The Best in Rome
Rome's OPEN AIR MARKETS
The tradition of the Roman open market goes back to at least the Third Century B.C., when the Marcellum market was located at the north end of the Fori Romani. During the age of Emperor Augustus, when Rome's economy flourished, the military hero Agrippa built the first indoor plaza in the flat land between the Capitoline and Palantine hills. It was a multi-function structure, housing market spaces, shops and offices where merchants engaged in various commercial activities. In the Second Century A.D., Emperor Trajan developed the concept into a bigger more commercial building: I mercati di Traino, which can be seen today in the excavations and museum. Between the late Middle ages and early Renaissance, with the urban development of Rome's Campus Martius (a swampy field dedicated to Mars) and the expansion of the city's growing population, market activity sprung up in the new residential Piazza Navona area. From there, on to Campo d'Fiori, where artisans, ambassadors, religious personalities, and just normal Roman folk gathered to trade goods and services as they still do today. As new neighborhoods developed, so did the markets. By the the 17th and 18th centuries Rome's governments provided places and scheduled times for market activity.
This tradition remains almost unchanged today, despite the supermarkets and ipermarcati that have opened all over town.
You can buy fresh organic produce right at the source, in an urban park where fields of seasonal fruits and vegetables are farmed. Minutes from Rome's center, in the neighborhood of Casaletto adjacent to a natural reserve, Il Trattore is a cooperative employiing at-risk youth to handle the farm chores. Gorgeous lettuces, tomatoes, zucchinis and all the goodness of Lazio, as well as orgaically and responsibly grown " imports such as Colombian bananas. The little shop, just a farm shack, is also stocked with canned and boxed foods such as organic herbal teas, preserves, cookies, cereals even meats and cheeses. It's 30 minutes by car from the center of Rome, and accesible by the 870 bus. You'll feel like you've had a day in the country.
Via del Casaletto 400 tel 06 657 42168 www.iltrattore.it
Open Monday-Friday, 8 am - 5 :30 pm; Saturay, 8 am - 2 pm
San Teodoro - Circo Massimo
A terrific weekly farmer's market, with organic and non-organic products — wines, olive oiis, fruits and vegetables, fresh and cured meats, plants, flowrs, honey and preserves, beans and pastas.
Via San Teodoro 74
Saturday and Sunday, 9 am - 6 pm.
Campo de' Fiori
Perhaps the most famous of Rome's many markets, but far from the largest. In addition to the fresh fruits and vegetables, you'll find cheap scarves, aprons and T-shirts, costume jewelry. Shops in the surrounding piazza sell meats, wines and sundries, making it a complete one-stop shop. Of special interest: the fabulous bakery Il Forno di Campo de' Fiori (Piazza Campo de' Fiori, 22), the fresh fish at Attanasio (via del Biscione, 12 closed Monday), and the historic butcher shop, Antica Norcineria Viola, atmospheric and redolent of the sausages that hang over the counter like a curtain (Piazza Campo de' Fiori, 43).
Piazza Vittorio Emmanuele
This enormous market, perhaps Rome's largest, in recent years has been moved into an indoor space. Clever cooks from all over Rome come here for the range of exotic fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices from Asia and Africa: Indian curries, coriander, turmeric, Chinese cabbages. The adjoining clothing market sells classic Indian saris and salwar-kameez suits.
Rome's vibrant tented market offers a little bit of everything, from fresh fruits and vegetables, to bottled jams and honey, to shoes and underwear, jewelry and housewares. The market spills out to the surrounding streets where merchants set up tables selling a wide and unpredictable variety of goods. Like many of the other traditional markets in Rome, this one is due to be replaced by a modern center. Enjoy it while you can. The new market was scheduled to be opened years ago, but during construction a historic archeological site was found - an old Roman market!
Piazza San Cosimato
The historic Trastevere market at Piazza San Cosimato, one of the oldest in Rome, has been "refurbished" with modern covered stalls, parks and other amenities. But the spirit of the ancient market seems to have vanished. It's very pretty and modern, but there are fewer stalls and fewer customers.
Mercato Piazza dell'Unità
On Prati's busy main shopping street, this covered market dating to 1928, with its Liberty (art nouveau) architecture, is lovely place to buy the daily comestibles. Unlike other food markets in town, it offers underground parking and long hours. In one of Rome's upscale residential neighborhoods.
Open Monday-Saturday 7 am - 8 pm.
Via Cola di Rienzo
Mercato di Piazza Alessandria
In a classic wrought iron structure dating to the early 1900s, this covered Roman market offers fruits, vegetables and other food products as well as plants and flowers. Near the Porto Pia gate, and adjacent to an ex-Peroni beer factory, which has recently been restructured into a a quaint shopping area, housing, among other shops, a branch of the Coin department store.
The streets just off the river on the left (Vatican side) bank of the Ponte Milvio, were once the scene of a winding market choked with Roman shoppers, buying fresh meats and poultry, fruits and vegetables, bedding, footwear, clothing... The traditional market alas, has been replaced with a modern shopping center with a large parking lot. The lower floors still house many of the old stalls.
Mercato Comunale Flaminio
Not many from outside the neighborhood venture into this light-filled covered Roman market, where farmers sell their produce to a price-conscious crowd of loyal customers. There's also an “Angolo dei Sapori,” selling pork products and cheeses. Via Guido Reni - Lungotevere Flaminio
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In Rome Now Travel Guide: Rome Italy Food Markets