The Team

Maurizio Di FrancoMaurizio Di Franco is a certified sommelier and a member of the Associazione Italiana Sommelier (AIS). Maurizio was born in the United States to first-generation Italian immigrant parents. He spent most of his life working in their family-run Italian restaurant and started tasting wine almost as soon as he could lift a glass. Slowly, he would evolve into the restaurant’s de facto wine expert, working with the wine makers and representatives of some of the best wine production from around the world. This led to a fascination and love for all things enology.

During his schooling he took many trips back to the old country to learn about his heritage and about the art of winemaking, with extended stops in Florence and his parents’ hometown of Isernia in the Molise region, and culminating in an internship for a small winery located in the rolling hills of southern Tuscany. Here he learned about all aspects of winemaking, everything from harvesting to bottling; an eye-opening experience in hard work, passion and dedication which only increased his appreciation for the craft and led to his settling in Rome and enrollment in the official sommelier program at AIS.

Maurizio is part of a new generation of sommelier, brushing off the dated stereotype of the stuffy, pretentious wine expert, believing instead that (good) wine should be fun and enjoyed by everyone, regardless of budget.

Irene de VetteIrene de Vette was born in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, and now lives in Rome where she is a professional eater slash wine drinker. She writes about food and wine, too. She holds a wine certificate of Stichting Wijnexamens Nederland and is currently zooming in on Italian wines at the professional sommelier course of the Associazione Italiana Sommelier (AIS).

Although Holland is not particularly known for its great cuisine, Irene grew up in a foodie family. As a kid, she couldn’t always appreciate the funny-looking creatures on her plate and found visits to European wine cellars really tedious. But now she sees the value in that upbringing; her ongoing food and wine journeys are just logic progressions.

During a study exchange in Florence a decade ago Irene fell in love with the food and all the ideas surrounding food in Italy. These being: food is best when distinctly regional, local and seasonal. It makes for exciting road trips! Secondly: food tastes a hundred times better in the company of friends or family. Eating alone is sad! Thirdly: a meal without a good glass of wine is no meal. Basta!

After having completed a master’s in language and cultural studies, Irene embarked on an adventure overseas. To become a food writer, she got another master’s degree in Journalism at Boston University, then moved to foodie paradise New York. Her love of food and wine drew her back to Italy, to the Eternal City this time.

Irene conveys her enthusiasm for the dizzying cornucopia of Italian wines and foods through the tastings at vino roma and through her writing. She published cookbooks, magazine articles and a Rome guide book is coming up. You get a little taste for it on her website.

Theo Leimer

Theodor Leimer has been with vino roma from the start.

Theo is a certified sommelier and a member of the Associazione Italiana Sommelier (AIS). No one thought this Bavarian guy would someday live in Italy and be a wine expert, but life took him places.

Theo worked first for the military and later in the private sector as a freelance software consultant. The job took him all over the world and in every country where he lived and worked, Theo found the remotest markets and the most exotic ingredients, in short, the best places to eat. It was only natural for him to become interested in wine - you can’t be a proper foodie without drinking good wine. Meeting Hande (sometime in the last century, somewhere in Germany) was what decided his fate: Their common wine journey continues till today. Because he couldn’t stand Hande telling him what to drink, he became a certified sommelier, too.

At vino roma, he is The Palate: whatever Hande smells, he can taste. His taste buds are indispensable in deciding which wines will make it into the vino roma selection. You won’t meet him at our standard tastings, but he does hold some very special wine tastings, not only about Italian, but also about Austrian and German wines.


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