When in Rome, do as the Romans do: shop like a local at one of the great food markets. Just as important as visiting the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, Piazza Navona and the Vatican, learn about Italian cuisine and there’s no better place to start than at the source of all great Italian cuisine, the ingredients . Grab an empty tote bag and your appetite and andiamo at any or all of the food markets listed below.
1. Mercato Campo De’ Fiori
Ideally located near many important tourist sites such as Piazza Navona and the Pantheon, Mercato Campo de’ Fiori is a popular market for locals and tourists. It is Rome’s oldest open-air market, dating back to 1869, and began as a place where women who owned or worked on farms would come to town by train to sell their freshly grown produce and herbs. Every day you will still see some of these women, mostly in the central part of the market, busy cleaning and trimming their wares before displaying them. Another colorful piece of market history is that it inspired a 1943 Italian film of the same name, Field of Fiori/The peddler and the lady, and starred a young Anna Magnani. The comic plot is about a fruit seller who falls in love with a fishmonger.
Initially selling only fruits and vegetables, over the decades it began to expand and sell other food items such as cheeses, meats and flowers.
Walking through the compact market there is a maze of white canvas umbrellas and below is where the merchants sell their wares. Apart from the fabulous food, it is also part of the flea market with vendors selling household items and leather goods such as handbags, belts and wallets.
There are several other food outlets behind and to the sides of the market with cheeses, pastas and meats.
The Mercato Campo de’ Fiori is open Monday to Saturday from 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and is closed on Sundays.
2. Nuovo Mercato Esquilino
What differentiates the New Mercato Esquilino other markets in Rome is that it is an international food market. Organized by category, Nuovo Mercato Esquilino is over 100 years old and is located in a multi-ethnic neighborhood, close to Rome’s main train station, Termini. The diverse and colorful market offers foods and specialties from China, Romania, Senegal, Morocco and many other countries.
Nuovo Mercato Esquilino is open from 5:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday and is closed on Sundays.
3. Mercato Testaccio
Mercato Testaccio is as much a food market as a tasting market. Wander the aisles of the covered market and savor the best street food in Rome with dishes such as supplya delicious fried rice croquette (similar to Sicilian arancini); carciofi alla giudiaan old dish of fried artichokes; trapizzino, which has a pizza-like crust that is stuffed with various toppings such as baked eggplant and cheese, chicken in tomato sauce, meatballs, and a vegetarian/vegan version with parsley pesto; the porchetta, a sandwich stuffed with pork, garlic, fennel and rosemary; and pinaa particular type of oval-shaped pizza.
You can hop from one stall to another and enjoy treats such as potato croquettes at Food Box (Stall 66), fresh pasta at Mani in Pasta (Stall 58), pizzas made with the most cooler at CasaManco (Stall 22), and paninis stuffed with oxtail, tripe, meatballs and cheese as well as piadina, sandwiches made from flatbread with various fillings. For a greener option, try Zoé (Stall 59), which offers freshly prepared salads and other Italian specialties.
There is seating in the dining areas to have your takeout food around the market. Mercato Testaccio also has stalls selling clothes, fashion accessories and shoes.
The market is open Monday to Saturday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and closed on Sunday. As the market is open very early, you can go there for breakfast and have pastries and a cup of espresso or a macchiato.
Pro tip: The market gets very busy at lunchtime with locals, especially on Saturdays, so it’s best to get there before noon to avoid crowds and queues.
4. Mercato Centrale
If you are arriving or departing from Rome by train at Termini station, allow extra time to visit Mercato Centrale. Opened in 2014, the sprawling and glittering covered market on the station’s lower level offers premium artisan food stalls.
