Reading at the market... yes, you can!

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Discover one of the most interesting markets of Rome with me. Join our Air bnb experience: Unità Market in Prati (near Vatican)

Among carrots and zucchini, shoes and children-wear, cold cuts and fish sometimes you can even find a book. It’s not easy nor common, but in Rome’s corner markets you can also read! Because there is an second-hand books stall, a real book shop or a dedicated area where you can take a break and read a newspaper.

If you bring the newspaper from home, you can spend some time reading almost in any market, but there is one with a new dedicated area which seems made for it: Nomentano’s market in Piazza Alessandria. After a major renovation in the spring of 2016, there is an open square with wooden tables and benches, with wifi, where you can take a break, read a newspaper or eat a snack. In the last few months, there has been started a sort of library, continuously enriched with new books donated by the visitors or the neighbors, happy to spend some time in a cozy place, as comfortable as their own living room.

15966313 605847662918916 4875499902630258968 nFollowing the lessons learned at Nomentano Market, another covered market, Trieste market in via Chiana, has launched a bookcrossing initiative. Right in the center of the market, as there were some free slots, they have created a reading area, where people can exchange a book, read a newspaper or just take a break eating something they just bought at the market. “There are not specific rules – explains to Amedeo, president of the market association, in addition to his cheese stall – we just assume that those who take a book, bring (or will bring) to the market a book themselves. People have reacted enthusiastically and we have gathered a lot of books in a very short time”. Therefore, as of today, Trieste market’s library offers a full collection of Mondadori mistery books, some classical masterpieces, such as Stendhal’s The Charterhouse of Parma or Eco’s The name of the Rose and there are even very original bookmarks. A bookcrossing corner also at via Baccina market in Monti, where you can find tables and chairs to relax and libri michelaread. In addition, at Michela Funtiffany Arts & Crafts there is a sections with many books and educational toys  “which bring children back to manual work, there are objects which need to be built, colored, manipulated and some traditional toys, mainly in wood”. Toys and books for the younger ones (from 0 to 10 years old) to encourage creativity, traditional tales such as Little Red Riding Hood and The Three Little Pigs with a new graphic design, books for those who are about to go to school and even some stationery.

While waiting for such a beautiful area in other markets, let’s take a tour around the book stalls.P1040264 At Testaccio Market, where traditional stalls meet street food and starred cuisine, there is a stall of second-hand books and comics. It’s owned by Samuele since approximately ten years “I used to have a stall in San Cosimato square in Trastevere, every night I had to put it down and every morning I had to put it up again. Then I got this spot at Testaccio. It all started from a big passion, which turned into a job: I used to wander around antique bookshops and buy some books, at the beginning I would only sell at week-end markets, later I stayed at Trastevere for a few months until I moved here. My stall used to be a fishmonger, then an haberdashery shop and finally a bookshop”.

Let’s see the “dedicated” sites, they are not many, but there are. 

In the city center, in Fontanella Borghese square, between piazza di Spagna and piazza del Popolo, there is the antique books and prints market, sixteen small stands offering vintage pictures and cameras, ancient and modern paintings, important manuscripts and autographs, ancient prints, postcards, books, some sculptures, vintage jewelry or objects. Among the stalls in Repubblica square, on one side of Termini railways station, there are mainly second-hand books, including chick lits or detective novels, and a few ancient titles. There is also a unique stall, worth the visit, in Cairoli square, at the corner with Arenula street.
Then there are a lot of second-hand books in the most famous market of Rome, Porta Portese, where you can find almost anything: furniture and objects of all times, flea market merchandise, but also lining, new and second-hand clothes, vinyl and CDs, books and prints, historical newspapers, but also Rome soccer team t-shirts and underwear, pet food and balls of wool or cotton (depending on the season), watches and shoes, shells and jewelry, leather jackets and luggage, beads and toys. Just to mention some, as the list could be endless. In fact there is a quote about Porta Portese which says “you can find anything, from a pill to a Jumbo Jet”.
The book stalls are slightly out of the market, on Viale Trastevere side (bus stop Ippolito Nievo), they are not many, but quite chaotic, as many stalls around there. But you could find some interesting books, often on sale “culture at 2€, 3 pieces 5€”. P1080198
On Saturday and Sunday there is another small market in the basement of Ostiense station, a few stalls but with a wide choice of books, including some for young readers. As far as young readers are concerned, let’s not forget the stalls selling second-hand school books half price, from July to October. They are approximately 20, grouped in an association of Oberdan booksellers (the name comes from the place where they stand since 25 years), which is well known by all Roman students. “We started with fruit boxes piled one on the other, we probably inspired even Ikea to make their bookcases – explains one of the association’s members - then someone used to come with a borrowed station wagon, with all the books arranged on the seats and later, those more enterprising would come with vans”. Now there are 22 stalls full of good deals in Risorgimento square, Adriana square and Lungotevere Oberdan.

libreria parchetto2We would like to end this “reading” tour around the markets, with a few tips for children. There are a few bookshops in Rome dedicated to children or teenagers, some of which we mentioned in our Alice’s wonderland section. There is Tana Liberi Tutti near the Biomarket at Città dell'Altra Economia, L'altracittà near via Catania market, Il giardino incartato near Condottieri / Labicano market, la libreria Ponte Ponente near via Orvieto market, but there is a very special place in San Cosimato square in Trastevere, in the same square of the historical market. It was created by the passion of Ottimomassimo booksellers, the moving bookshop which found his shelter in via Luciano Manara. After taking books to children wherever they were, from school to the beach, at the park or at parties, Tiziana and Debora created a small library in the little park in San Cosimato square. There is only one rule: if you take a book, you need to leave one. It’s actually better to hand in the books you want to give away to the bookshop, they will check them, fix them if needed and then put them in the library, for all those little hands and curious eyes.

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