Monday, September 12, 2011
Rome is a city of neighborhoods. If you live here you already know that. If you visit Rome, you’ve likely heard of and visited some of the more central ones, like Trastevere, Monti, Campo dei Fiori or even Testaccio.
Once you live in a neighborhood you get very attached to it. Even though Rome isn’t really that big, like most people I get lazy and tend to stick close to home. Yes, I’ll head over to other areas to shop or meet someone for a coffee. But there are entire areas of Rome that I don’t know very well since - I admit it - I never have a good reason to go to them.
Via Gregorio VII is one of those places. For me, Via Gregorio VII is simply one of those roads that lead out of town, (like the Cassia or the Salaria) This is the road I usually take when headed towards the Aurelia. The four lanes which lead up from behind the Vatican are separated by a divider and shaded with huge pine trees. This should make it a nice street, but if you’re in your car (which I always am) the road is a nightmare. Cars are double and triple parked, lanes turn into left-hand turn only lanes with no warning, pedestrians are always running across the divider (what else is new? this is Rome) and I’m always in a tizzy by the time I get to the top.
The other day I decided to give this street another chance. I had to take the car into the shop, and so - since I was forced to be on foot - I decided to walk it.
My first stop was of course the Pasticceria Svizzera Siciliana, to build up strength for my long walk. A chocolate and ricotta stuffed donut did just the trick.
Thus fueled, I started my stroll. As it turned out the sidewalks were just as congested as the road. But in a good way. I was continuously dodging small groups of people, just hanging out, chatting. Mothers pushing strollers, older men buying the newspapers, and many many women of every age rolling shopping carts. Everyone seemed to know each other, and every was taking the time to stop, say hello, and just catch up after the summer vacation.
None of this should have surprised me I guess. Via Gregorio VII is flanked by block after block of densely packed apartment buildings. I would guess this is one of the most heavily residential areas in Rome. In other words, a big happy neighborhood.
Which usually means one thing: a great market. And after a few more blocks of dogging prams and shopping carts I arrived at one of the best neighborhood markets I've ever been to in Rome. While many neighborhood markets are being pushed out these days by the advent of supermarkets, the one on Gregorio VII is bustling and thriving.
Although there were a few fish and meat stands, it was the produce stands that were outstanding. Piles of local and seasonal fruit and vegetables. Hand written signs on wrinkled paper bags proclaimed beans from Terracina, eggplants from Maccarese and grapes from the Castelli. There were even a few organic stands with crates full of end-of-season, misshapen tomatoes and first-of-the-season pumpkins.
Unfortunately I was walking, and so couldn't load up as I would have liked. I wish I had had one of those wheely carts like all the other housewives. But now that I know my way there, I'll certainly be back. At the very least, I have to go back next week to pick up my car, right? And now that I realize Via Gregorio VII isn't as annoying as I thought, I may just make the trip more often.
Mercato Via Gregorio VII
Via San Silverio, Roma
Open Mon-Sat, 8am-1pm.