It used to be the Jewish fish market. In Medieval times, Tevere river and the river port of Ripa Grande welcomed the boats landing from Ostia. Originally, fish waste (fish bones, heads) or ‘poor quality’ fish were put to good use for one of the historical recipes of the ‘Ghetto’: the Roman fish broth.
A walk through the stalls
To recall ancient times, the new market opened in 2009 hosts a fish stall, actually a real fishmonger selling fresh fish brought by a fishermen association from Terracina. The stall opens only if the weather – the day before the market – has been good. If the weather is bad, the stall doesn’t even open, which proofs the freshness of what they sell.
At San Teodoro, all products are fresh and local, grown, raised and processed in Lazio region by the 54 agricultural firms always attending the market. Among meat products, there is
Chianina (Italian breed of cattle, by the bio-firm Vittorio Placidi), the meats coming from Tenuta dell'Argento (literally, Silver Farm) whose animals are all raised grazing and those by Alan Farm. Collemaggiore firm offers black pork, traditionally from Lazio. There are also ready to cook products, such as meatballs, meat skewers, hamburgers or roulades but also clean and cut vegetables, ready to be stirred. Fruit and vegetable stalls take the lead (they all have a ticket to avoid queues), selling local products: seasonal products, well presented (on the website you can check the fruit and vegetables calendar). There are also several kinds of bread, baked with own flours (Capati agricultural firm), honey, jams, nuts and chocolate creams, pickled vegetables, peeled tomatoes and tomato sauces.
There are many ‘product specific’ stalls, such as Borgo Beer, “real ale” from Piana di Spiedino (near Rieti) or cheese stalls that sell sheep, goat or cow milk products (from ricotta to aged pecorino). Among them, the most remarkable ones are: Lorenzo Pacitti’s brand Casa Lawrence with its pecorino from Picinisco and the famous Conciato di San Vittore, another traditional Lazio cheese; Benacquista firm with its wide offer of goat cheese and also white and black truffles coming from the land bordering with Abruzzo; Tinte Rosse firm with its fresh milk, yogurt, cream and soft cheeses and taleggio, all made of goat milk. Another monothematic stall is the fresh pasta (Casale dei Pozzi firm) made of ancient Saragolla wheat, ground on stone, which is made in real time, when you actually purchase it. Oscar Campagna, the crafstman farmer, sells very nice wood objects, bowls and little animals, bows and strings, and wild fruits: mushrooms and rowans, but also nuts and dried plums and apples, all coming from Monti Lepini, samples of a Farming and Agriculture Museum.
In the very likely event that all this wonderfully tempting fresh produce whets your appetite, you could take some “time out” to join other hungry shoppers at the tables in the courtyard and treat yourself to some of your purchases or try the menu of one of the farm chefs who rotate at the market every week. Typical menu: spelt soup, olive stew, tripe, lamb pluck or grilled vegetables. One dish with bread, water and wine for 6€.
The Apecar in the courtyard offers fresh fruits and vegetables juices in summer and hot soups in winter. For wine lovers the wine shop proposes a wide choice of typical wines from Lazio, but not only, and every weekend offers a different tasting. Inside the wine shop, there is also a coffee corner where you can try the historical coffee brand Morganti or buy it in its bio edition.
After buying all you need for cooking, with one last stop you can decorate your table at the big flower stall just before the exit.
"What I like the most at Circo Massimo market is that it is all in circle. Once you have had a ride, you can start again … just like a merry-go-round!
The first time I went there with Mummy and Daddy, I didn’t realize and it looked so big and never seemed to end. Mummy and Daddy didn’t really know where to go, after a while they realize we were just going around and around.
So I complained until they finally lifted me up to see the stalls… amazing!
My favorite stall is the pumpkin stall. There are so many of them, all different: long and thin or big and round, orange or green. The man at the stall is very nice, he once gave us a bright orange pumpkin for free. He said to Mummy ‘there you go, you can make a pumpkin soup for your lovely daughter!’. He doesn’t know that I don’t eat grown up food yet, apart from pear ice cream. But I liked him, so maybe I will try the pumpkin soup.
I only eat pear ice cream as there is no milk. Because when I eat something with milk I get all those red spots on my face. Here at the market there is goat milk ice cream, I have tried but I still got red spots.
