Italia market


icona abbigliamentoicona alimentareEven love can be found among market stalls, it can start between a loaf of bread and a steak and go on for more than fifty years. The main characters of this novel are Bruno and Dina, a butcher since he was a young boy and then well known in the whole market, and the owner of a bread and pasta stall, run with her aunt, since the first day Italia market was opened. 


A walk through the stalls

Bruno and Dina have recently retired, but we keep their story in our hearts and we will keep this page dedicated to them. The market today is a core center of the neighborhood, throughout the years it has renovated by introducing many services, such as a hair salon and a municipality desk for documents and certificates (open on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 8:30 to 1 pm, Tuesday and Thursday from 8:30 to 5 pm). At the box 36, now Damiano and Alfredo carry on Bruno’s butchery and offer many tasty dishes ready to cook.bruno

To tell the market’s story though, we have to go back of over 70 years. The covered market in Via Catania 70, in the university district around Sapienza, is a building started during fascism years, then interrupted by the war and finally resumed and completed in 1950.

“It was October 20, 1950, there was a lot of people, the mayor, a council member, a big crowd. I was 14 years old and I spent the whole day crying – used to say Dina, who is from Tuscany but moved to Rome after her father’s death – I said to myself, I will not make it here, not even for a day, I used to wake up every morning and cry because I was very shy and afraid of people. Then over the years the market has become my second home and my clients my second mothers, they were lovely with me. One would bring me some sweets, another a small gift. Today, despite my age, I cannot stay at home because I miss the people. So I keep on coming to help my daughter Daniela”. “I started to work here in '58, before I used to work at a butcher’s outside – explained Bruno, whose meat stall used to be just a few meters away from his wife’s bakery – My boss had sent me here and I couldn’t believe it because the store was open from 6 am to 9 pm, while here it was just half a day of work. Then I also found my wife here, had children and grandchildren and now I would like to find an help”. The wish has come true with the "butchers" arrival, who already had a good experience on the field and took over Bruno’s activity, renovating it. Here is their Facebook page.

Italia market keeps on being a reference for the whole neighborhood, it is a colored lively place, though a lot of stalls have closed with time. From 220, as they were at the end of the fifties, there are now approximately 80 vendors working at Via Catania 70, with a wide offering. The shops around the market are many: delis, haberdasheries, pet food, an upholsterer. And also flower stalls, fishmongers, households, bulk and bottled wine. In the center of the market, divided by walls built during a refurbishing in the eighties for which many vendors complained, there are greengrocers and fruit vendors.


Some farmers, as Esterina who comes from Palombara with her fruits and vegetables “fresh everyesterina morning” as stated by the beautiful wooden sign at her stall. And Esterina with all her signs indicates clearly which are the vegetables she raises, “courgettes from my garden” , “vegetables not treated”, “natural strawberries from Terracina” ... important instructions for those who want to avoid pesticides and fungicides. But also good advices for those who are looking to save some money: “3 bunches of basil for 2 euros”, “for every 10 euro spent, a bunch of rocket for free”. Lately Esterina has engaged the daughter Martina, who is helping her at the stall.

Since a few years, in the middle of the market, there is a small library. A group of ladies passionate oflibri reading initiated a project to promote reading by free books axchange. Alessandra, Cecilia, Giusy, Lena, Maria, Miriam, Patrizia are some of the volunteers in charge of arranging the library. The rule is easy: you take something if you give something, or you can just borrow a book and return it later. There is also a diary where one can leave a thought.

eleonoraAmong the market’s treats, Eleonora Perpassione deli. Eleonora tells us “after hospitality training institute and working in some restaurants, I came to the conclusion that it was not for me. So, with mum’s help, we started this project, little by little. We were the first ones to think that one could have lunch at the market, nowadays at lunch time our tables are fully booked. We started with an idea, then we adapted to our customers’ requests”. Today Eleonora’s menu is very rich: entries, main courses and deserts, antipasti, eat in or takeway. “Our philosophy is simple: cooking as if we were at home, as simple as that”. The menu changes according to the season and to the market’s offering. “There is a very friendly atmosphere” says Eleonora and reminds us that “eating at the market… yes, you can”.

