Saturday, December 27, 2008

A last day in Rome

Campo de Fiori market

A final day wandering through the streets of central Rome on a cool winter's day saw lots more people enjoying a Saturday post-Christmas. Tourists from all over, but also families out to lunch.

Unexpectedly, we ran across a upscale vegetarian restaurant (Il Margutta) at lunch-time, and enjoyed selecting eggplant, grilled peppers, and other dishes (more vegetables than I'd seen in our entire trip).The market at Campo de Fiori was open, with vegetables and fruits from warmer parts of Italy and abroad. The varieties of lettuce and radicchio were grown nearby, though, and cheese, dried tomatoes, and nuts were also being offered.

The nicest balcony that we saw in an otherwise plant-challenged city

These dogs were enjoying an outing on the Spanish steps (Mocha would NOT like to have any sort of sweater, however, quite popular for well-dressed Roman dogs).

The view was nice from the hills above; Rome was quite peaceful on this post-Christmas visit.


  1. All that wonderful produce -- and the balcony gardens! Sigh... It must be hard to leave such a place. :)

  2. Italy's produce, cheese, and bread DID make our local supermarkets look rather "packaged" on my shopping trip this morning.

    But Rome wasn't a city filled with plants, to be sure; perhaps more in warmer weather. I loved the balcony, though, in the photo - definitely a plant lover.

  3. I lived in Rome on and off (Upstate the rest of the time) for several years until recently. Please do go back-- you just missed the green spaces in the city. There are several parks within walking distance of centro, in Trastevere, and the gorgeous, huge Borghese park and gardens just across the Piazza d. Republica. And plants are everywhere-- perhaps not as many this time of year right in centro, but get off the tourist beat and you'll see that almost every apartment balcony and tiny courtyard has something (usually a lot of something) growing from it. Romans in general love plants as they love their vegetables. And Campo dei Fiori is lovely but it's only one of many open air markets in Rome-- and the most tourist-oriented of all. And their supply of fresh produce-- even in December and January-- put us to shame here in our "four season" agricultural climate. Going to the farmers market here in December and knowing what I could find just off most any main thoroughfare in Rome is depressing. You just needed to spend more time there. Glad you found Marguta-- it's been there quite awhile and there are many other vegetable-oriented restaurants in Rome; indeed the cuisine is in general.

  4. Hi, CEN-
    Certainly, we'd love to go back, especially if scooters have been banned! It wasn't the best time for greenery, of course, and perhaps our impression wasn't on target for better times of the year. Hope you're still able to go back to Rome periodically.

    I was so impressed with the variety of things in 'normal' Italian markets, much less Campo dei Fiori -- you're right, it does put our markets to shame.

    Marguta WAS fabulous -- I've got a great cookbook called Red, White, and Green: the Italian Way with Vegetables, which I pulled out again. I'm thinking about trying to grow wild asparagus, probably too hard to obtain, but maybe from seed?


  5. I don't grow asparagus here-- I can't quite plan on being here long enough to get a harvest-- but I do grow the wild bulbless fennel that is used so much in Italy. I expect the below 20 temps this weekend will nip it even if covered though. I got curious about the availability of selvatica asparagus seed. I can't find a U.S. source -- my usual sources for Italian seeds don't carry it. Some sources do carry a wild asparagus but I'm not sure it's the same thing. Good luck with that. It's great stuff.

    Faith Willinger's Red,White,and Green is very good. I also like Viana La Place's Verdura for Italian vegetable recipes. And check out her charming "My Italian Garden" which gives a layout of her Italianate vegetable garden in San Francisco with recipes for each season. It's something of a fantasy for us since some of the things she grows wouldn't do too well here, but there are some great ideas we can try and it's so fun to read anyway.

    I've had great chioggia and treviso radicchio this fall/winter (protected in my hoop house) but lost my entire romanesco crop to some sort of mold/fungus that seems to have come with the rain(can't complain about that though).

    Hope we both make it back to Rome.
    As a historian, one of the fun things for me there is to walk through the ruins of ancient gardens to see what's managing to grow "wild" there now (besides the iconic feral cats!). Rome may be eternal but some plants are pretty tough too.

    And right on the motorini-- they don't call them "Vespe" (wasps) for nothing! However, better them than SUVs trying to navigate the streets.


I enjoy hearing from fellow nature lovers and gardeners. Let me know your thoughts.

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