13 Jul2006


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 mil4of 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 exception…

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 mil3from 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 “wild” 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 packs… 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 mil2spot! 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 me…an obvious new arrival but who oddly was snapping shots of “gulay” instead of people or buildings… 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 buying… There weren’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, mil5I 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 tow… The market at Ponte Milvio was well worth the visit… try to hit it on a weekend if you want maximum selection.



  1. NYCMama says:

    Reading your posts is like hearing my inner self speaking! I did the same thing in Rome, taking pictures, admiring the produce, not buying much, and did the same thing in Amsterdam, and England, and Mexico, and Peru…. My husband and I really should take a vacation where we have access to a kitchen. When you stay at a hotel, all you can do is make tulo-laway with the produce! The fruits we buy, and the hubby always packs a Swiss army knife in the luggage for such purposes! One time we bought too many blood oranges, and on the plane on the way home, I remembered them… and made the hubby eat them (Sayang!) instead of letting it be confiscated by customs! We did not learn our lesson, and did the same thing while driving back from Canada..loaded with unfinished lansones and atis from the Thai grocery..pulled over the side, and ate the last of it before getting to the border!

    Jul 13, 2006 | 12:40 pm


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  3. fried-neurons says:

    Wow! Those are some awesome pictures, MM! I’m generally not a big veggie eater, but whenever I go to a market with produce that beautiful, I end up “eating like a rabbit” for days on end.

    As for radicchio… pretty but yucky. I don’t like the bitter taste at all.

    Jul 13, 2006 | 1:14 pm

  4. lee says:

    Ask the Pinoy housekeepers and cooks if they ever tried serving spaghetti with banana ketchup and hotdog bits to the Italians. Harhar

    Jul 13, 2006 | 1:36 pm

  5. millet says:

    have never seen such good-looking assortment of pears before!

    Jul 13, 2006 | 6:03 pm

  6. izang says:

    pinolian?!!!……herherher…nice one…

    write the book, MM…..i’ll be the first in line…..

    Jul 15, 2006 | 12:18 pm

  7. Marianne says:

    Hey MarketMan,

    You’ve been featuring place I grew up around or knew of! And it makes me sigh with nostalgia. I was born in Rome and I lived there for 17 years, but I have back in Manila with my family since the early 90s.

    Ponte Milvio was where we did our Saturday grocering, year after year. I wonder if the Pizza al taglio place, where we got the best pizza margherita and pizza bianca is still there on the square. We bought our fruits, vegetables, and flowers there, some seafood when it was good, bread from the Alimentari… and then grabbed a quick coffee before rushing home to cook.

    My skills as a cook are belated, but I credit my knowledge of cuisine to growing up and traveling around Europe throughout my childhood.

    Keep the entries coming, MM! One of these days, do try making a radicchio risotto with a bottle of Barolo and bone marrow! Or have you already? As for artichokes…one of these days, if I spot them again in Santis I’ll buy some, bake them with olive oil, herbs (de provence, hahaha) and bread crumbs, and eat it in your honor. :)


    Jul 17, 2006 | 9:32 am


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