The market at Ponte Milvio was a 10-12 minute walk down the hill from our apartment in the suburbs of Rome. This was my kind of market. Large enough so that it has a good selection of produce, yet small enough so that you realized it really just served the nearby neighborhoods. Approximately 2/3 of the vendors sold produce, fish and meat and the rest of it was clothing, housewares and cheap kitsch. I walked down to the market early one morning and though some of the fish and meat provedores were still closed, the produce vendors were out in full force. I always seem to load up on good endorphins on early morning market trips and this was no exceptionâ€¦
The themes of the season were making themselves heard over and over again. There were spectacular asparagus, the last of the Spring artichokes, early melons imported from Southern provinces, spectacular tomatoes regardless of the cool weather, lots of greens and incredible fruit. Berries were out in force and so were the miniature greens or young rucola that turn into such delicious salads. For some reason the small â€œwildâ€ though now cultivated rucola are so much more appetizing than the huge arugula that is sold in many non-Italian markets, including some in the Philippines. There was a cheese monger at which I could have loaded a whole maleta if they only made them refrigerated with battery packsâ€¦ ahhh, the vats of fresh mozzarella swimming in liquid were so appetizing!
There were also several kinds of radicchio and the freshest looking spinach I have ever seen. You almost wanted to pull out a pan and make a wilted spinach salad right on the spot! The vendors thought I was a little strange walking around just talking photos (first pass), not to mention the odd looks that many Filipinas and Filipinos were giving meâ€¦an obvious new arrival but who oddly was snapping shots of â€œgulayâ€ instead of people or buildingsâ€¦ there must have been at least 30 pinoys in the market that day and I was keeping close to some of them to see what they were buyingâ€¦ There werenâ€™t many tourists at all and you could tell from the volume of produce changing hands that serious family meals were in the offing. Imagine if I wrote an Pinolian (Pinoy/Italian) cookbook based on interviews with Pinoy housekeepers and cooks who worked in Italy???
On my second round of the market, camera put away, I could not resist some incredible melons (which we ate with proscuitto, see previous post), some apples, peaches, berries, etc. I forgot that the walk back home was 12 minutes UPHILL (now 15-17 minutes!) and with heavy fruit that felt more like conquering the foothills of the Himalayas without a sherpa in towâ€¦ The market at Ponte Milvio was well worth the visitâ€¦ try to hit it on a weekend if you want maximum selection.