Testaccio market


andrea carnecavallo kara

icona alimentareicona abbigliamento

The old covered market of Piazza Testaccio had been waiting for years to be moved to a location assigned by the municipality to a private real estate manager. A move announced for years and postponed several times, including a delay due to the discovery of archeological findings (that by the way could be an antique market). 

Walking through the stalls

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The new market at via Galvani was officially opened on July 2nd. 5000 square meters, of which 2000 dedicated to public services and shops, slots for 103 vendors, an underground of 6000 square meters for a total of 270 parking spaces. Additionally, an archeological area of 7000 square meters which can be partially visited in specific times of the year. Many of the stalls are the same as “before”, but some old sellers, who were already thinking about retirement, actually left. Generally, good old stalls, with some news. Samuele, for example, has added some pottery alongside books and comics (“there wasn’t enough room before”).

8There is almost anything at Testaccio market: fruit and vegetables, fish and meat, cheese and charcuterie, shoes, socks, clothes.
Alessandro and Alessandra with their lab Le mani in pasta (literally, hands in the pie). Hand-made cannelloni, ravioli and gnocchi with bio and kamut flour, bio and local products, but also catering services at your home. "I work as a cook by night – says Alessandro – I wanted to open a place on my own, but with such a crisis it doesn’t seem to be the right time, so for the time being I make pasta and cook at people’s homes”.
The big news at this new location of Testaccio market is possibility to eat at the market: there is the Roman Deli with tripe sandwiches, sausages, scottona beef and boiled meat cooked with picchiapò sauce (tomato, onions and mentuccia leaves); Sergio’s Mordi e Vai. Then there is Zoe, run by the chef Matteo and his sister, offering fresh fruits and vegetables: fruit salads, salads, fresh squeezed juice and extracts, just made to preserve all the vitamins and other properties. 12
With the help of a nutritionist, they have planned a menu of 15 dishes, some permanent, some changing, made with the ingredients they find at the stalls around, except for the bio lemons and oranges coming from Sicily and also the apples (bio) from a farm in Lazio. Next to Zoe, Marco’s Foodbox, who works with his sister and two friends, from the brand we assume that also the (food) container is important. “We want street food to be global, not only regional specials, so in addition to the Roman line Supplizio by the chef Arcangelo Dandini (which includes the Jewish artichoke), we offer street food typical of other Italian locations, such as Sicilian supplì (fried rice balls) and croquettes, stuffed olives from Ascoli, but also French quiches, American bagels, Venezuelan arepas”.  

Among the latest arrivals at the market, there is Adelaide, artist and craftswoman, with her prints on fabrics (table clothes, curtains, pillows) and many objects, such as lamps, vases, trays, plates and also custom drawings, including beautiful ex libris.

In addition to Italian cuisine, there are a few places to try other gastronomic proposals, such as Spiros bistrot stall, with Greek dishes and drinks or a mix between two far cuisines such as sushi and tacos meeting at Santa Clarita tacos and sushi, but if you still feel like eating Mediterranean cuisine, you can always choose pizza… what a pizza! After working for 25 years in the business and architecture world, Paola and Andrea decided to make a change: they cook pizza mixing bio and whole wheat flours, their dough is light and rises 72 hours. At Casamanco the must is cooking as at home, and actually the whole family works there, including the sons Riccardo and Rio and the daughter Isotta.

Once a month the market keeps open until midnight, it's called Open Day: music, dance (the central bar turns into a milonga), the stalls become spots for an aperitivo or a dinner and it ends up with a deejay set. Don't miss it!

Alice’s wonderland

7“One day, me and Mummy met a very nice lady on the bus, she was carrying heavy bags full of veggies. She was talking in a funny way (with a sort of rolling "r") and she told us that she always comes to Testaccio market, even if she lives in town and has to take the bus all the way there and carry those heavy bags, because she can’t find such good vegetables down town… this is one of the few markets with real farmers. And then she looked at me and said “healthy food is good for children” while I was staring at her bags and feeling like the rabbit on my room wall… I was craving so much for a little carrot!”.

