13 Jul2006


The day after I visited the market at Ponte Milvio, we all headed to the market at Campo de Fiori, within walking distance of the Pantheon and Piazza Navona. Campo de Fiori is often campo2mentioned in the guidebooks as a quaint, sometimes must see, market within easy reach of nearby tourist attractions. Translated literally as Field of Flowers, the Field refers to the fact that the area was a field until the 15th century when it was paved over. But the flowers are unexplained…perhaps they grew there at the time? The area was once a horse trading/selling area then at one point executions of heretics and other “unsavory” characters were conducted here, before it became a vegetable market. Hmmm, perhaps that was the reason for bad vibes I got there…not the normal market rush of adrenalin! Frankly, I thought this market was highly overrated and I wasn’t impressed at all. Though it was charming, with vendors under those traditional canvas umbrellas, you definitely got the feeling that few locals shopped here for their typical daily ingredient requirements. Things just screamed tourist trap, tourist trap… At any rate, there were a few beautiful stalls bursting with fruit, vegetables, dried fruits and nuts, spices, etc. that were worth a five minute stroll, a dozen or so photos and a rapid departure for other nearby sights of greater interest…

As with all of the markets in Italy, the produce looked remarkably good, farm fresh and highly photogenic. I wish I were a much better photographer as my photos often simply campo4record what I see rather than taking them up a notch on the quality scale. I am so certain that a real photographer would come out of the same markets with far more tantalizing snapshots. At any rate, the tomatoes, zucchinis, greens (lots of organics and micro greens here at ridiculous prices per kilo) and other vegetables were just amazing. There is nothing as vivid as color from natural sources…the red of ripe tomatoes, the green of crisp spinach, the purple on fresh asparagus or the yellow of a squash flower…no wonder artists often use produce as subjects for paintings!

The one stall that really piqued my interest was a spice vendor. He had an incredibly novel way of displaying his spices in upside down conical plastic bags. The way his campo3wares were displayed were not only attractive and practical (you could see what was in the bag), but they were also easy to store, open and scoop the contents out of. You could buy lots of spices to take home (I noticed tourists were the big customers) and he could vacuum seal the purchases so your luggage didn’t smell of oregano when you got home. I also noticed a somewhat new penchant for selling spice mixes, say a dried puttanesca mixture or an arrabiata spice mixture to add to pasta sauces…this “instant” seasoning mentality, however, meant a bunch of really good spices pre mixed and sold to you in little packets…how civilized is that? A far cry from say a Knorr sinigang mix, if you ask me!

There were several fruit vendors at Campo de Fiori and they were doing a brisk business for folks stocking up on reasonably priced snack material (compared to buying it in a grocery or convenience store) for their day of touring Rome. Grapes, campo5cherries, bananas and other more tropical fruits were on offer at highly colorful, attractive and appetizing stalls. I was a bit surprised by the number of tropical fruits on offer like pineapples, some mangoes, and passionfruit. Dried fruits and nuts were also selling thought the selection was relatively small when compared to previous markets I have featured on this recent trip to Europe. The best overheard comment of the visit was a little kid asking if the rather dark statue in the middle of the Campo was “Darth Vader” to which the real answer is it is a memorial to the philosphers who were burned or killed on the spot. The specific individual depicted was apparently Giordano Bruno who was burned alive on the spot in 1600! Yipes.



  1. linda says:

    Wow! Those zucchinis looks like it has just been harvested. You can’t get it fresher than that! And as for the mixed spices,Ive never seen it before and I reckon it’s a smart selling point in the market.

    MM,we have been reading yr past posts on yr European tour and it appears visually as the virtual tour of a foodie’s dream.You gave us so much pleasure and at the same time it was really educational. We have learned so much – there were many things we may never ever heard of and many thanks to you,now we do.

    Ta mate! More power to you!

    Jul 13, 2006 | 8:18 pm


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  3. Marketman says:

    linda, you are most welcome…I really get so much feedback from you and other “regulars” that the effort to write each post seems so much more worth it… on average, each of these European posts gets about 2-4,000 page views in the week it comes out, but I am lucky if I hear from less than 1/20th of 1% of the readers who click on it… many thanks for such frequent visits to the site and for those roughly 100 regular “sukis” who leave intelligent, funny, insightful and encouraging (sometimes discouraging!) comments, thank you for making Marketmanila a part of your day!

    Jul 13, 2006 | 8:40 pm

  4. marga says:

    The pics of the veggies and fruits are Spectacular so don’t put down yourself. You were able to capture the produce in”living color”.The greens,oranges, purples, reds etc were as good as if I was seeing them myself. Actually your play on words make it all the more vivid and awesome. Again what can I say that has not been said by the other readers….
    Thanks once again for your generosity of spirit.

    Jul 14, 2006 | 10:34 am

  5. Wilson Cariaga says:

    wow. .. how I wish it is that good here in philippines. . .

    Jul 14, 2006 | 6:24 pm

  6. izang says:

    your photos are good…your posts make it better…..it would be the best if your in it…….hehehehe

    keep it up!

    Jul 15, 2006 | 12:28 pm

  7. Leslie says:

    I bought some of those spices on my last trip to Rome, and am sad to say there is very little left. So, I’ve asked my friend to pick some up on her vacation to Italy this week. I highly recommend the spices.

    Sep 8, 2006 | 2:49 pm

  8. Katie says:

    I purchased a small amount of the mixed spices for my family as gifts. I got yelled at quite a bit for not buying more. They are delicious.

    Jun 17, 2008 | 11:19 pm

  9. Kathleen says:

    DO you know the name of that spice shop so I can re-order the spice I bought in March? I can’t find the name. Thanks

    Aug 13, 2008 | 4:23 am

  10. suzanne schweitzer says:

    Where can I buy dried arrabiata spices?

    Sep 10, 2008 | 6:56 am


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