Once a month, more specifically the last Sunday of the month, in the morning, Santa Maria Consolatrice square in Casal Bertone hosts a farmers’ and crafts markets, while some local associations organize workshops, children events and a social lunch.
A walk through the stalls
The market is sponsored by terra TERRA (literally earth earth), an organization which believes in a short supply chain, in product quality and seasonality, as well as in the need of treating all farmers equally. In addition to Casal Bertone market, terra TERRA organizes some markets at Forte Prenestino (Prenestino district, Centocelle) every Thursday afternoon and the third Sunday of the month, at SCUP (via Nola) every Thursday morning, at Città dell'Utopia (Ostiense district) the third Saturday of the month, at Acrobax center (Ostiense district) every time the “all reds” play, and, last but not least, at Corto Circuito (Cinecittà) the first, second and fourth Saturday of the month. Click here to see the schedule
“We leverage on local committees or social centers which aim at starting a food path in their own neighborhood – tells us Fabrizio, cheese producer from Orvieto – we are approximately 30 operators mainly from Lazio, Umbria and Abruzzo, even though we have opened the market to farmers coming from the South who struggle to sell their products there”. Such as Massimo, citrus fruit farmer from Piana di Sibari in Calabria and rural sociologist in Rome, whom we had met with at Certosa Biomarket already. Then, Rosa coming from Aprilia with her veggies and her delicious minestrone ready to cook; Mario from Prenestine hills with his honey and royal jelly; Rose with her naturals cosmetics (soaps, creams, cleaning lotions made of bran, aloe, lavender, myrtles, citrus, propolis); Gisella with her wool creations, Valeria with her bakery products; Fiorenzo, who moved from Sicily twenty years ago and now lives in Olevano Romano. “I come from Palermo, but I moved to the Roman countryside, where I have a farm, I make marinated vegetable and I prepare dry aromatic herbs. Then, in the kitchen, I cook typical Sicilian dishes, arancine (fried rice balls plain or stuffed with meat sauce), Palermo’s sfincione (a sort of pizza with onions)… then I work as gardener and I teach children to play guitar… I never stop!”.
The peculiarity of this market is certainly the relationship with local associations: as of today terra TERRA activities are supported by Anpi association Zaccaria Verucci, Bi.Pop theatre, the social center Strike and the occupied garages ex Rsi. “We plan a day which is not only a market – explains Diego – terra TERRA takes care of the farmers, while we organize some events, encouraging a new way of living the neighborhood, but also demonstrating antifascism, as there is a branch of Casa Pound (literally Pound house, a social center of semi-fascist inspiration) close by. In addition to the market, there is always a cultural offering: street artists, the Titubanda orchestra and also a social lunch, made with the market products”.
So the morning ends around the table: orecchiette (literally little ears, a kind of hand-made pasta), lentils soup, roast beef with vegetable sauce and mini-quiche with potatoes, leeks and cheese. Enjoy!”
“I know exactly what I want to do when I grow up. I want to be a dancer, a singer, a doctor, a teacher and a florist. But when I went to terra TERRA market, I actually changed my mind. The market was nice, yes, but I’ve seen so many of them: colored, lively, full of nice people who always give me a piece of something for free. But then, what really impressed me, were two things. One, the juggler… amazing. He would throw his clubs up in the air, catch them with his nose and make them circle in a beautiful way. Then, Titubanda arrived, an orchestra made of special musicians: apart from one with a big drum, they all played wind instruments and they were wearing funny clothes, not like the ones a real orchestra wears. But their music was beautiful and I danced a lot. So I made up my mind and when I grow up I want to be a juggler or a Titubanda musician. Or maybe a ballerina, a singer, a doctor, a teacher or a florist”.
Just around the corner
The square hosting the market takes its name from the church, built under Second World War bombs and later home to a German priest called Joseph, simply “don Giuseppe” for Casalbertone inhabitants, Benedict for the whole world. Benedict XVI, to be precise. The Pope, who will go down in history for his resignation, has been cardinal at SANTA MARIA CONSILIATRICE for 16 years, since 1977 to 1993. “A very simple man, one of us” tell the ones living in the neighborhood where Ratzinger went back for his first official visit as Pope in December 2005. At that time he addressed his Christmas wishes to the faithful, under the benevolent eyes of the “Good Pastor”, the mosaic decorating the church portal. This masterpiece deserves a few words, not only for its artistic value, but also for the peculiar artist who created it in 1975. His name, Ugolino from Belluno, seems ancient but, as for Benedict, it’s not his first name. It’s the monk name for Silvio Alessandri, a religious man coming from Belluno who studied art while living in the Capuchin monastery, learning both from the wisdom of the Church fathers and from the masters De Chirico and Severini. The latter – one of the Futurism founders – taught him the mosaic art, technique which Ugolino used to decorate apsis and facades of many churches in Italy. His most curious masterpiece is in Sacro Cuore parish in Terni where the Russian leader Gorbaciov and his wife Raissa sit next to Pope Wojtyla. A tribute to two very important characters of the century and their role in the knocking down of the walls in Eastern Europe. It’s probably the first time that a high representative of Communism ends up next to the altar, enlarging the group of Saints.
The church is the spiritual heart of the neighborhood, while the symbol of Casalbertone is a couple of deer. The elegant shape of the two animals in front of PALAZZO DEI FERROVIERI (literally, railway men building) in de Cristoforis square catches the eye of a driver crossing through these roads by chance. First of all, for the grace of the sculpture, a touch of prettiness in an area where most of the buildings make us regret when social housing was nice to see, in addition to good for living. But you have to stop and look at them carefully to notice a detail which really makes them different: the deer don’t have horns. OK, it could be a couple of female deer, but it’s actually not as simple as that. Nor the neighborhood rumors or stories are so easy. Here’s the word of mouth: the houses were built in 1929 for those employed by the railways, in this area between Termini and Tiburtina station. At the time, the deer still had horns and the railway men had a job close to their home. So far, so good but… railway employees don’t only work at the station, they often have to travel, even for long journeys. So, when they used to come back home, hugging their wives should have been the happiest moment, but it often turned into a time of suspects, teasing by the neighbors, jealousy. Many thought those big horns showing off on those high columns were (maliciously) welcoming back the husbands who stayed away from their wedding bed. So, in a short time, the “railway men palace” was nicknamed “cuckolded palace”. To make a long story short, to solve the problem, they decided to cut the horns off.
The last tip is for something that is not there (yet). Something new, that Rome never had before: a “green apple”. Casalbertone has been selected for the project “Cat-Med” together with 10 other area in different European cities. It should become the first eco-sustainable area of the Capital, with special care for public trasportation, social areas, construction materials and consumptions. What does the “green apple” have to do with it? It’s just a silly translation mistake. The project, co-funded by the European Unione and officially listed in Malaga declaration, which defines Casalbertone as “Manzana Verde”: but in Spanish “manzana” means not only “district” but also “apple”. It’s not a tribute to New York, even though some areas of the “Big Apple” would be a good practice to follow. And also, the American experience shows that even as a logo, the apple, is very successful!
|where||Piazza di Santa Maria Consolatrice|
|open||Last Sunday of each month, morning hours|
|PARking||around the square or in the neighboring streets|
Line 75 from Termini Railways station; Line 83 from Piazza Venezia
|metro||Line B, stop Tirburtina + bus line 409|