You could live in Rome for a lifetime and not manage to see everything this city offers. It is a priceless experience to spend four years soaking in all the culture, history, and art – but it can also be tiring trying to take advantage of the breathtaking ancient ruins, monuments, and museums that the city has to offer. While it’s incredible to know you live in the heart of ancient civilization and a modern European hub of culture, sometimes you get “museumed out” and want to explore something a little different.
Even if you’ve ventured through other neighborhoods beyond Trastevere, you might have overlooked the obvious. The Porta Portese market lies in your own backyard. This eccentric flea market is not necessarily a “site,” but an atmosphere… a living, breathing Roman experience, and it is definitely one you do not want to miss.
Located at the very edge of Trastevere, the Porta Portese market is named after the ancient city gate — with the same name — that was built in 1644. It is located on Via Portuense and meets with Via Porta Portese. Until the 19th century, the main river port for the city was located nearby on the banks of the Tiber River, making the area a hub for trade. You could say the neighborhood is still a center for trade and commerce today, thanks to the market.
Porta Portese is open every Sunday, and it goes on for blocks. You can find anything, and I mean anything: from bicycles to old vinyl albums; vintage sunglasses and fur coats; postcards, handbags, jewelry, comic books, and more. Prices are fairly low, and sellers are often willing to haggle, so make sure to stay strong to get a bargain on whatever item has caught your eye.
As in any flea market or thrift store, you might have to dig through some “junk” to find a piece of value, but to me, that is the fun of this type of shopping. Porta Portese has hundreds of stalls, so you can peruse through them all morning if you wish. Even if you have nothing in mind, it is worth going simply for the lively atmosphere! Just one tip: it’s very crowded, so keep an eye on your wallet!
Take a break from Rome’s ruins and museums and indulge in some street haggling at a lively and exciting flea market.
Alexa Vujaklija (Shearer)
Class of 2015
Grew up in the United States, Germany, the Republic of Georgia, Russia, and Bulgaria