One of Michael’s colleagues told him that the best farmer’s market in Rome is near Vatican City, so Monday, I set out to find it. I walked for two hours, got lost in the little streets surrounding Vatican City, and missed the market altogether—rats! To top it off, when I took my shower later that day, the power went out just as I was rubbing conditioner into my hair! Cold shower for me—yikes! With Michael coaching me by phone, I got the power back on and started drying my hair only to have my beloved Tunisian hair dryer conk out—argh! What a day!
But that was Monday. Tuesday? Wonderful day! IFAD designated Eid al-Fitr, the holiday that marks the end of Ramadan, as an official holiday, so Michael had the day off. Determined to find the alleged best farmer’s market in Rome, Mercato Trionfale, we charted our course on my cell phone and headed out. An hour later, we found it—I’d missed it by one block on Monday! Mercate Trionfale is fabulous, HUGE, and much cheaper than the market at Campo dei Fiori! A covered market in which some 270 vendors sell their vegetables, fish, meat, mozzarella, and luggage (I’m not kidding), Trionfale occupies one entire city block and goes on forever!
My favorite stalls were the fish stalls. I’ve never heard of some of the fish they sell there. I love grilled skate, but I may never be able to eat one again: their little faces looked so sweet! At one stand with the nicest (and most gorgeous) proprietress, we bought zucchinis, tiny string beans, carrots (fingers crossed that they’re as good as the Tunisian carrots), parsley, and basil. At other stalls we bought peaches and tomatoes. I was looking forward to a really good dinner last night!
As we were leaving, we discovered that the 23 bus, which stops right outside our door on its journey north and just across the river on its journey south, stops on the first cross street east of Mercato Trionfale. This is great news for me, because I can go to Trionfale whenever I want and not worry about overloading my market bag. We caught the bus home and unloaded our bag, and Michael settled in to work for the rest of the day.
At 6 p.m. or so, Michael walked into the living room and said, “I want to go to the bar at Piazza Farnese and have a prosecco.” Never one to turn down a prosecco, I jumped up and changed my clothes, and we were off. We had a prosecco and some nibbles, and then we sauntered a couple of blocks past Campo dei Fiori to Corso Vittorio Emmanuele and followed it to Piazza Argentina, a major transit stop for buses and trams. I said, “Let’s go left up this street,” and we did, and guess where we ended up: the Pantheon! Well, duh! After we visited the Pantheon, we decided to have a glass of wine at one of the little bars in Piazza della Rotunda. The weather couldn’t have been nicer—warm with a nice breeze—and I think all of Rome must have been out promenading last night.
While we were having our wine, I suggested that we just find a nearby restaurant and have dinner, and Michael agreed. So off we went. We circled Piazza Navona but didn’t find anything that called our names. I remembered seeing a little trattoria south of Campo dei Fiori, and we decided to try to find it. We did, and what a trip!
The owner, Paola Fazi, greeted us at the door of Trattoria der Pallaro, flirted with Michael a little bit, and showed us to our table. She’s a vision, with her dishtowel turban and a blue rubber glove on her right hand, and you just know that she rules the place with an iron fist. We sat down, put our napkins in our laps, and were startled when the waiter showed up with a bottle of water and a pitcher of white wine. He than brought us plates of tomatoes in olive oil, lentils, prosciutto and salami, olives, croquettes of some sort, and bread. We still hadn’t seen a menu. We were then served a bowl with two kinds of pasta: rigatoni with tomato sauce and rigatoni with cream and speck. By then we’d gotten the picture: home-style cooking at a fixed price of 25€ (about $40). For our secondi piatti, the waiter served us roast pork, bocconcini (little mozzarella balls), zucchini, and outstanding potato chips. Dessert was a marmalata cake and marinated peaches. I had room for the peaches but not the cake. No menu and no bill! When we were ready to leave, the waiter just told us how much we owed. The food was good and certainly plentiful, and we had such a good time! I felt like we were eating in someone’s home.
Seems like a good way to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, doesn’t it?