We had a choice of going to the most famous Roman market, Campo dei Fiori, or to Volpetti, a fine foods store recommended by Europe expert Rick Steves. Unfortunately, I chose Volpetti because it was late when we got ready to go (and I didn't know that the market in Camp dei Fiori lasted through the day) and I thought the Testaccio market next to Volpetti wouldn't be much different from that in Campo dei Fiori. I was wrong, because the Testaccio market was small and Volpetti, although a wonder store, was overpriced.
Black truffles and salami.
We preferred meat suppli to rice suppli.
Pizza rossa (tomato pizza) is lovely but I found Volpetti's pizzas not as good as those in the regular pizza shops. Pizzas in shops are usually sold by weight.
On the left, toppings were anchovies and zucchini flowers and on the right, potatoes. Superb flavors!
We spent hours in Volpetti, picking up parma ham, black truffles (I bought two only for about 30 euros each; Hub was to bring them home while I stayed back in Europe for another 6 weeks), truffle salts, a couple of cheeses and unusual canned food. After the damage to our credit cards, we walked by the Testaccio market again (only 1 block away from Volpetti) and I realized that everything we bought in Volpetti was more expensive than those in the market. The prosciutto hams especially were much cheaper and the locals all shopped in the market. They seemed to prefer prosciutto crudo instead of parma. I sampled both prosciutto crudo and parma and couldn't tell the difference. I must tell you about the salami. Since I wasn't very familiar with cured meats, I bought two kinds of salami, one with a white coating and another without. The salami without the white coating was excellent, fresh, sweet and wonderful but the white one was too hard and strongly flavored. If I knew that salami can be so tasty, I would've saved all my luggage space for it. I also picked up excellent grana padano, pecorino and Parmesan in Pisa, my port of exit. The grana padano especially was surprisingly savory-sweet and smelled fantastic, without the stink of baby vomit like the ones we get at home home. Good grano padano is only about 9 euros per kg in Italy and it was an Italian in Pisa who told me that a good grano padano is just as good as any other fancier Parmesan. That was quite a tip for me. The cookbooks always tout prosciutto parma and parmigiano reggiano but the Italians themselves use proscuitto crudo and grano padano, which are cheaper.
Tomatoes from Sicily are the best, I was told, and this stall in Testaccio market sold only Sicilian tomatoes. I asked for the best, and the friendly Italian guy gave me a couple to sample. So sweet of him.
I love the fountains in Italy where you can drink from and wash your fruits and veggies.
I bought enough to last me a year or two.
Did you know that rocket (arugula) grows wild in Italy? Seems like the only Italian veggie we hear and read about is rocket but, just as in China, there are so many other types of veggies that we don't know about.
Poor guy had to hand cut (I preferred thicker slices) 3 kgs of proscuitto crudo for me. I left Italy with 5 kgs of prosciutto, 1.5 kg of sun-dried tomatoes, 1/2 kg of dried porcini, 3 kgs of cheese, a couple of salami,1 kg of pancetta, a bottle of limoncello, a bottle of vin santo and 4 jars of white/black truffle salt.
If you want to visit a market in Rome, make sure it's the one at Campo dei Fiori. I hear it's as good as La Boqueria, if not more lively, because Campo dei Fiori is an open piazza.