A walk through the stalls
The old covered market of Piazza Testaccio has been waiting for years to be moved to a location that had been given to a private real estate manager by the municipality. A move announced years ago and postponed several times, including a delay due to the discovery of archeological findings (that by the way could be an antique market).
We have visited it before – between a glorious past and an uncertain future – and after.
Next to the traditional fruit, vegetable, fish, meat and bread stalls, some different ones have appeared at Testaccio in the last few years, the kind of stalls that you would not expect in a farmers’ market. There’s a used books and comics stall, where Samuele also sells T-shirts and fabric bags made by his creative wife; there’s a tailor shop ‘made in testaccio’ with clothes and accessories both off the peg and tailor made; there’s a stall called ‘20mq’ selling design items and gift ideas, such as a vase to hang plants upside down, washable maps of the most popular cities, all kinds of lamps, clothes hangers made of stones or ties made of rag cloth that can be used both by ‘business men and house men’.
The stalls are organized by category, in one corner the fish vendors, in the other the butchers, clothing on one side of the square, refrigerated section for food on the other. Some historical stalls look ‘antique’ and often the business has been passed from father to son for generations.
The vendors are quite talkative. Some give recipes (“the ‘acqua pazza’ fish, Madam, is so easy, let me explain…”) or recommendations (“in ‘amatriciana’ sauce you put lard, in ‘carbonara’ bacon… don’t mess up”), others tell you the story of their stall. You can even find a unique stall selling nothing else but sardines from a can. Or a bread vendor with bio products by a well known brand – from spelt biscuits to brasilian acai nectar – competing with specialized shops.
The new market at via Galvani was officially opened on July 2nd. 5000 square meters, of which 2000 dedicated to public services and shops, slots for 103 vendors, an underground of 6000 square meters for a total of 270 parking spaces. Additionally, an archeological area of 7000 square meters that will be open to visitors in a couple of years.
Many stalls are the same as before, but some who were already thinking of moving on, have now left. Generally, good old stalls, with some new. Samuele, for example, has added some pottery alongside books and comics (“there wasn’t enough room before”), while the “20mq” guys have actually got the same space as their name. Then there are some brand new entries, such as a corner dedicated to typical Roman food (pizza or tripe sandwich), Mordi e vai or a Sicilian bakery by Costanza, Dess'art. Alessandro and Alessandra have recently joined with their lab Le mani in pasta (literally, hands in the pie). Hand-made cannelloni, ravioli and gnocchi with bio and kamut flour, bio and local products, but also catering services at your home. "I work as a cook by night – says Alessandro – I wanted to open a place on my own, but with such a crisis it doesn’t seem to be the right time, so for the time being I make pasta and cook at people’s home”.