Rome’s Campo de’ Fiori is alive with produce and entertainment:
Campo de’ Fiori market is one the oldest surviving open air markets in Rome’s historic centre. There was a time when neighbourhoods in Rome had their own local open market. Sadly, most of the markets have long since died away and they have been replaced by an explosion of supermarkets like PAM, Coop and Despar. It’s good to see that the picturesque Campo de’ Fiori market is still alive and well. In fact, on this visit we noticed that it had expanded quite substantially.
A reinvigorated market
In the past, the Campo de’ Fiori market was not terribly interesting from a visitor’s point of view, or mine at least. The colourful fresh vegetables, spices and pastas were good for photography, but when you’re staying in hotels, you really don’t need to buy vegetables. Many of the other stalls mostly sold cheap t-shirts and souvenirs, nothing that you would dare buy for your friends or relatives. By 1 pm, the stalls have shut down and were gone from the piazza. You would visit the market once and that was enough. This time round, the Campo de’ Fiori market seemed to have gathered a new momentum. There were more stalls and they offered much more interesting goods.
Food stalls at Campo de’ Fiori
The Hotel Teatro di Pompeo where we stayed was just around the corner from Campo de’ Fiori and so we would walk through the market everyday. The whole piazza was fully covered with rows and rows of stalls.
We did a quick check of the food section first to see what fruit and vegetables were in season. Artichokes (carciofi) were definitely in season and this young guy became quite an attraction as he skillfully peeled the artichokes. I’ve never peeled an artichoke in my life and this guy made it look so easy.
We had a very nice salad the other night and the waiter said that it was puntarelle or Italian chicory. The puntarelle is a Roman speciality and so I was keen to see what the unprepared vegetable looked like. I was pleased to find it, and what’s more, the stall also had a simple recipe for puntarelle salad. But first, I have to find out how to easily convert the heads of chicory into thin curly strips for the salad. Apparently there is a gadget for this, but any tips are welcome.
The spices and stalls with stacks of multicoloured packets of pastas have multiplied in numbers. They all looked similar and probably came from the same factory.
A new stall that I was very pleased to discover was all about truffles. There were bottles of Giuliano truffle oil of all sizes, jars of truffle salsa, truffle mustard, truffle mayonnaise, salts, etc. I first became aware of the Giuliana truffle brand in Lucca. The shop was near our hotel and I couldn’t walk past the truffle chips without buying them. They were delicious and very moreish.
The cheese stall near the Bruno statue was another newcomer to the Campo de’ Fiori market. At the weekend the stall was very busy. The two young guys who ran the stall were fluent in several languages which helped them make sales to the international visitors. They had interesting cheeses from the Piedmont region, those that we don’t get to see back in Australia.
It wasn’t too crowded today and I took the opportunity to have a chat with the sellers. Matteo very kindly let me taste some of the cheeses. He could spot a cheese addict from a mile away. I couldn’t resist buying some to take back to our room for dinner. The gorgonzola was amazing and the Blu di Capra cheese with myrtle, rum and honey was a taste sensation.
It was the most expensive cheese that they had, but well worth the treat. If you like cheese, be sure to visit to this Campo de’ Fiori stall. Matteo says that they are there everyday.
A bit of entertainment
Besides food, there were stalls selling kitchen utensils and gadgets. This guy selling vegetable slicers entertained the crowds with his demonstrations. As you can see from Tony’s video, he is hilarious. We’ve watched the video a few times and he still makes us laugh. His cheap looking plastic slicing gadgets brought vegetable slicing to a new art form. I bought a set of these slicers as he deserved a sale for his brilliant showmanship.
Gift shopping at Campo de’ Fiori
The market now offers better quality tablecloths, scarves and t-shirts and there were people buying. I managed to get three kids’ t-shirts for presents and a couple of scarves as well.
For centuries Campo de’ Fiori was the stage for public executions. Giordano Bruno, the Dominican friar, philosopher, mathematician and astronomer was burnt alive here in 1600. A domineering statue stands in the middle the piazza marking the exact spot of his death. Luckily those days are long gone and the only executions today are market sales.
Hotel Teatro di Pompeo, Hotel Smeraldo, Spanish Suite Campo di’ Fiori and Campo de’ Fiori B&B are some hotels right at the doorsteps of Campo de’ Fiori. For the list of hotels, apartments and B&B see Here.
Map of Campo de’ Fiori