I think everyone can agree that food is an important aspect of Italian culture. Ask any local about the food that their country has to offer and they will start explaining to you the varieties of pizza, pasta, meat, fish, risotto, soups, salads – you name it. They will probably explain that each of the many regions of Italy has its own specialties.
But what makes Italian cuisine so incredible? Of course it has much to do with the family recipes that have been passed down for generations… but really, any local will tell you, it’s because of the quality of the ingredients.
With fresh produce being such an important factor in Italian cuisine, it’s no surprise that the many markets around Rome are always buzzing.
Don’t miss these three farmers’ markets in Rome, all just around the corner from John Cabot:
1. Campo de’ Fiori
The market at Campo de’ Fiori is one of the oldest in Rome, dating back to the 1800s. This central square is famous for hosting one of the most prominent fruit and vegetable markets in the city, but it has a dark history. Dating back to the 15th century, the space was primarily focused on trade and commerce, and all of the surrounding streets to this day are named for various trades: Via dei Cappellari (hat makers), Via dei Chiavari (key makers), and Via dei Giubbonari (tailors), to name a few. Urban development brought wealth to the area, and a thriving horse market was held in the piazza twice a week. However, Campo de’ Fiori was not only the setting of markets and trade; it was the square where many public executions took place, including the execution of philosopher Giordano Bruno. He was burned alive in 1600 for heresy, and a statue was erected in his honor that still stands to this day in the middle of the piazza.
Today, Campo de’ Fiori is one of the city’s most flourishing marketplaces, where vendors set up stalls to sell fresh fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, and flowers. Since the market is also a hub for tourists year round, you can also find Roman souvenirs such as packaged pasta, mixes of herbs, and more.
The Market at Campo de’ Fiori is open Monday through Saturday from 7:00am to 2:00pm.
2. Piazza di San Cosimato
The market in Piazza di San Cosimato is smaller and less flashy than the one in Campo, making it feel more “local”. You won’t see too many tourists here, but you will see Italian families grabbing their fresh groceries for the week while their children play on the playground nearby. Many of the sellers are third-generation vendors of fruits, vegetables, fish, or meat.
Walk through the lush stalls covered in bright produce, the sun bouncing off the many colors on the tables. Vibrant red tomatoes, green artichokes, deep purple cabbage. What is important to note, however, is that you won’t be able to find every fruit or vegetable at the market. Instead, the vendors will sell only the best of what is in season, which means that what you buy will be fresh and local.
The Piazza di San Cosimato is one of my favorite parts of Trastevere, and is only a 10 minute walk from both the Tiber and Guarini campuses. Head over to San Cosimato practice your Italian, and buy some of the freshest ingredients to get the real Roman experience before trying out your recipe.
The market in Piazza di San Cosimato is open Monday through Saturday from 7:30am to 2:00pm.
3. Testaccio Market
The market in Testaccio is not like any other in Rome. It is a popular covered market with 100 different stalls selling everything from fresh produce to dried fruits, baked goods, handmade crafts, vegan goods, accessories, and more. This is more than just a farmers’ market–it is more like an authentic commerce center, a perfect example of modern Rome. Testaccio prides itself today as being the original “foodie neighborhood” of Rome, and it will be obvious why after spending just a few minutes in the market. What used to be a district of slaughterhouses and working-class residential buildings has become a hub of trendy restaurants, gourmet shops, and none other than the hip Mercato Testaccio.
Stop by to shop for fresh ingredients, or anything else you might need, while strolling through one of the most interesting residential neighborhoods of the city.
The Testaccio Market is open Monday through Saturday from 7:00am to 3:30pm.
Alexa Vujaklija (Shearer)
Class of 2015
Grew up in the United States, Germany, the Republic of Georgia, Russia, and Bulgaria