7 Things I Learned By Taking A Walk Through A Roman Market.

By Posted in - Italy & Rome & Travel Blog on July 8th, 2013 Randy Kalp in Rome on a food tour with Walks of Italy.

Campo de’ Fiori is certainly not the only market in Rome. In fact, they can be found in nearly every district of the city, often acting as social centers for the neighborhoods. However, it was the ideal place to start our Rome food tour with Walks of Italy.

Our Walks of Italy Rome Food Tour Guide.

Simona, our fabulous foodie tour guide!

We met in the piazza under the watchful gaze of philosopher Giordano Bruno. The hooded statue is the centerpiece of the campo. Four centuries earlier, Bruno burned at the stake on this spot for suggesting the earth moved around the sun. But he wasn’t alone. In those days, the campo was a popular place for public executions and murder. Now, it has the distinction of being Rome’s oldest market, serving the city since 1869.

By 9:30 a.m. the market was running strong. The rain that had cleansed the city earlier had given way to a spotty autumn sun. Campo de’ Fiori was our first stop on our Rome food tour, and it proved to be a great introduction into Rome’s Slow Food scene.

The campo’s morning market is an animated affair. The colorful market packs a lot of fresh, Italian goodness into the rectangular piazza, which is ringed by trattorias, bars and traditional specialty shops, like Forno Campo de’ Fiori and Antica Norcineria Viola. These shops as well as the market itself are institutions of the highest order, giving each new generation an understanding of their past, present and future all in one taste.

  

 

1. Most sellers at the market act as middle man between the farmers and the public. Each morning, they will go to a larger market and buy direct from the farmers before beginning their day at Campo de’ Fiori. You can spot the sellers from the farmers, because the latter will have less variety of produce at their stalls. Sellers will usually have a variety of produce from several farms, while farmers will only have what they grow.

  

  
Beth said: When I asked if I could take this seller’s photo he requested payment… in the form of a kiss. Of course I obliged!

2. In Italy, pumpkins are used not so much as a sweet, but more as a savory food. They are often featured in pastas and soups.

3. Grapes that you eat are not the same as the ones used for wine. 

4. Romans use one to two bottles of olive oil a month. It can stay fresh for a few months. The key is to store the oil in a dark place and make sure it is sealed up tight.

Our guide, Simona, floated effortlessly around the market in her black dress and rain boots, explaining the dynamics of the market and its importance to Romans as I did my best to capture her tips. This is Simona’s local spot. She’s well versed in the scene and doesn’t waste any time getting us familiar with Italy’s famous food culture. Along the way we tasted olive oil and balsamic vinegar, learning about production methods and tasting tips, before moving on to spreads of pesto and truffle, to name a few of the dozen or so we sampled.

5. Bread is one of the oldest foods that ever found. There is a piece of bread at the Vatican that is approximately 7,000 years old.

After our tasting session in the market, we started the second part of the Rome food tour, exploring Rome’s best food spots. The first stop was Forno Campo de’ Fiori, which is the oldest bakery in Rome. We watched with our noses as the bread maker prepared Pizza Bread, white pizza with olive oil and salt that makes a delicious snack.

  

The next 40 minutes were a blur of bread, cheese, cured meat and wine as we bounced to local favorites, Salsamenteria Ruccieri and Antica Norcineria Viola both located in Campo de’ Fiori.
By the time we left Antica Norcineria Viola, I was full. Unfortunately for my stomach, we were just getting started.

 

 

     

All the spreads, prosciutto crudo, parmigiano, pecorino, mozzarella di bufala and table wine, led us into the main course of the tour — pizza making, gelato tasting and espresso sipping.

What transpired next was a cacophony of decadence. Looking back, this whole portion of our Rome food tour is wrapped in the ether of an eater’s high, fueled heavily by wood-fired carbs, sugar and caffeine. Even to this day, it’s hard for me to look at these photos on a full stomach. However, if I had to do it all over again, I gladly would. Simona’s passion for Rome’s culinary scene was intoxicating, and by the end, my knowledge of Italian cuisine had grown considerably in just a few hours time.

 

6. Food cannot be modified (sorry Monsanto) in Italy. Even if items are not organically certified, the produce is not treated or modified like it would be in the U.S. For example, the apples aren’t shiny clones of one another, because the farmers aren’t allowed to put wax on them.

7. Shop around for the best stuff at the market. For example, one place may prepare their minestrone mix better, while another has better vegetables. Like, so many things in life, you develop a taste for your favorite Roman grocers.

Know Before You Go – Facts, Tips and Information

Campo de’ Fiori

  • The campo used to be a meadow, hence its name, which translates in English to “Field of Flowers.”
  • Cardnials and nobles used the rough and lively area of the campo to mingle with foreigners and fishmongers.
  • In the 15th century, Pope Alexander VI’s mistress owned many of the inns that surrounded the piazza.
  • After losing a tennis match in the piazza, Caravaggio murdered his opponent.