Alice's wonderland

“I like so much grandparents' hands. Not only the ones of my own grandparents, but of all those gentlemen and ladies who are very, very old, in fact the hands of the elders. Often when I go to the market with Mommy, I get stuck to look at hands while they work. And if they are old hands, I'm even more fascinated.
pinaWhen I went to Catania road market, I was conquered by Mrs. Pina's hands. Who – as a job – slips peas. All day long, from morning till night, she cleans peas. And her hands are a little knotty, a little crooked after slipping all those peas. To prevent them from getting all green, Mrs. Pina wears some thin white gloves, made of plastic, as the ones Mommy uses to wash dishes, just thinner. Despite the gloves, I looked thoroughly at her hands and I have to say one thing: with or without the gloves, you could tell those hands have slipped many, but many peas!”.


Close to Italia's market there are two places I suggest. One is just aside the market, it's called L'altracittà and it's a bookshop, but not only. There are a lot of nice little books, but also a piano, you can find many wood games and accessories that Mummy likes so much and also music even for the youngest ones, including workshops and listenings for "small ears". icone alice
For those a little older, let's say 4 years old or more, there is another good place, especially if you like science and technology. It's called Technotown, a play area inside Villa Torlonia, which has a beautiful green garden. But if the weather is not good or it's cold, you can get into Technotown and look at the stars in the inflatable planetarium, or build your own robot and play with it, or put on some 3D glasses to see how earth was born or what happens when a tsunami comes. Exciting!

Just around the corner

Six blocks east of the market, and six feet under the ground, beats the deep heart of the city: to protect it, the MONUMENTAL CEMETERY OF VERANO, the Père Lachaise cemetery of the Italian capital. With its Parisian "twin", it shares the same putative father (Napoleon, who at the beginning of '800 imposed burials outside of town) and also the prestige of the guests: walking among its gravestones is like walking into the history of a city, and of a nation. Going through the last century as you would leaf through a newspaper, the headlines would be dedicated to politics, with the graves of men and women who have marked the birth and the events of the Italian Republic: from Andreotti to Togliatti, from Nenni to La Malfa, from Almirante to Saragat, from Claretta Petacci to Nilde Iotti. But the story of a country can also be told through the major cases of crime. And at Verano rest the protagonists of some of the most dramatic events which have marked Italy in the last decades: the poor Wilma Montesi, killed in the 50s with the first real scandal of the Republic; the young Alfredino Rampi, who died in 1981 (ten days after the fatal accident of the popular singer-songwriter Rino Gaetano, who was also buried within these walls); the student Marta Russo, shot at university in the 90s. And then, still leafing through, after the news, there are the cultural pages: here the Muses mourn Eduardo De Filippo's death, Fregoli, Ungaretti, Moravia, Giacomo Balla, Gianni Rodari. And those who want to follow a fully feminine path, will stumble into the genius of Grazia Deledda and Maria Montessori, the first Italian Nobel women, or in the strength and grace of Sibilla Aleramo's verses or of Alida Valli's interpretations.
But the heart of Verano vibrates especially in the verses and words of those who have spent their lives telling Rome, spreading out pages that would otherwise have been confined in local chronicles. Big dialect poets (Belli, Pascarella, Trilussa), passionate singers (Gabriella Ferri), directors who have immortalized Rome torn by the war (Rossellini), in search of redemption (De Sica), scarred by corruption (Petri). But above all, faces and voices of famous actors: from Ettore Petrolini to ALBERTO SORDI, from Nino Manfredi to Marcello Mastroianni, from Vittorio Gassman to Aldo Fabrizi. And the words on the grave of the latter are probably the best summary of "Romanity", a mixture of fatalism, cynicism and irony that even in the most dramatic moment can make a last joke "Taken away from this world too al dente" (meaning too early). Last but not least, sport. A few meters away from each other rest
Guido Masetti, goal keeper in the first championship Rome won, and the presidents who took the yellow and red jerseys up to the top two more times, making the crowd crazy for happiness: Dino Viola and Franco Sensi. Not to mention the first captain of Rome’s history, that Attilio Ferraris who wanted to carve on the stone his greatest triumph, having written on his grave simply “World Champion”.
But if we had to choose a quote to say goodbye to this place of peace and meditation, we would probably go back to TRILUSSA’s tomb of the poet and read his delicate epitaph: "There's a bee who stops on a rose sprout / it sucks it and flies away… after all, happiness / is a small thing. "

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where via Catania 70
open Monday – Saturday, h 7:00-14:00 (on Tuesday and Friday until 19)
PARking underground parking to be paid (via Giuseppe De Mattheis), along the road blue slots

from Termini railway station, Line 649, 673 o 310
From Tiburtina railway station, Line

metro Line B, Bologna (walking distance 500mt)