Today I get to tell you about one of my favorite food experiences in Rome: the market at Campo dei Fiori! Named for the field of flowers that was originally here, this piazza has an open air market from Monday to Saturday. Going to the market from Via Arenula (the way we always go coming from studio), you go down this little street lined with shops and arrive at a piazza. Bypassing the people hawking sunglasses and iPhone cases, you are greeted with the sight of dozens of tents shading tables full of fresh produce and Italian delicacies.
One of the things that surprised me the most about Rome, and probably all over Italy, is how good the fruit is, especially that at the market (fondly called just “Campo” by many of the students). It is all super fresh and grown regionally, or at least on the same continent. Among the best things you can get at the market, and in Italy in general really, are blood oranges. They are absolutely phenomenal! These little oranges look completely normal, but when you peel them, they are bright red inside, thus their name in Italian: rosso arancia. I’ve never had a bad one, but the less delicious ones still taste like a really good American orange. And along the lines of blood oranges, everyone should try spremuta at least once; it’s freshly squeezed orange juice, made with blood oranges when they are in season (which has been our entire time over here so far).
My favorite part of the market, though, is the people. Walking through to get our fresh fruit and veggies with the “real” locals, many of us have found favorite food stands and shopkeepers who we are getting to know. About halfway down the left side when coming from Arenula, my best friend at the market, Emanuele, sells dried fruits and nuts, most of which are rare in America, such as kumquats and little sweet tomatoes that I eat like candy. Nearly all of the nuts are regionally grown and around a third of the fruit is from Italy. Every time I go there, we talk exclusively in Italian, even though he speaks English rather well, forcing me to learn the language, which is fantastic and is usually really fun. Working with Emanuele is Johnny (pretty sure that’s not his real name…) who offers candy and cookies, which are also super yummy (if you get the chance to go there, grab some biscotti al limone – I’m munching on them as I write this).
Next to Emanuele and Johnny is a family run produce stand. At this small cluster of tables, Lilo and Daniele have some of the freshest fruit in the market, especially their many varieties of pears. Talking to Daniele (in Italian, of course), who has worked here for 18 years, I learned that they get all of their fruits and vegetables every morning at the mercato generale, a giant farmers market where farmers from the surrounding areas bring the freshest and ripest of their crops to sell in the city.
Another really great thing about the market (I’m not sure if I could tell you a bad thing) is the prices. Only slightly higher than the grocery stores in Rome and in America, the food at Campo dei Fiori is very reasonably priced. Unlike American farmers’ markets, the one’s I’ve been to anyway, the prices are about double a normal grocery store and taste marginally better. In Rome, compared to what is available at the supermercato, the produce at the market is infinitely fresher and tastier.
Now that I’ve waxed on about my love for the market, I’m getting hungry for oranges. Vado al Campo, Ciao!