Campo Marzio market


icona-alimentareBehind Tomacelli road, at the end of Monte d'Oro road, there is a small market, which – as many others – used to be more important in the past (about 30 stalls) and has lost several merchants throughout the years. As of today, the covered market Campo Marzio has three stalls of fruits and vegetables, one of fish, a stand of flowers as well as a bar and a pizza restaurant.

A walk through the stalls

"My father in law had the stall in the Sixties and the activity remained within the family with my son Domenico – tells us Giovanni, historical face – The market used to be on two floors, then in the mid-Seventies it was renovated and since then it has not been the same again". In addition to the unfair competition of supermarkets, a complaint that always comes from the “bancaroli” (sellers), Giovanni also blames the limited traffic zone as a cause of the crisis of their market. “Not being able to come by car, people buy just a kilo or maybe two. Once there was a little more tolerance for those who came to the market, but not any longer. The basement, which could be turned into a parking lot with entrance from Piazza Augusto Imperatore square, is closed and abandoned”. 07

Lucio, one of his helpers, adds: “Around lunchtime you can see so many people coming here to get the sandwich, a slice of pizza or a coffee, but they are not people who buy at the market”. On top of the fruit and vegetable stalls and of Nando’s fishmonger (“We are the youngest here, we’ve been here for three years and to meet customers’ needs, we also deliver at home ”) there is in fact Monte D'Oro Pizza offering real dishes in addition to pizza, focaccia and salads: from gricia mezze maniche, to fettuccine with truffles through sea bream in potato crust, and also a little bar assaulted by office workers at lunchtime.

Alice's wonderland

"I have a Granny, her name is Giuliana. When she was a little girl, just a little older than me, she used to go to Monte D’Oro market with her Mom. And she used to have a lot of fun on those two floors full of stalls: the delicatessen stalls on the ground floor, where they would give her a piece of cheese or a slice of ham as a gift and then fruit and vegetable stalls upstairs.

My Granny Giuliana told me that there was a stall which had a regular customer, an old man who used to go to the market every every day, to buy just a few things as he lived alone. He used to come at the stall where my Granny’s mother also used to buy and he would start touching all the fruit as to feel their pulse. So the lady at the counter would say “Here comes the doctor of the pears!”. But maybe he was just touching them because he had false teeth and he could eat very ripe fruit only".

Just around the corner

There is a common belief – and as such might be partially true – which has been afflicting Rome for decades: it’s impossible to accomplish  successful experiments of contemporary architecture in the heart of the Eternal City. According to this belief, Romans will never ever get their Beaubourg, or be able to show off a Capitoline Guggenheim among other beauties.


here is actually a monument in the heart of Rome – just a short walk away from Monte d'Oro square market – that could deny this cliché, and that actually risks to confirm it: it’s the Ara Pacis.
We are not talking about the monument itself, the Peace Altar wanted by the Senate in 13 BC to celebrate Emperor Augustus’ return from the successful campaign which ended the conflicts in Gaul and Spain. With its decorations picturing the ancestors of the Urbe (Aeneas, Romulus and Remus) and the successes of its first Emperor, the Ara Pacis is one of the most classic examples of the Roman celebratory art. It's the “wrapping” which shows the difficulty of bringing together in Rome the ‘ancient’ and ‘contemporary’: the restyling of the area by the American architect Richard Meier, officially presented in 2005, has been accompanied by furious controversy since its initial planning.

Discussions about excessive costs, the absence of a public competition, but especially fierce criticism on the final outcome, which by the way has not prevented the Ara Pacis museum from becoming one of the most visited in town. According to critics, the complex is not only hard to integrate with the surrounding environment, but it also obscures the churches of San Rocco and San Girolamo with its mass of white travertine, as well as the impressive – yet derelict – Mausoleum of Augustus.

mausoleoinsThe latter is another work highly symbolic in its own way: while the Ara Pacis complex shows the difficulty of creating a dialogue between new architecture lines and the classical antiquity or the Baroque grace, the Mausoleum of Augustus is a silent but eloquent witness of the thousands of lives that a monument can have in the Eternal City. Over the centuries, the funeral complex where the emperors Augustus, Tiberius, Claudius and Nerva were buried, was – not following a precise order – a quarry, a fortress, a circus, a vineyard, an arena for hunting and bullfighting shows, a theater, a construction site, a roof garden, a concert hall. In this latter shape, the Augustus building, in November 1921, hosted the Fascist Congress which marked the crucial transition from movement to party. And it will be Mussolini in person, in the '30s, to order the demolition of the theater to get back to the glorious Mausoleum. But the work failed miserably and a radical refurbishment is currently trying to put remedy to it.

dellechiaieinsNow, we have to suggest you a real ‘must’ of this walk in the neighborhood, a very special museum. You will not find it on tourists guides, but the Romans walking between the Mausoleum and the Ara Pacis have learned to love its masterpieces. The first time you might just trip over it and be surprised: imagine you are walking hurriedly along the street, absorbed by your thoughts, and you notice something strange in the corner of the eye, a detail, a break from reality or common sense. It could be a puppet leaning on a railing, a shape drawn on the asphalt with a piece of chalk, a sign written with a strange calligraphy. So, you will stop to look better and without even knowing it, you will be inside it already: it’s the OPEN AIR MUSEUM by the artist Fausto Delle Chiaie. The use of common materials reminds of Poor Art, the way of exposing them recalls Street Art, a sort of ironic smile accompanies them as in Pop Art, but the artist prefers to call his works “infractions” as explained in a “infractionist declaration” in 1986, or “forced donations”, as true gifts left in the street to become heritage of the city and of anyone passing by. Often the people passing by actually suggest or provide materials to the artist: because one of the advantages of the Open Air Museum is to be able to have a chat with the artist/creator at any time. Every day since 1989 Fausto Delle Chiaie takes a train and – if there is no rain – he sets up his exhibition in Augusto Imperatore square. If you happen to pass by and he is not there, don’t worry: during the refurbishment of Augustus’ Mausoleum he just moved a little further, in Monte Brianzo road, in front of Napoleon Museum. If the address can change, don’t have many expectations on the opening hours either: as the title of a documentary presented at the last Cannes Festival says, “the museum closes when the author is tired”.

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DOVE largo Monte d'Oro
ORARIO 7:00 - 15:00
PARCHEGGIO difficile, zona ZTL
AUTOBUS 628, 81
METRO A (Spagna, 800 mt a piedi)