There is nothing worse than buying groceries on an empty stomach, especially when it is lunch hour in Rome. Every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., the vendors at Mercato di Campagna Amica del Circo Massimo gather a few blocks from Circus Maximus, selling everything from fresh produce and poultry to hot lunches on the private outdoor patio. It can be difficult to focus with all the smells, such as bread soaked in olive oil and the blend of parmigiana and red wine (all of which are available for sampling).
As is only natural, many visitors conclude their grocery shopping with a full meal. On the patio, everyone seems like a local. The smells evolve from teasers to full-flavored entrees. During my time in Rome, my go-to was the meatballs with pasta or greens, always served with bread, though visitors can also select from soups, sandwiches, freshly squeezed juices and more.
Mercato di Campagna Amica del Circo Massimo is nestled at the foot of the famous Palatine Hill, making it a site of convergence for locals and, increasingly, tourists as well. Though the language of choice is Italian, the market’s high energy makes it an ideal destination for any visitor, particularly those looking for a local experience. There are few places where people can meet both friends and strangers with similar ease, as well as stock up on their weekly goods. Whether it's a quick errand or an excuse to stop and smell the roses (which are, in fact, abundantly available at the flower stand), visitors here will find no shortage of Rome's community spirit.