Rome Food Tour Tips

  • Be prepared to eat!During the 3 1/2 hour tour you will indulge in some of the best Rome has to offer.
  • Bring a notebook to jot dot down names and address of places you visited so you can return. Or, better yet, use Four Square to check-in and save your location in the app.
  • Ask questions! Curious about tipping? You’ve got the ear of a local expert now is your chance to ask away.

  • Walks of Italy

  • The Rome Food Tour costs 59 euro/pp for a group tour.
  • It includes a meals’ worth of tastings, and Walks of Italy encourages participants not to have big breakfast before the tour begins.
  • The tour begins at 9:30 a.m. and is limited to 12 people max.
  • You can find all of the details about the food tour here.
  • Simona has a collection of fun cooking videos on the Walks of Italy YouTube channel, which I highly recommend checking out.
  • Have you ever learned anything by taking a walk through a food market?

    *Disclaimer: While we were hosted by Walks of Italy on the tour, our thoughts and opinions are entirely our own.

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    (15) awesome folk have had something to say...

    • Danni -

      July 8, 2013 at 12:09 pm

      Oh my goodness! Your photographs are absolutely incredible. They really tell the story of your day at the market and then sampling all the food. Really really stunning. I can’t even imagine the fantastic day you must have had, but you did a great job describing it to me!

      • Bethany Salvon -

        July 17, 2013 at 5:44 am

        Thanks Danni! Italian markets are perfect for picture taking. 🙂

    • Naomi -

      July 9, 2013 at 6:47 am

      Some gorgeous photos and some great tips particularly the first one!

      • Bethany Salvon -

        July 17, 2013 at 5:47 am

        Thank you so much Naomi! I’m happy you liked the photos and the tips – we’re trying to incorporate more tips into our stories to help people when they travel. 🙂

    • Andi of My Beautiful Adventures -

      July 9, 2013 at 11:49 am

      I loved this post!!!! I am obsessed with olive oil. I probably consume 1 bottle a month too. GORGEOUS pics!

      • Bethany Salvon -

        July 17, 2013 at 5:48 am

        Thanks Andi! Yeah the Olive Oil thing is tough – I love it too but I have to cut down. Agh!

    • Jade h -

      July 9, 2013 at 3:11 pm

      Wow, these pictures are really stunning. My mouth is watering. Having grown up in the south of france a lot of tips hit home, but I didn’t know about the modification rules. 🙂

      • Bethany Salvon -

        July 17, 2013 at 5:49 am

        Hi Jade,

        Wow. Consider me jealous – the South of France is beautiful! You are so lucky. Glad you like the photos too! Out of curiosity – do they allow food modification in France?

    • Corinne -

      July 10, 2013 at 12:01 am

      Excellent post. Loved the facts! I was wondering what “campo” meant. You see it so many places. Also, you always have such gorgeous photos. Next time I’m in Rome, I’m sooooo doing this!

      • Bethany Salvon -

        July 17, 2013 at 5:51 am

        Thanks Corinne for stopping by and leaving a comment! We’re so happy you like the fun facts too – it’s something new that we just started adding to the blog and we’re glad to hear you love it. We’ll definitely be posting more facts from now on to help our readers travel better. And yes, I definitely recommend this tour, it was really fun! 🙂

    • Linda -

      July 10, 2013 at 8:34 am

      Amazing photographs. If I get to Rome again I would love to do this. After taking a cooking course in Tuscany a few years back, I finally found squash blossoms in my area last week and stuffed them. What a great treat! Regarding the wood fired oven, I had one built after a previous trip to Italy. You simply cannot compare a pizza cooked in this oven with anything else. Thanks for your post!

      • Bethany Salvon -

        July 17, 2013 at 5:56 am

        Oh Linda, that sounds amazing! My nonna used to cook them all the time but I have never made one. I don’t even know how – I need to get a recipe for them!

        I can’t believe you had a wood fired oven created – my sister would die if she knew that and also try to become your new best friend! We completely agree that wood fired is the best, we’ve been grilling our pizza at home (not the same but very tasty!). I also learned on this trip that is why most of the pizza in Venice is pretty crappy – due to the fire laws they are not allowed to have wood fired ovens anymore. There is only one pizza place in Venice that has them – Rosso Pomodoro – their oven was grandfathered in. I ate there and it was definitely the best in Venice. 🙂

    • Nate -

      July 11, 2013 at 5:42 am

      Ahhh… authentic Italian PIzza. Worth travelling to Italy just for that.

    • Audrey – That Backpacker -

      July 15, 2013 at 7:14 pm

      Mmm, I think I would really enjoy all the deli meats! 😉

    • Polly -

      July 18, 2013 at 1:01 pm

      This is such a great insight into Rome’s food scene (and amazing photos and storytelling from you guys, as always!). When i visited Rome back in March, I hit the Campo de’Fiori at the wrong time and saw it when most stallholders were packing away. Would love to go back and see it in full swing, as you did.