Saturday ~ let’s go to the Market!

The Saturday morning market at Il Campo dei Fiori

Saturday is market day in Rome and most tourists have heard about the famous market in Campo dei Fiori. It is nice, but one of the oldest in Rome is the market in Testaccio—a working class neighborhood down from the Aventine Hill and across the Tiber from Trastevere.

The Testaccio market is housed in a building as opposed to being under tents in a piazza. It’s a good thing too, because it is raining harder than it was yesterday. We met our Roman friend Viviana just outside the market—I was ready to shop, but she wanted un caffè first. On this rainy and chilly morning, it was a great idea!

Warmed from our cappuccini (that’s plural for more than one cappuccino), we made our way into the market. Our shopping trip had purpose, Viviana is coming over Sunday to cook with me. She is going to show me a couple of very Roman dishes, one in particular, an old Jewish ghetto recipe that she learned from friends—fresh anchovies cooked with “shoestring” endive or indivia, as she called it. Plus, she is going to show me how to make a Puntarelle salad, something that will be impossible when I am back home.

The Testaccio market offers a lot—vegetables, meats, fish, cheese, bread, plus non-food items like shoes and purses. We headed into the market to find indivia, radicchio, acciughe and puntarelle.

One of the many butcher shops—macelleria. Notice the hanging lamb!

One of the many fruit and vegetable vendors

The triangular Roman Broccoli, which is really in the cauliflower family.

A pile of artichokes — bellissimi!

Puntarelle ~ already cleaned and ready to go. It has a most particular flavor—reminiscent of celery, but not exactly. Really wonderful to eat!

One of the many vegetable vendors


Radicchio—the round, like we have in America and "Treviso"—the oblong-shaped, which is difficult to find in American markets. The green below it is a wonderful "lettuce" or "green" that could be used for a salad.

Porchetta ~ a pork roast studded with garlic and herbs. Really good!

At the sausage and prepared meat vendors—salumeria, they had stuffed "capicola" into the shape of a pig. Hey, it's a meat shop!

One of the seafood vendors~and the lobsters were still moving!

We found our "acciughe"—anchovies. Here they are fresh and, most importantly, cleaned!

From the market we headed out to “Gatti”—a fresh pasta shop in Testaccio, where we purchased some fresh tortellini. I’ll be cooking those on Monday…that photo will be coming.

We crossed over into Trastevere to look for a place to eat lunch. It was around 12:30p, but most Italian restaurants, especially those that don’t cater to tourists, don’t open for lunch until 1:00-1:30p. We found our way into a bar and had an “aperitivo” first. I ordered an “Aperol”—an orange based liqueur, slightly bitter, that is classically served straight up over ice. Of course, you can get it as a “spritz”—a shot of soda water. Cocktails before lunch—how civilized!

A couple of cocktails later we found our way into Hosteria da Corrado, a simple restaurant where, once again, no menus and the waiter told you of the three or four selections for each course.

Mushroom ravioli in a white sauce—we had our choice of fillings and sauces.

The other ravioli was spinach—and for this we went with the red sauce.


I ordered the "involtini"—beef rolled around vegetables and a side of chicory, sauteed with garlic and peperoncini in olive oil.

We headed home for a much needed “riposo”—nap.

Tonight, we went to hear a colleague’s friend’s wife play a little bluegrass at a bar in the San Paolo neighborhood. On the way there, we stopped for pizza and then we went to Gelatoria Daniel Gelo’s for gelato. It is homemade there and the flavors were REALLY fresh and are made daily. Worth the trip!!

Once at the bar, we were in for a truly American treat in this VERY Roman neighborhood. “Mary and the Strays” were performing. Fantastic!! And you should check out their website—where you can listen to the music we enjoyed. Truly, visit their website and give Mary a listen! I wish I knew a song writing agent. Mary’s lyrics are so complex, smart and moving that I can see several Country artists performing her tunes. LISTEN NOW~


Mary and the Strays

That was my Saturday—this vacation is slowly becoming more about “living” in Rome and doing what the “natives” do, instead of trying to pack in all the sights. I am truly getting a flavor of the city and of the culture. PLUS, it is giving my basic Italian a run for its money!

