People always tell me that they love Italy but ‘Oh Italian food with all that pasta and pizza and gelato is so heavy and unhealthy!!’ I disagree. Here in Rome I hardly ever go to the supermarket as I’m down in the piazza buying fresh produce almost every morning.
If you’re travelling through Italy and trying to save money by not eating at restaurants for every meal, why not head to a farmer’s market and sample some fragole or mele for a snack, or pick up some fresh vegetables if you’re renting an apartment with a kitchen. They often sell bread and cheese as well – so all you need for your picnic lunch is some ripe red tomatoes and in Italy they always throw in the basil for free. You’ll find fruit and vegetable stalls all over the city, however, here are three of my top markets for good quality produce.
Piazza delle Coppelle
I personally know the family that runs this tiny market and there is simply no cuter piazza in which to buy your frutta! Just around the corner from the Pantheon and Piazza Navona, these guys are open every day until mid afternoon, except Sundays. There is also a guy who sells fresh seafood – but he’s only there two days a week. Say hi to Marco, the young guy running the place. He’s a good friend.
Campo dei Fiori
This one is famous. Of course it’s much, much bigger and you will also find stalls selling spices, trinkets, kitchenware, clothes and of course, flowers, given the name of the square means ‘field of flowers’. I find this market a little touristy but the buzz and atmosphere and diversity of produce is certainly worth checking out. There’s a guy who sells delicious nuts and dried fruit, which is a great pick-me-up when you’ve got long days of sightseeing and another who sells cups of chopped fruit, which is a godsend in the summer .
Piazza Monte d’Oro
This market is well hidden so you could easily miss it even though it’s in the very centre of the city. If you’re on the busy shopping street of Via del Corso and your legs are tired and you can’t agree on a restaurant with your travel partner, head to this place where not only do they have a great variety of fruit and vegetables, there’s also a stall that sells cheap delicious bites for lunch, from a scrumptious panino to a traditional Italian cooked meal all ready and packaged up perfect for a portable picnic.
And when you have your brown paper bags filled with soft sweet figs and a ball of mozzarella, where can you head for a picnic? I’m glad you asked. Stay tuned for next week’s post on the perfect picnic spots in Rome.