Before coming to Rome, I heard and read a lot about all the different markets that are here with fresh produce, breads, cheeses, and more. Seeing and exploring these first hand was one of the things I was most looking forward to. You can imagine my excitement when I learned there was a large indoor market on the way from my residence to my campus. And this is a big market. We’re talking Reading Terminal Market (in Philadelphia) times three. It is called Trionfale Mercato located on Via Andrea Doria.
I walked in off the street to find stall after stall with produce from local farms lining rows that appear to stretch on to no end. My friends knew I was in heaven and I was grateful for their patience with me as I took time to just walk around and take in the large scale of the operation, gauging prices of the produce as I went. The quality of the goods being sold was excellent across the board. I bought a reusable grocery bag from a stall that was stocked with random items ranging from toilet paper to bed pillows (I was tempted to buy a pillow since the one provided by my residence is FLAT, but I’m getting used to it).
With my bag in hand I was ready to start buying produce. The only problem was I was so overwhelmed by my options that I had no idea what to start with. Should I get bread first or cheese? What vegetables do I actually want? What vegetables can I actually cook in my itsy bitsy residence kitchen with my more than limited kitchen utensils? And even if I knew the answers to these questions, I didn’t know which stall to choose for getting each item. It was looking like a “too much of a good thing” situation. But then, I saw them: the perfect bananas. They were huge and bright yellow with just a few brown spots; they were not quite ready to eat, but super close. (Okay, I know bananas aren’t a locally grown produce for Italy, but they are a staple in my diet and so I was super excited about this find).
With my first purchase in mind, I had only to learn the price of the bananas. I tried asking in my broken Italian, but the response I received from the vendor was one I couldn’t understand. I decided I wanted them no matter what, so I pointed to them and nodded, hoping that would make my point. The vendor thankfully understood, handed them to the cashier and asked if I wanted anything else. The apples looked good, so I pointed to them. But instead of getting to meticulously look over each apple and pick them out for myself, the vendor grabbed some and gave them to the cashier. When I realized that this was how things worked here, I was a little disappointed. My favorite part of markets is getting to interact with the food (luckily, not every booth was like this, and I did get to hand pick all my other produce).
When I got home, I was pleased to discover I spent less than 10 Euro on a variety of cheeses, nuts, fruits and vegetables. I was even more pleased when I tried them and realized how fresh and delicious they really were. Trionfale is a market that I will be returning to regularly, although that is not to say I won’t be going to other markets as well (because I most certainly plan on it). And an added bonus? I’ll be forced to practice my Italian while at the market because very few of the vendors speak English. It makes for a fun time.