Buona giornata e buon appetito~


*Next up is Sunday’s lunch—all the things we purchased at the Testaccio Market!







About the Author

Mark LeslieMark Leslie, seen cooking on NBC’s "The Today Show" and Hallmark Channel's "Home & Family," loves to cook for anyone with an appetite, vacations in Italy every year, and lives to eat his way through every plate of pasta and cone of gelato placed before him. His first book, “Beyond the Pasta: Recipes, Language & Life with an Italian Family,” tells of his life in Italy while cooking with an Italian grandmother. He shares his food experiences on his blog at and has taught cooking classes in California, Georgia, Minnesota, Texas, and across Alabama. While judging for high school culinary events, he was chosen by the US Department of Education to judge for their "National Education Startup Challenge." Mark can be regularly seen cooking on NBC-affiliate, WSFA-TV 12's "Alabama Live! each Friday, bringing easy, locally sourced recipes to central Alabama. His iTunes app “Beyond the Pasta” features helpful videos and more of Nonna’s family-style recipes that she shared with him, plus, upon its release, it was named “New & Noteworthy” by Apple. DaVinci Wines chose Mark as their "2012 Storyteller" in Language Arts—where they sent him to Vinci, Italy, to write about wine, food and life. Mark, his home and book have been featured in such national publications and blogs as House Beautiful, Paula Deen, Food Republic, The Kitchn, Apartment Therapy, Field & Stream, and The Daily Meal. A Chicago-area native and “Yankee” by birth, Mark has lived in Alabama for over 24 years, and celebrates the fact that he started life eating farina, progressed to grits, and finally arrived at polenta. Buonissimo!View all posts by Mark Leslie →

  1. Mark~ I am so excited for you. I will be in Rome in just a few weeks~ so I am making notes of your favorite places. The artichokes are beautiful…I can’t wait to get to Da Giggetto for their Carciofi alla Giudea.
    And of course, our favorite Gelato place is Gelateria del Teatro.

  2. VivianaViviana04-17-2012

    Sandi, sorry for intrusion….DO NOT GO to Giggetto, it’s a tourist trap, no more the great place used to be till 10/15 years ago… if you want to stay in the neighborhood, there are smaller places along the so- called “piazza” , from Portico d’Ottavia to Via Arenula…
    Or, cross the Tiber and the island and get to the quietest area of Trastevere, towards Santa Caecilia’s basilica….less touristical….Then if you want to have a Carciofo alla Giudia, go to “Piperno” still a great place, traditional and worth the name…

    • Mark LeslieMark Leslie04-17-2012

      Sandi, I would take Viviana’s word when it comes to places to eat in Rome. She knows best!

  3. ClaudiaClaudia04-17-2012

    Puntarelle? Can I grow it? I am greedy and lust after it all – but right now I am in such an artichoke state of mind. And in Minnesota. Not a good combination. Thanks for the virtual tour… which gave me more yearnings. Sigh.

    • Mark LeslieMark Leslie04-17-2012

      Ciao Claudia, I don’t think you can. You might want to do some research on line to find out, but I think it might be too cold in MN—unless you have a greenhouse. It is pretty fantastico!

  4. RozRoz04-18-2012

    This is an INCREDIBLE post about the Roman outdoor markets….just love it! I felt that I was right there in the midst of all of the sounds and aromas! I was just in a fabulous Italian market in the U.S. and will happily give them a plug to you. Please visit my blog to see my photo tour of “Mazzaros” . . . it is an Italian gem here in the States (although nothing like your tour and market). I respect your opinion and invite you to stop over to check out a tour of this great Italian market. Grazie, Roz (at ‘la bella vita’)

    • Mark LeslieMark Leslie04-18-2012

      Buon Giorno Roz!
      Grazie per le parole cortesi!
      I will definitely check out your blog and the market you recommend. Always good to have lots of Italian sources in the States~
      Buon Appetito,

"Beyond the Pasta" is owned and operated by Mark Leslie. Unless otherwise specified all content, writing, recipes and photography is original and held in copyright through the Library of Congress. It may not be used without the express written consent of Mark Leslie.