Some of the most popular stalls include Fausto Savigni, a high-quality butcher offering various cuts of meat and charcuterie from their beef farm in Pavana in the Italian countryside; Pier Daniele, which offers a unique type of pizza, a combination of Neapolitan and Roman style, served with unusual toppings; the Luciano Savini shop, selling coveted truffles from Montanelli, a village famous for truffles; Beppo Giovale, specializing in Italian goat, sheep and cow cheeses from the mountains of Piedmont; and Egidio Michelis, which has been around since 1919 and makes fresh pasta with free-range eggs, Piedmontese beef, fresh vegetables and cheeses. For vegans and vegetarians, Marcella Bianchi prepares hearty and healthy dishes such as sandwiches with bread from a Florentine bakery, vegan cheeses, salads and vegan burgers, and has a juice bar. The Ercoli family has been selling high quality wines since 1928 and their stand here offers organic and biodynamic red, white, sparkling and rosé wines by the glass.
In recent years, Rome has adopted an ethnic cuisine, which was difficult to find here before. If you’re craving American cuisine, there’s the Enrico Lagorio shop, which serves up burgers with premium organic meat from prized Tuscan cows, plus grilled onions, vegetables and potatoes. They also offer a hot dog made with Tuscan pork. Asian cuisine is also included in the mix, and you can have sushi with all-Italian ingredients at Donato Scarti and ramen noodles, authentic gyoza and onigiri at the Akiro Yoshida stand.
Don’t forget to satisfy your sweet tooth with pastries from the De Bellis brothers and ice cream from Günther Rohregger, with the finest ingredients, including 100% Domori origin cocoa, lemons from the Amalfi Coast, Indonesian cinnamon and vanilla from Madagascar.
For serious foodies, Mercato Centrale has a two-star Michelin restaurant, La tavola, il vino e la dispensa, where chef Oliver Glowig takes the best of regional Italian cuisine and elevates traditional dishes to a modern new level.
The Mercato Centrale is open every day, 365 days a year, from 8:00 a.m. to midnight.
5. Mercato Trionfale
Renting an apartment or Airbnb is a great idea if you want an authentic, local experience in Rome. One of the benefits of renting an apartment is having a kitchen where you can prepare meals with ingredients from local markets. Mercato Trionfale, near the Vatican, is the biggest food market in Rome and one of the biggest in Europe, with 273 stalls selling fruit, vegetables, seafood, meat and pasta, but it doesn’t there are no takeaways. Browse the aisles filled with fragrant fruits and vegetables and freshly caught seafood, and don’t be overwhelmed by the sheer size of the market. The sections are categorized by color – green for fruits and vegetables, red for meat and blue for seafood.
There is a section of the market that sells non-food items such as clothes, shoes, leather goods and accessories, hats, toys, and Christmas decorations during the holidays.
Mercato Trionfale highlights include the unmissable La Mani Pasta (Stall 229), run by Anna Maria Moretti with homemade lasagna, fettuccine and gnocchi, and da Peppino (Stall 192), a third-generation family business that sells eggs and organic products, honey, jellies and jams since 1924.
The Mercato Trionfale is open Monday to Saturday from 8:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and is closed on Sundays.
Eataly is an international grocery chain that offers thousands of the finest Italian food products and has locations around the world in major cities including New York, Paris, Las Vegas, Boston, Seoul, Dubai, Tokyo and Chicago. The first Eataly opened in Turin in 2007, later opening branches throughout Italy and around the world. The massive complex is four stories covering over 170,000 square feet. The ground floor offers a selection of separate food stalls with pastas, cheeses, produce and vegetables, meats and packaged foods mixed with a bakery, coffees, chocolates and pastries and sandwiches.
On the second floor, there’s a pizzeria, pasta and seafood restaurant, and wine and craft beer stations. The third floor also offers a selection of formal restaurants with classic Italian cuisine and the Bosco Umbro restaurant, run by prestigious Italian chef Paolo Trippini. Eataly offers cooking classes in their fourth-floor kitchens with renowned Italian chefs. Classes include pasta and pizza making, chocolate, pastry and dessert making, as well as cooking classes for kids and wine tastings.
There are two Eataly locations in Rome, the larger one is in the Testaccio district, near Ostiense station, and the second, smaller one is in Termini station.
Eataly is open from 9 a.m. to midnight, seven days a week.
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