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The Street Markets of Rome
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STREET MARKETS OF ROME

You may be wondering why, in this post holiday period, we would be talking about street markets —  gift shopping is finished; in fact most people are glad about that. The thing is that NOTHING in Italy is ever finished; its history goes on and on. So, why not add shopping to the list? Regular readers to our blog will recall that about a year ago we did a piece on “Food Shopping….”, which described the various food shopping venues in Italy, and the cultural impact of this activity on those tourists, visitors, and ex-pat residents among us. In this blog we are going to narrow the topic a bit and focus in on a particular type of market and shopping experience — Roman street markets.

Although recent city ordinances have regulated food street markets in Rome in terms of coverings, and refrigeration, resulting in a drop in the number of such markets, nonetheless many have adjusted to the new requirements and continue to offer their services all over the city. The oldest and largest of the Roman street markets vie for shopper attention in the historical center of the city, however almost all neighborhoods (in Italian, quartieri) have their own versions, big and small, and offer a wide variety of merchandise from food to flowers to jewelry to bric-a-brac, rugs, lamps, antiques etc. Most of them are open on the weekends,  or specific days of the week, but the largest ones are open every morning of the week. The weekend markets offer a pleasant and useful morning out for anyone in Rome. My neighborhood market is open Wednesday mornings — located just off via Grottaossa, in the via Cassia vicinity — not very large but displays everything from meat, vegetables, fruit, all types of clothing, household gadgets, household “whites”, curtains, etc. etc. You can see everybody here, those coming in limos and those coming in Pandas, and those coming on foot.

The ambience of most Roman street markets can be a bit jarring at times, with sales areas all jumbled up, no real clear walkways, and almost constant shouting of prices by vendors. All prices are negotiable so get ready to bargain. Of course shoppers can also be confronted by wandering vendors offering anything from fresh garlic to  scarves to leather goods. The quality of the food products is fantastic, but as with any market of this type, shoppers are on their own to sort out the rest of the items. My personal favorites are the antique books, pictures and prints. Here you can really discover some great finds.

Here are some examples of the better known, larger street markets. When you visit Rome do have a go in at least one of them. I guarantee you will get a feel for the culture, learn a bit of Italian, and maybe even discover a bargain or two!

BORGHETTO FLAMINIO MARKET
This flea market, held on a weekly basis, is a must-visit for anyone in the area surrounding the Piazza del Popolo on a Sunday. The Borghetto Flaminio Market is the place to pick up rare antiques, designer clothing, and the fine cast-offs of Rome’s elite. Spend a wonderful day here rummaging through the superb quality wares to find some real bargains. Rome’s glamorous and fashionable population means that the market is simply a treasure trove of finds. Armani sunglasses, Gucci handbags, and fur coats are just a few of the treats in store from 10am to 7pm every Sunday. Opening hours: Sun 10am-7pm

 

FONTANELLA BORGHESE MARKET

A trip to the Fontanella Borghese Market is an unmissable opportunity for literature and art lovers to peruse ancient etchings and prints as well as bargain books. From 9am to 7pm from Monday through to Saturday, local sellers set up shop with their fascinating collections of items. The market is the perfect place to pick up unique gifts, a far cry from cheaply manufactured tourist items in many other places. Knowledgeable traders will happily regale the history behind your purchases. Antique maps, vintage posters, used cameras, old magazines and newspapers, and exquisite art, are just a few of the treasures to be discovered here at Fontanella Borghese Market. Opening hours: Mon-Sat 9am-7pm

 

CAMPO DE FIORI

Rome’s historic market place, the Campo De Fiori has existed for over 400 years. The site is a must-visit in any Rome travel guide, and this farmers’ market provides a wonderfully authentic taste of Rome. The name translates as ‘field of flowers’, and an incredible range of products are available to buy here, including beautiful flowers, fresh fruit and vegetables, artisan Italian meats and cheese, and local delicacies such as truffles and homemade olive oils. Soak up the wonderfully Italian atmosphere as you rub shoulders with locals haggling for their daily groceries and as amiable traders banter with their neighbors over your head. The market is open daily and best explored in the mornings with the locals.

 

San Cosimato Market

Trastevere is one of Rome’s most fascinating areas, with its cobbled backstreets, tranquil hideaways, and many hidden gems. The San Cosimato Market of Trastevere is the best way to gain a taste of this area’s eclectic, historic and cultural feel. The origins of the market date back to the early 20th century and many of the vendors are the descendants of the market’s very first traders. These family-run stalls exhibit the best food produce that Europe has to offer. Gaze in wonder at the Swiss gruyere, Occitan goat’s cheeses, Alpine fontina, and local ricotta at the cheese seller’s, or venture to try the superb quality steaks, quail and numerous meat cold cuts at the butcher’s. The freshest fish in the city can be found here, along with hand-made pasta.

Opening hours: Mon-Sat 6am-1.30pm

 

LA SOFFITTA SOTTO I PORTICI MARKET

This flea market is a hot-spot with Rome’s young and trendy population, who come to browse the bric-a-brac and vintage wares available from 7am to 7pm on the first and third Sundays of the month. Come and rifle through the second-hand jewelry and clothing here at  La Soffitta sotto i portici Market to grab a real bargain. The items here exhibit some of the best vintage styles in Rome, with silk scarves, crystal beads, antique lace, and everything a true fashion lover’s heart could desire. Located just outside the Mausoleum of Augustus, and mid-way between the Spanish Steps and Piazza del Popolo, the area surrounding this market is one of the most beautiful and historic in Rome. Opening hours: 7am-7pm on the first and third Sundays of the month



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            Celebrate the New Year 2021 in your new home in  Italy!!!!!!!

Hope you enjoyed this month’s Blog “News and Curiosities”. Let us hear from you on any questions or comments you may have.

Written By:       CCI staff
Kathleen Ventre