What to buy and where – Markets and Artisans
Romans love their local farmers markets
If you’re staying in self-catering accommodation, it’s very nice to do your shopping at the local market in the morning. Ask where the closest ‘Mercato Romano DOC’ is – DOC is short for ‘Denominazione di Origine Controllata’ (literally “Controlled Designation of Origin”). As the the name suggests, this certification ensures that products are locally sourced. Remember that they are generally only open in the mornings and closed on Sundays. The most famous and most beautiful is that of Campo dei Fiori; it no longer has the atmosphere of the black and white films with Sora Lella, but it’s certainly worth paying it a visit. At the Trionfale market (Via la Goletta, 1- near the Vatican Museums) everything is very fresh. This is where to go to buy all the ingredients to prepare a fancy dinner, or if cooking is your passion (it has internal parking and Romans are willing to drive hours by car to get there!). After having toured Trastevere and admired Villa Farnesina, the medieval basilicas of Santa Maria in Trastevere and Santa Cecilia, or having spent a couple of hours at Centrale Montemartini www.centralemontemartini.org you should stop and eat at the Testaccio market (Via Beniamino Franklin). It’s located in what was once the general market district and stays open until 3:30pm. It’s very fashionable to sit among the benches and eat a plate of pasta accompanied by a good local wine, or deliciously guilty fries, pizza, cheeses and cold cuts.
After the guided visit to the Colosseum, after the Roman Forum where you heard the echoes of Cicero’s and Cesari’s speeches, and after climbing the Imperial Palace, I recommend, if it’s a Saturday or a Sunday, to go and eat, as the Romans do, at the Campagna Amica market (via di San Teodoro, 74) at the foot of the Palatine Hill. It’s a market where the farmers of Lazio sell directly. You can make excellent purchases and even sit around the tables to feel like a Roman for a while.
What if you want more than just food?
On Sunday mornings we head to Porta Portese, the historic flea market. It’s a family tradition, handed down from generation to generation. Here you can really find everything, from marble to small antiques, from clothing, new and used, to modern lamps and paintings, engravings, books, vinyl records and cameras, watches, in short, an infinite number of objects that come to life on the stalls, under your gaze. If treasure hunting has always been in your blood, Porta Portese is for you; you will not be disappointed. I’m sure I don’t need to remind you that in a crowded market like this you must be careful with your wallet and valuables.
If you’ve always dreamt of a career as a designer but life has led you to other shores then the market in via Sannio (metro stop A San Giovanni) is for you. It’s open every morning, except on Sundays. Here you’ll find both new clothing (copies of the trendiest brands for young people), shoes, belts, hats, bags, and glasses, and grandmother’s cocktail dresses studded with rhinestones with huge buttons, and there’s always something to have fun! You’re in Rome, so between that evening dress hanging from the ceiling and the magician’s tuxedo, you can also unearth the robes of a cardinal or that of a bishop who’s come from who knows where! You’ll find everything from top hats to camouflage, from ballet shoes to military boots.
Want to avoid stress and confusion?
Love shopping but bothered by the confusion and the crowds? Go to Borghetto Flaminio (Via Flaminia, 32- Metro A stop Flaminio). Open only on Sundays from 10am to 7pm you’ll pay an entrance ticket and your purchases are made without stress. You’ll find small antiques, vintage designer clothes, bags, ties, prints, designs, china… It’s frequented by some well-known people, who’ve passed through here both to sell and to buy, one of them being Diane Keaton when she came to Rome. Not to be missed!
Go to a local artisan and explore the “Made in Italy”
Rome is enduring. A small group of Romans firmly believe in the priceless cultural value of the artisan and creative tradition. There are hundreds of artisan workshops, tailors, millineries, shoemakers, carvers, goldsmiths, boutiques and shops that sell items still made in-house, and therefore unique, ranging in all sectors, from clothing to home furnishings. ‘Made in Italy’ still denotes excellence worldwide, and now that you have the opportunity to choose at the source, take advantage of it. However, it’s not so easy to locate them among the thousands of boutiques and shops in the 20 square kilometers of the historic center. You’ll need a shopping guide to help you find your way, so as not to waste time unnecessarily. We suggest Eleonora Attolico www.grandtourshopping.com, a fashion journalist and woman of great taste, Roman by adoption. She doesn’t take any commission from the shops and will be able to give you good advice, stylishly guiding you to the places that are right for you.