Campo dei Fiori
Trip Over to Rome
The Campo dei Fiori market in Rome became a daily event for us. Living like the Italians and just picking up what we needed each day rather than going to the supermarket and buying up trolley loads as we do at home. Fortunately our apartment in Rome was a short walk to Campo dei Fiori (meaning field of flowers), so this wasn’t out of our way, and we got to know the stall holders. The first time I was at one of the vegetable stalls, the lady working there was horrified when I started picking out the salad leaves I wanted, but after that she would just give me a small plastic bag and leave me to it. We didn’t eat at the apartment much really, but the occasional meal and lighter snacks were needed, and of course some lovely Italian wines, or a bit of Limoncello on the terrace while we watched Rome go about the business of being Roman.
The first morning I woke up in Rome the view I had from my bed, across the lounge room of our apartment across to Janiculum Hill in one direction and to dome of Sant’ Andrea della Valle in the other had me leaping out of bed and getting ready to get out amongst it. Most days for us started with taking in the view over Largo di Torre Argentina right outside our apartment. Now a cat sanctuary, where Rome’s many stray cats hang out. Not that we saw or heard many of them, they keep pretty much to themselves. There is a lot of archealogical digging going on (we didn’t hear or see much of that either, just the signs of it), as during the rezoning of Rome for planned redevelopment in 1909, parts of giant marble statues and columns were uncovered. This led to the discovery of four temples and the Theatre of Pompey, where Julius Caesar was assassinated in 55 BC.
The square’s name has nothing to do with Argentina, the country. It came from the Papal Master of Ceremonies, Johannes Burckardt, who came from Strasbourg in 1503, he was known as Argentinius. The Tower in the square was named after him – Torre Argentina.
Across the square we spotted a coffee shop, called Cafffe Camerino (Yes there are 3 fs in Cafffe!) A Camerino is a theatre dressing room, so drawing reference to the Theatre of Pompey that sits underneath it. Our day out in Rome would generally begin by popping over to the Cafffe for a coffee, standing up, at the bar as they do in Italy. Of course, you can sit down – but it costs more and you move away from the atmosphere – when in Rome, do as the Romans do……….. Cafffe Camerino also serves the most delicious selection of mini pastries to have with coffee, and that’s breakfast taken care of.
A further 100 mtrs down Largo Arenula, then a right turn at Piazza Bendetto Cairoli, keep walking along here, the bakeries, delis, bag shops, fashion shops should slow you down, and just watching the people is fascinating. As you get closer to Campo dei Fiori you will notice the street name changes to Via dei Giubbonari, which is the street of tailors. All the streets around Campo dei Fiori are named for the work that was done there. Via dei Balestrari (crossbow makers), Via dei Cappellari (hat-makers), Via dei Chiavari (key-makers).
Along the way you will come across Forno Roscioli, the Roscioli family bakery since 1824, delicious pies and tarts, breads and pizza, but don’t worry, Rome is a walking city, and quick hike up Janiculum Hill and you’ll work it all off!
You will then arrive at the bustling market that is Campo dei Fiori, the only piazza in Rome without a church. Fruit, vegetables, pasta, oils, vinegars, pots, pans, everything is there. If you can’t find it in the market, the shops will have it. Some of the stalls are set up for tourists, coloured pastas and things like that, but it’s all interesting.
I particularly liked a little shop run by the Ruggeri family since 1919, up in the corner of the Campo near the corner of Via dei Guibbonari and Via dei Balestrari, the perfect place to pick up some wine, cheese, olives, a bit of porchetta and make sure you pick up some Limoncello to finish with and you’re all set………
Camp dei Fiori has a full history from being a field of flowers, to the path the Pope took to get through to the Vatican, to holding a flourishing horse market in the 1500s, to the public executions that were held here in the 1600s. There is a statue of philosopher Giordano Bruno, who was burnt alive for heresy, then regarded as a martyr to freedom of thought. The statue stands in the spot where the burning happened, defiantly facing the Vatican.
The market moved from Piazza Navona to the current location in 1869. Every morning the market is set up, then it is all packed away, the whole area is cleaned up and the evening crowd comes to fill the bars and clubs around the piazza. My only suggestion here is look but don’t try – any bar or restaurant with someone out the front touting for business is not where the locals go. You won’t get the best food, or the best service here, and you will pay more. But do go to some of the smaller places that don’t have a touter out the front, they serve great aperitivo – small delicious snacks served with drinks before dinner – while you indulge in a little people watching.
Itinerary for Trip Over to Rome
Flew from Sydney to Rome via Dubai, with Qantas/Emirates.
Stayed in an apartment near Largo di Argentina for a month – rented through Sleep in Italy, now available on Airbnb.
Walked all over Rome, bought a one month transport ticket for buses, the metro and some trains.
We caught the fast train from Rome Termini to Florence, and stayed for 3 nights at the Hotel Savoy.
While in Florence we went on a tour with Viator to Siena and San Gimignano.
Arranged for us to be picked up at the airport on arrival, and taken back at the end of our holiday with a private transfer with Viator.