After a lot of research and sifting through blogs, I compiled a list of Rome’s food markets before my travels and made it my mission to visit as many of them as I could in 3 days. I made it to 5. Why not more? Because Rome is HUGE and these markets are spread out across the city. Venturing to as many of them as possible is not for the faint of heart. However, I can confidently say that my self-guided food market ‘tour’ allowed me to become comfortable and familiar with the city’s public transportation system in a matter of 48 hours. This post is meant to give you an idea of what to expect at each market and what major attractions are near to them, so that you may conveniently visit these warehouse wonderlands and experience grocery shopping in an old world, Italian fashion.
#1 Campo de’Fiori
The Campo de’Fiori is essentially a bustling piazza that may very well be the first stop for foodies in Rome. It had been on my bucket list since Nancy Silverton mentioned it in her episode of Chef’s Table. In the center of it all is a marketplace filled with tents. Here, you’ll find vendors with crème liquors, balsamic vinegars, oils, pastas, seasonings, produce and other trinkets. The reputation of the Campo de’Fiori, unfortunately didn’t quite meet my expectations, given what I had read about the produce featured here. This is possibly due to the date of my arrival (one day after Christmas). Regardless, this was an exhilarating area to visit, as the piazza was lined with busy restaurants, including the lovely Obica. In any direction exiting the plaza, the colorful city streets led to more magnificent piazzas and monuments. Visiting the Campo de’Fiori can easily be worked into your sightseeing, as it is only a 10 minute walk from the Pantheon and Trevi Fountain.
Piazza Campo de’Fiori, 00186 Roma RM, Italy
#2 Nuovo Mercato Esquilino
Esquilino Market was one of the most abundant markets I found. Produce, grains, spices, fish and meat – mostly halal – filled the warehouse wall to wall. This was certainly NOT a tourist attraction. When I asked most of the vendors if it was possible for me to photograph, they said no. However, they did offer many samples of great produce and sweets – which is why ended up wandering through Rome with a kilo of lychees (for 1.75 euros!) in my backpack. Esquilino’s market for food is directly next to a second warehouse full of other vendors selling clothes, fabric, bags and other typical items. The market is about a 20 minute walk from the Coliseum. This may be a bit far (especially if it’s pouring rain when you’re hoping to visit), however, bus lines 70, 71 and N18 stop just a couple blocks from the building.
Via Filippo Turati, 160, 00118 Roma RM, Italy
Hours: Monday, Wednesday and Thursday: 8am-3pm, Tuesday, Friday and Saturday: 8am-5pm, Sunday: Closed
#3 Mercato Centrale
Mercato Centrale, located in the Termini train station, was not on my original list of markets to visit, but I was thrilled to have run into this place. This is unlike the other markets in that there are no vendors selling items to stock your kitchen. Rather, Mercato Centrale is essentially a food court. I would approximate a couple dozen counters offering Italian classics, as well as street food style items (my favorite). My first time trying arancini (fried rice balls with various fillings) was at Mercato Centrale – it did not disappoint.
Mercato Centrale is only a few minutes away from Nuovo Mercato Esquilino, so try killing two birds with one stone if you venture out here. I promise it’s worth it and makes for an affordable meal.
Via Giovanni Giolitti 36, 00185 Rome, Italy
Hours: Sunday-Saturday: 8am-12am
#4 Mercato dell’Unita
Mercato dell’Unita is located near Vatican City. I made this stop here on my way to visit St. Peter’s Square – about a ten minute walk. Once again, this isn’t a tourist attraction, so you’ll be lucky to see more of the every day items that Roman’s are stocking their pantries with. Despite the fact that I arrived rather late in the day in terms of market hours, I got a feel for the authentic Roman shopping experience – a fantastic produce selection, seafood vendors and flower vendors. Dell Unita was similar to Esquilino in this regard and in that vendors preferred me to not take photos. Sorry – nothing to show for this one, guys. As a tourist, I always try to be respectful and adhere to their requests.
Via Cola di Rienzo, 245, 00192 Roma RM, Italy
Hours: Monday-Saturday: 7am-6pm, Sunday: Closed
#5 Testaccio Market
Testaccio Market was another market I arrived later to. Boy, was I sorry, because this clearly had one of the highest numbers of stalls and greatest variety. While people were mostly closing up shop by 2:30 pm, several cafe stalls remained open. Testaccio Market does not only house food sellers, but plenty of artisan goods shops. The coolest part of Testaccio? It’s in an open air, outdoor structure. The city’s tram stops about 10 minutes walking from the market, so it’s relatively accessible from the rest of the city.
Via Beniamino Franklin, 00118 Roma RM, Italy
Hours: Mon-Sat: 7am-3:30pm
#6 Piazza Navona Christmas Market
I’m adding a #6 to the list! This doesn’t quite count as a food market, but it shouldn’t be overlooked. Piazza Navona holds a Christmas market, operating even several days after December 25th. Mostly made up of stalls selling artisan goods, I saw some of the most artistic Christmas tree ornaments of all time. I regret not picking these up as souvenirs, along with nativity scene pieces. A few booths offered Italian candy and sweets. Even if you don’t buy anything, the Piazza is a magical place to saunter through at night, with the bright lights of carousel, fountains and cafes that assemble a child-like experience. Piazza Navona is settled right in the middle of the tourist center of Rome, you’ll undoubtedly run into this bustling plaza at least once. I managed to stop here on my way to the Pantheon and Trevi Fountain.
Piazza Navona, 00186 Roma RM, Italy
Take a look at the pins on this map to give you an idea of where these locations are relative to each other and the major districts of Rome.
1) Campo de’Fiori
2) Nuovo Mercato Esquilino
3) Mercato Centrale
4) Mercato dell’Unita
5) Testaccio Market
6) Piazza Navona Christmas Market