Who we are
Elifant is top-class archaeology tours with the best food you’ve ever had with a group.
Our groups are small (usually six or eight). Our accommodations range from very comfortable to downright luxurious. Practically everything is included, including airport transfers and plenty of wine. And because we obsess over the details, you can simply relax and enjoy the trip.
Elifant Archaeo-Culinary Tours are exceptional experiences for the exceptional tourist. We promise in-depth, challenging cultural exploration. And tons of delicious fun.
Our company name, Elifant, combines the names of its founders and principals, Elizabeth Bartman and Maureen Fant. We met many years ago in Rome and now work together as a team dedicated to bringing you “archaeo-culinary” tours that are unique. Whether it’s special access to an archaeological site with the excavator or a lesson in cheese-making by a leading producer, Elifant builds on the networks and expertise that we have developed during our professional careers as writers, scholars, and archaeologists. Together we have a passion for Italy that we hope will capture you too during your week with Elifant.
“Liz and Maureen are a great team. As true experts in their respective fields, they added a dimension to the overall experience that would be impossible to match. Plus they both have a great sense of humor and were fun to be around.” –Jack Gardner, Alexandria VA
Liz Bartman is a classical archaeologist whose undergraduate semester in Rome changed her life. Though based in New York, her love is Rome, where she spends many months each year enjoying its art, antiquities, and food. She is an expert in ancient Roman art and archaeology who recently retired as President of the Archaeological Institute of America, North America’s largest organization devoted to archaeology (www.archaeological.org).
Her books include Portraits of Livia (go ahead and ask her what she thinks of Robert Graves’s portrait of the first Roman empress!), Sculptural Copies in Miniature, and the new Ince Blundell Collection of Classical Sculpture. Liz holds a Ph.D. from Columbia University, and her work has been supported by major grants from the Kress Foundation, Metropolitan Museum of Art, National Endowment for the Humanities, and other funding bodies. She has held the Rome Prize at the American Academy in Rome, and is an elected Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in London and a Corresponding Member of the German Archaeological Institute.
Notwithstanding these many scholarly achievements, Liz takes a down-to earth approach and loves the excitement and immediacy of engaging Elifant’s tour participants with monuments on-site. Archaeologists, she believes, are storytellers who make even ruined fragments come alive.
People are always asking Maureen how she came to switch from archaeology to food writing. But it wasn’t a switch, it was an evolution that began with study and excavation in the Mediterranean. Back in her own kitchen in Ann Arbor, Michigan (where she was doing graduate study in classics and classical archaeology), she tried to reconstruct the tastes and memories of Greece, Turkey, and most especially Italy—often pedaling her bike to the farmers’ market instead of to the library. Maureen has lived in Rome full time for many years now. With a keen understanding (acquired the hard way) of what the rest of the world doesn’t grasp about Italian food culture, she excels in explaining it to non-Italians with sympathy and humor. Her most recent food book, Sauces & Shapes: Pasta the Italian Way, won an International Association of Culinary Professionals award and was nominated for a James Beard. Encyclopedia of Pasta, which she translated, won a James Beard Foundation award for research. Her articles on Italian food have appeared in The New York Times, Gourmet, and other periodicals. Her Rome, in Williams-Sonoma’s Foods of the World series, is the ultimate vicarious food tour of the Eternal City. As occasions arise, she also edits, translates, leads tours, consults, and teaches the food of ancient Rome. Her market-based private cooking classes have a devoted following. And she still finds time to work on best-selling classics books, such as the source book Women’s Life in Greece and Rome, whose fourth revised edition was published in 2016. Elifant is a further expression of her firm belief that archaeology, food history, and good food belong together.