Trionfale market is considered the first corner market in Rome and with its 273 stalls is the biggest in town, and among the biggest ones in Italy and even in Europe. Open on Giulio Cesare avenue at the end of ‘800, for years it has been a transit spot for those going out of town or hunting and stopped with carriage or horses to refuel. At that time, it was countryside all around.
A walk through the stalls
Then, in the 30’s, it moved to Andrea Doria road, in what used to be a working-class neighborhood and has later turned into a stylish area. These two souls actually live together in the market as of today, making it very cheap on one side, but also refined thanks to a number of stalls selling early fruits and vegetables and other rare goods.
On March 11 2009, the new Trionfale market was officially opened in a huge glass and cement building, an underlying parking with 420 garages and 320 car spaces, including a post office and aiming at becoming a full services center, with a library, a nursery and some university facilities which still need to be opened.
The market is organized in hallways, with colored stalls according to the merchandising category: green for fruits and vegetables (the farmers are towards the end of the market), blue for fish, red for meat. You can find really anything at Trionfale: fresh and dried fruits, any kind of rice and cereals, fresh fish and salted codfish, cold cuts, cheese but also haberdashery, clothes, bags, shoes, kids toys, Christmas decorations, honey, jams, exotic goods such as fruits and vegetables for ethnic recipes. In other words, a full shopping bag.
IIn the central hallway, starting from the main entrance, are the oldest license stalls. Among them, Peppino’s selling eggs (bio hens and not, quails), honey and jams, bio products. Now managed by the third generation of sellers, it has kept the grandfather’s name, born in the USA from emigrants from Arce (Frosinone) who decided to come back to Italy and started to raise hens and turkeys. “My grandfather already owned the stall in 1928. He used to bring to the market eggs and animals still alive, which he would kill at need. His license is one of the first ones, I still keep it as a memory” says the grandchild showing it.
A little further, there is the dried fruits, chestnuts and mushrooms stall of Iolanda, born in 1923. “I have inherited the stall from my mother, who owned it in the 20’s, then I married a fruit seller and we merged our stalls. I keep on working despite the age, the crisis, the work which has decreased and the competition of big stores”.
Then there is Angelo who in life has done “anything but this” and ended up at a cold cuts and cheese stall to help his son. “The license is old, but it was not ours. My son Enrico and my daughter-in-law Katia bought it and I joined to help them, after a long-life career in the police. I was born in Andrea Doria road, so even if I live quite far now, I am happy to be back in the neighborhood where I was born”.
There is really a wide choice and among two kilos of Sicilian oranges for one euro fifty, puntarelle (a sort of early winter chicory) which just miss dressing, ready-to-cook minestrone and many meat dishes (filled zucchini, eggplant hamburgers) you could also listen to some interesting stories. But for those who don’t have time or cannot move from home, you could even order from some of the stalls on www.almercato.net, home delivery for 3 euros. Unfortunately at the moment the site is not working.
“The evening after I went to Trionfale, when it was time to bed I told Mummy and Daddy: ‘I will tell you a story tonight!’
Once upon a time there was a girl named Iole, her Mummy had prepared a little basket with cookies and chocolate for her sick grandmother. To reach her grandmother’s house, she had to go through a wood and her Mummy had told her: mind the wolf! Iole was not even thinking about the wolf, she was singing some happy songs and stopping every now and then to pick up some mushrooms and chestnuts.
Time was passing by and Iole had put in her pocket the cookies and chocolate and filled the basket with sweet chestnuts and mushrooms. All of a sudden, the wolf came out of a tree and said “Hello sweetie, where are you going?”. “Hello wolf, nice to meet you, eat the cookies and chocolate, I don’t have time to go to grandmother’s now”.
The wolf was so astonished that he could not say no, so he went back home to eat the goodies and didn’t think about any other misdeeds. While Iole went to the market and sold the chestnuts for 6,99€ / kilo”.
Just around the corner
Just around the corner you will get to the smallest state of the world (44 hectares only) but with the greatest number of masterpieces: we are talking about the Vatican City of course. Starting from Andrea Doria road, you can walk along the walls fencing the Vatican Museums, a must of any visit to Rome, as well as is a must S.Pietro cathedral, the heart of Christianity. We suggest you stand in the middle of the square, exactly on one of the two marble disks between the twin fountains and the obelisk basis: you will recognize them from the inscription CENTRO DEL COLONNATO (center of the columnade). Well, once your foot are on one of those circles, you will have to admit the architectural genius of Bernini: from that spot, the two monumental half circles embracing all the faithfuls praying in the square since 400 years, will seem as a unique line, instead of four as they are in reality.
Walking up Conciliazione road towards Tevere, we suggest two tipically Roman stops. For the first one, you’ll have to turn left in Campanile little road: at number 4 (ma altre fonti sostengono fosse al numero 2) used to live one of the most known characters (unfortunately), but some other sources say it was at number 2. It’s the house of MASTRO TITTA, the executioner of Rome. In his career at the service of the Popes, Giovanni Battista Bugatti (this is his real name) executed more than 500 sentences, between 1796 and 1864, in the whole Papal State territory. Lord Byron and Charles Dickens wrote about him, on top of Belli in his sonnets. Despite his role, the character of Mastro Titta is for many Romans a good natured one, also thanks to the theatre and movies interpretations by Aldo Fabrizi and Paolo Stoppa. The red cloak used by Mastro Titta on the scaffold is still conserved at the Criminal Museum of Rome, in Giulia road.
Moving along Conciliazione road, but slightly diverting to the right, towards Borgo S.Spirito, you get to the compound of S.Spirito hospital. In the court of Commendatore (the chief of the hospital) Palace look up at a strange clock with a cardinal hat. Inside, you will notice a lizard acting as clock hand and the face split in six hours, instead of twelve. It’s the traditional face of the ROMAN CLOCK, abandoned at the time of pope Pio IX, who imposed the French system, still in force today. Another peculiar feature of S. Spirito compound is the EXPOSED WHEEL, the first appeared in Italy: it’s a turning wooden wheel – requested by Pope Innocenzo III in 1198 – where unwanted new born babies could be left, so that they could be looked after by the hospital instead of being abandoned in the street or thrown in Tevere river.
via Andrea Doria 3
|open||Monday – Saturday, h 7:00 – 14:00 (on Tuesday and Friday up to h 19)|
from Largo Argentina, Line 492
Line A, Ottaviano – San Pietro (walking distance 500 mt)