This post was originally published on April 9, 2013 and was updated on October 10, 2016.
Rome’s markets are a food lover’s paradise. Whether you’re on the hunt for the most beautiful and round Roman artichoke or some pecorino cheese straight from the sheep, in Rome you don’t have to look far to find such products at their freshest. Markets can be found in every rioni (or district) of Rome and are called mercati rionali. They are often the social center of the district and have been for ages. Rome locals buy their produce from the descendants of the very vendors their grandparents bought produce from. In the markets, gossip spreads like wildfire. Banter is expected and usually happens in that sarcastic form of Italian known as Romanaccio (or Roman slang). For visitors and tourists to Rome, a trip to a local market can be one of the best Roman experiences. But don’t go just to look! Get in on the action: buy some fresh clementines, ask for a recipe or the name of a strange-looking vegetable, or compliment the vendor on his fruits.
Here’s a list of our all-time favorite markets in Rome:
Campo dei Fiori Market
Head to the market in Campo dei Fiori, held every morning but Sunday, for a slice of local color. Sure, it is the most tourist-visited market on this list—mostly because it’s located in the centro storico—but there are still plenty of locals who frequent its stalls daily. Apart from being the most well known, the Campo dei Fiori Market is also one of the oldest markets in Rome: it has served the city since 1869! Wander through the stalls before heading to lunch to know exactly what seasonal veggies to order.
The market in Testaccio is another classic Roman standby. Though the location has recently moved from the old covered stalls in Piazza Testaccio to a new bright building near to the MACRO Museum, the energetic atmosphere has remained. At the Testaccio Market you can find anything from artesian house furnishings to a horse butcher. Its also a perfect place to pick up some original gifts to take back home. And if your hunger can’t wait to cook up the groceries, stop at the stand serving hot sandwiches made with tripe—a district speciality—or bollito (boiled meat). Che buono! And if you’re lucky, you might just see us there! Read more about the Testaccio Market.
Join our Taste of Testaccio Food Tour and meet our favorite local vendors at the Testaccio Market!
Campagna Amica Market near Circus Maximus
Every Saturday and Sunday from morning until late afternoon, the indoor market off the ancient Circus Maximus sells some of the most locally grown produce in Rome. Great vegetables, olive oils, cheeses, meats, pasta, you name it, they got it! And all of it adheres to the strict Kilometer-Zero Rule, which maintains that the distance travelled, from field to market, is as small as it can be. And if you’re a visitor, there is plenty to buy and bring home as gifts, like those lovely half-liter tins of olive oil from Lazio or jars of creamed artichokes. So head to Via San Teodoro 74, for some super food at the Campagna Amica Market!
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Piazza Vittorio Market
One of the oldest markets of Rome, the Piazza Vittorio Market (or Esquilino Market) attests to the fact that some things about Rome do change. Once located in the center of Piazza Vittorio, the market is now undercover at Via Principe Amedeo, 184. But that’s not the biggest thing to have changed. At one time most of the vendors and buyers were Italian, but now, in reaction to the changing face of Piazza Vittorio itself, the vendors, their products, and the people who buy them come from all over the world. Step into this market and be confronted with strange-shaped vegetables and wonderfully smelling spices. If you’re looking for a break from the tourist-centered vision of Rome, head to Piazza Vittorio on Monday to Saturday, 7 am to 2 pm.
Piazza San Cosimato Market in Trastevere
It wasn’t so many years ago that Piazza San Cosimato got a face lift and acquired its market stalls, changing the market from a temporary set up to a permanent one. The market in Piazza San Cosimato—held on weekday and Saturday mornings—is smaller than many of the other markets listed here. But that doesn’t mean it lacks in choice or quality. Making the daily appearance are a fishmonger, several butchers, and the requisite stands of overflowing fresh fruits and vegetables. Even without the market, Piazza San Cosimato is a great place for some good Trastevere people watching.
Join our Trastevere for Foodies tour and meet our favorite local vendors at Trastevere’s very own market!
Porta Portese Flea Market
Early every Sunday morning the streets around Via Portuense in Trastevere fill with shoppers and sellers of every kind. The Porta Portese Market is Rome’s largest, busiest, and most raucous flea market. Though there is lots of cheap new stuff on sale (mostly made in China), there is also a significant second-hand section of the market. Go there to find anything vintage—sunglasses, clothes, suitcases, furniture—but expect to do some serious searching. The market gets pretty crowded, especially if it’s a beautiful, sunny Sunday, so it’s best to head there bright and early!
Piazza dell’Unità Market in Prati
If you’re doing some shopping on the Cola di Rienzo, why not drop in to this covered market to see what the Romans are eating? The market is housed under a white, arched neoclassical building from the late 1920s. Its friendly vendors hawk their goods until late evening, which makes it extremely popular. Also a bonus for Rome’s local commuters is its underground parking lot.
Have you been to any of these markets in Rome? Do you have a favourite one that we missed? We would love to hear about it. Share it in the comments below!