind of tour I would love to participate in, especially given my fascination with ancient grains/food.  A return to Rome is on the agenda and when it happens, this tour will be on the itinerary.

February 15, 2015

On Bruce Shaw’s Facebook page

Today we had a shout-out from Bruce Shaw, president and publisher of The Harvard Common Press. He says:

On the top of my to do list, Maureen Fant's Elifant Archaeo-Culinary Tours, combines fantastic archeology with the best food in Italy. How good could it get?

December 10, 2014

A boost from Brancatelli

Joe Brancatelli, whose business-travel newsletter we just love, twisted our arm (not) to give a reward to his subscribers. Here’s some of what he wrote to them:

I first met Maureen Fant, one of the Elifant Tours principals, several years ago when she escorted a small party on a day trip of one of Rome's great neighborhoods. But I'd “known”" Maureen long before that based on her terrific writing about Rome's culinary and cultural scene. In fact, it occurs to me that many of the Rome restaurants I recommend to you were places I first read about in Maureen's dispatches.
 In other words, I know Maureen, I trust Maureen, I've paid Maureen to shepherd us around Rome—and I think she and her partner, Elizabeth Bartman, have put together a top-quality itinerary for a special Rome visit next year.
As you can see by the Elifant website, the tour next year is a wonderful combination of archeological discovery, delightful dining, museum visits and close-up and personal experiences with two experts. The focus is on exclusive, small-group, top-drawer experiences. Your base of operation will be an exquisite five-star hotel in the heart of Rome that you can't get with frequent-guest program points. You'll be met at Rome/Fiumicino airport (or train station) by a private car to whisk you to the hotel. And Maureen and Liz have put together a wonderful series of site visits, private tours, food and wine tastings and extras both in Rome and its key surrounding areas such as Ostia and the Pontina. ... 
Considering the exclusive nature of the trip, quality of the accommodations and dining and Maureen and Liz's expertise, I think the price is extremely reasonable. And I don't believe it can be duplicated by any more commercially oriented tour company or guide.

November 16, 2014

Elifant featured in Forbes article

Forbes blogger Nancy Gagliardi, who specializes in food, culture, and commerce, addresses culinary tours this week, and first on the list is the new flavor represented by Elifant: 

The eating experience rises to an entirely new level when you’re touring with a local (food expert) and an archaeologist (who is well versed in and has access to Rome’s famed ruins). Elifant Archaeo-Culinary Tours bring travellers through Rome’s off-the-eaten track sites, such as seldom seen ruins of Portus, an ancient seaport constructed by Roman emperors to advance the city’s sea commerce, or an 1890s slaughterhouse. Pair this with curated meals that focus on food provenance (for instance, a tour through the Roman Ghetto ends with a meal centered around the Jewish influence on Roman food). Tours currently explore Italy (Rome and Naples are scheduled for 2015) and generally run for 8 days.

October 10, 2014

Food & Wine Online recommends Elifant Tours

We‘re hardly out of the gate and we‘ve already been noticed. Check out this nice piece by M. Elizabeth Sheldon.

Elifant Tours press release

Rome, September 18, 2014


Elizabeth Bartman, former president of the Archaeological Institute of America, and Maureen Fant, an award-winning food writer, have teamed up to launch a new concept in high-end cultural travel in the Mediterranean—the archaeo-culinary tour.  

Elifant Archaeo-Culinary Tours are unique, small-group trips for sophisticated travelers who delight in learning about the ancient world while indulging in the culinary present.

An archaeo-culinary tour uses food and the material remains of the past to provide participants with a unique “taste of the world.” Through fabulous meals and visits with chefs and niche producers, the group learns about contemporary and traditional local food, while the ancient ruins provide a historical backdrop to how this food culture evolved. Calling on their personal connections in the worlds of archaeology and food, Liz and Maureen provide access to special people and places with all the convivial pleasures of small-group travel. Every meal is an event, with menus carefully planned to highlight local specialties. 

Unusually for a cultural tour, Elifant’s tour leaders are the experts themselves, available throughout the trip not only for on-site lectures but also for unscheduled after-hours gelato.  The first tours planned will take place in Italy, but Elifant’s medium-term ambitions extend to other parts of the Mediterranean. A Taste of Ancient Rome is scheduled for April 13–20, 2015. The second tour, Paestum to Parthenope: Bay of Naples and Beyond, is planned for October 5–12, 2015. Tours are organized to minimize hotel changes. Out-of-town day-trips are by private bus, usually with an additional local guide. Hotels are when possible five-star, and restaurants may range from rustic trattoria to cutting-edge elegant. 

Liz Bartman, known especially for her research on Roman art, lives in New York and Rome, where she loves to shop in her local markets and cook—often using recipes written or translated by Maureen Fant. Maureen maintains ties to her native New York, but for decades has lived full time in Rome, which she first came to know as a student of classical archaeology. Renowned for her cooking and hospitality, she has become an expert in explaining the food culture of Italy to everyone else. Together they offer participants an unforgettable experience. 

For more information, visit or contact Liz Bartman or Maureen Fant at:  or voicemail (anywhere, any time): +1-347-868-6345.