The last time I came I met a boy. His name is Owen, his Daddy is from Rome and his Mummy from Texas. He is brown like chocolate, milk chocolate. I am afraid I could not eat him anyway
He has beautiful eyes and curly hair. We held hands. Maybe next time I’ll meet him again!"
Butternut pumpkin cream for 4 people
Our pumpkin expert suggests to use a ‘butternut’ pumpkin, also known as ‘violin’ due to its shape, with a ‘suede’ color pulp.
Take half a kilogram of pumpkin pulp cut in cubes and brown it in a pan with some olive oil and a thin sliced leek. When browned, add some salt and vegetable broth (that you can prepare boiling few carrots, celery and fennels). When the pumpkin is soft enough, blend it with 100 ml of liquid cream. You can serve it in Martini glasses and decorate with a ‘tempura’ pumpkin flower.
Just around the corner
It’s literally around the corner. Walking out of the market, on your right you will find CIRCO MASSIMO, the biggest ‘stadium’ from ancient times.
The story goes that this is the place where , during a cart race, the rape of the Sabine women took place. The ellipse of the race is still visible: the path once followed by horses carts, later proposed as a landscape of the most famous scene of BEN HUR (if the ‘cultural’ authority of the city had not denied authority for shooting), is now one of the preferred destinations of joggers. The two obelisks that were once in the middle of the track, now embellish Popolo and S.Giovanni in Laterano squares.
The only building still standing inside Circo Massimo has been there since Medieval times: the Moletta tower, where the noble lady Jacopa de' Settesoli hosted in 1223 her friend Francesco d'Assisi (apparently such close friends that, Beata Jacopa is buried in Assisi in front of the Saint’s grave).
Popolo e di S.Giovanni in Laterano. L'unico edificio che ancora si innalza nel Circo ci è rimasto dal Medioevo: è la Torre della Moletta, dove si dice che la nobile romana Jacopa de' Settesoli abbia ricevuto nel 1223 il suo amico Francesco d'Assisi (talmente amici, i due, che oggi la Beata Jacopa è sepolta ad Assisi di fronte alla tomba del Santo).
The Circo splits up two historical Roman hills: on one side the ruins of Palatino, the hill where the mythic founder Romolo established his home and where throughout centuries all the main temples and imperial homes of Ancient Rome were built. On the Aventino side, the severe soul of one of the country’s founders, Giuseppe Mazzini, and the flower-scented one of the PUBLIC ROSE GARDEN (it’s really worth a walk, if you are in Rome in spring: it’s open only when in full bloom ).
It might be just a coincidence, but the rose garden is in the same place where there once was a temple dedicated to the goddess Flora. While it is not by coincidence that the alleys on one side of the garden resemble the shape of a menorah, the 7 candles holder of the Jewish tradition: it is a way to thank the Jewish community for allowing the rose garden to be built where, for over two centuries, the Israelitic cemetery was.
p.s. those passing by Rome out of the blossom season, can walk a little further beyond the rose garden, up on Aventino hill, to find the Giardino degli Aranci (Orange Garden): the plants after which the garden is named might not be as beautiful as the roses, but the view of the city is spectacular!
And then, only a few steps away from the market, there is one of the most popular attractions in town, which became immortal after ‘Roman holiday’: THE TRUTH MOUTH. The marble mask, probably a ‘prosaic’ manhole in old times, has been a legend since Medieval times. Tradition says that the mask punishes those who tell lies, eating the hand of the liar. Gregory Peck gives a good example in the movie mentioned above: apparently he improvised the scene and Audrey Hepburn’s scared reaction was real, not acted. If you visit the Truth Mouth, don’t be surprised to see many tourists doing the same in front of their fiancés: many legends around this monument refer to couple’s unfaithfulness. Don’t let ‘Roman holiday’ fool you on this: while the two actors enter S.Maria in Cosmedin church pronaos and find it empty, you will have to stand in a long queue before putting your hand in the mask’s mouth and prove your faithfulness!
|Where||Via San Teodoro, 74|
|open||Saturday (9:00-18:00) and Sunday (9:00-16:00)|
|PArking||Via Dei Cerchi, Via San Teodoro, Via del Circo Massimo|
From Termini Railway Station, Line 170
|metro||line B, (Circo Massimo, Colosseo stop)|
telefono – 06.4073090; 06.48993.204/215 – dalle 9:00 alle 14:00