ALICE'S ADVICEicone alice

Underneath Testaccio market there is a secret place, which is beautiful. Unfortunately it’s not always open, but you really have to go.

Actually there is another place above the market, where many interesting things happen. What happens under and above Testaccio market is called Sottosopra (literally, upside down). Everything started because, while doing some works to open the new market, they found some very old stuff, very much appreciated by archaeologists. Apparently these finds come from many many years ago, between I and III century AD, when Romans were called Latins and they actually spoke Latin!

sottosopra aliceSo, when you start the visit those nice archaeologists explain about what they have found, how and how they managed to take out those ancient things without breaking them, then they make you play some games and teach you plenty of things. Then, they take you down stairs to see the horreum, a Latin name for warehouse. When you are down there it seems to be back in ancient times: the atmosphere is incredible, there are so many amphora used instead of bricks to build little walls. The archaeologists are specialized in children, but they also organize visits for adults, even in English for those who don’t speak Italian. You can find their schedule on the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/sottosopra.testaccio/ or send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to book for a visit (groups are from 5 to 20 people).


Just around the corner


Walking out of the new market, it’s impossible not to see one of the most popular and peculiar monuments of ancient Rome: CESTIO’S PYRAMID, evidence of Romans’ passion for the pharaohs’ culture, together with the obelisks. Now it appears to be leaning on the Aurelian Walls, but it was built two and a half centuries before. As an inscription on the eastern side recalls, the burial monument was built in 330 days: actually, if Caio Cestios’ heirs delayed the pyramid construction of even one day, they would have lost the whole inheritance, as such a constraint was clearly stated in his Will.
However, in Medieval times, such inscription must have been unreadable due to deterioration, as even a poet and latinist as Francesco Petrarca mentioned the pyramid as ‘Remo’s grave’.

tombeFollowing the walls, along the street named after Caio Cestio, you can reach one of city’s most evocative corners, a must for romantic travellers: the NON CATHOLIC CEMETERY of Rome, also known as the English, or Protestant, cemetery. Under the peaceful shadow of ancient cypresses the remains of the English poets Keats and Shelley have found rest, but also the ones of several Italian artists and intellectuals, such as Antonio Gramsci, Carlo Emilio Gadda, Bruno Pontecorvo, Miriam Mafai, Antonio Labriola and Amelia Rosselli. Here rest in peace the beat poet Gregory Corso, Kerouac’s and Ginsberg’s good friend, and the English actress Belinda Lee, adopted by Italy after the movie “I magliari” by Francesco Rosi, who died in a car accident when she was only 25 years old. The same age as her fellow countryman Langton, who died falling from his horse in 1738: his burial is the oldest of the cemetery . August von Goethe was 41, when death arrived suddenly during a trip to Rome. Apparently he was not old enough yet to have an own identity, separate from his famous father: his name is not even mentioned on the gravestone, where the inscription simply says “Goethe filius”. Then, someone even built his own grave, such as the American William Wetmore Story, author of the “Piety’s Angel” who keeps watching over his and his wife’s remains.

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After these moments of peace, going back to the life of Testaccio neighbourhood, you should take a look at the homonym square, once hosting the historical market which recently moved away. It’s impossible to describe it now or even to imagine how it will look like once the move is completed and fully accepted by the locals and the spare space left by the stalls has found a new identity. However, those who want to know how it looked before the market was built, should keep on walking up to Tevere river, towards piazza dell'Emporio. You will find there AMPHORAS FOUNTAIN, once located in the center of Testaccio square, before the new born market, in 1935, evicted it. The masterpiece, reproducing the undisputed symbol of the borough (see Monte Testaccio link), could be a good start for an unusual tour in Rome. The Amphoras one is the first of 8 fountains by the architect Pietro Lombardi in as many boroughs, starting from 1927: in each one he reproduces the symbol in travertine.


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