Whatever they might say about the boundless joys of pasta and ice cream, most Brits living in Italy have a guilty secret lurking at the back of their food cupboards: a packet of oatcakes, perhaps, or a pot of Marmite. Often, these are gifts brought over by visiting aunts genuinely concerned about the lack of suet or cornflakes in the local diet. With a bit of searching, though, one can find such tastes of home tucked away in specialist shops.

In Rome the big mecca is Castroni, an international delicatessen just north of the Vatican where you can find all the old favourites - Fortnum & Mason marmalade, Bird's Eye custard, Branston pickle, Woodpecker cider, and much more. A 100g packet of Twining's Earl Grey tea costs 6500 lire (about pounds 2.50), a pot of marmalade about the same, while Marmite is a real delicacy at L9800 for 250g.

When you tire of Italian barmen plopping tea bags into lukewarm water, head for Traste, a delightful cafe and tea shop on Via della Lungaretta in Trastevere. English cheese is harder to track down, although a small delicatessen on Via della Croce, near the Spanish steps, will sell you farmhouse Cheddar for an arm and a leg. Better to head for Il Bacaro, a delightful restaurant in Piazza degli Spagnoli near Piazza Navona, where the original pasta dishes include one made with Brussels sprouts and blue Stilton.

Andrew Gumbel