Piazza San Cosimato market is open since the beginning of ‘900 (it’s already mentioned as ‘covered market’ in a town council resolution in 1913) and many of the sellers actually descend from the first vendors and are up to the third generation of fruits, vegetables, cheese, fish or meat providers to the inhabitants of Trastevere or to the many tourists who prefer to rent a house (and therefore go food-shopping) instead of staying in a hotel.
A Walk through the stalls
Throughout the years, many things happened to the market. For a couple of years, it has been moved to Piazza Mastai, to allow the restructuring of San Cosimato square, officially opened in 2006. The restructuring actually left many people unhappy: the inhabitants of Trastevere have not really appreciated the project by architect Lorenzo Pignatti Morano and have reported the deterioration of the square through petitions and committees (just take a look at the pavement which is all rutty) and also many sellers shake their heads sadly. “They have not involved us in the decision making process and the consequences are that mobile stalls flood any time it rains, there is a unique access to load and unload trucks and the limited traffic zone until 10 discourages those coming by car”.Despite the complaints, the market sellers don’t lose their smile when talking about the market itself, their customers or the goods they sell. “People still come to the market because they need to socialize and talk. At the supermarket it’s faster, but how sad” says Mrs. Giuliana Pettini who has inherited the stall of cheese and coldcuts from her father and will pass it on to her son Emiliano. He explains “ In the 80s we decided to specialize and focus on ‘delicatessen’ that we get directly from the producer”. So, you can find on their stall Camembert from Normandy, Fontina from the Alps, Occitan goat cheese, robiole from Langhe, French and Spanish cold cuts, pasta from Altamura.
The same happens at Franco’s fruits and vegetables stall. They call him the “boss” of the market. “The license belonged to my father’s aunt, then to my father and finally to me. My aunt only sold garlic and potatoes, but later we enlarged ourselves”.
There are many farmers’ stalls, selling fruits, vegetables and flowers from Velletri and Cori.
Among the fish stalls, the most ancient one is Menelik, on the square since the 20’s, while if you wish to buy meat, you can find steaks, domestic fowls, quails, eggs but also meat balls and ready-to-cook dishes at Mauro’s butchery.
Among the curiosities of the market, there is a used books stall and a corner selling high quality pet food, for the happiness of cats and dogs hanging around the square, which are quite many, thanks to a dedicated area next to the children’s park.
“This is one of my favorite markets! On the square there is a little playground for us kids… they had to renovate it several times and someone complains because they have put us in a ‘cage’, as they playground is surrounded by a fence. But I like it very much and I am happy when Mummy takes me there.
But what I like most is the pet food corner. The last time I went I met Zao and Carlotta, two lovely puppies. Zao had left his Mummy since two days only and therefore he would not get out of his owner’s jacket as he was cold and wanted some snuggles, while Carlotta was going wild on the square. But when her owner Roberta called her to take a picture she ran to us immediately”.
Have you ever seen around a white and yellow truck with a dachshund reading a book? Perhaps you have and probably you already know that it’s the moving bookshop OttoMassimo, with two bookseller ladies who bring books to the schools, even in those ones that are really far to reach. Now OttoMassimo has found a shelter, very close to the market. The goal is the same, there is some room to read a book but also to have a painting or drawing workshop.
When you go to the market, tell your Mommy to take you there. Ottomassimo booksellers deserve also another merit: in the little park I was telling you about they put a little bookcase with only one rule: you can take a book if you leave another one. But they told me to tell you something… if you want to give out one of your books, hand it to them in the bookshop, they will check it, fix it if needed and then put it on the bookcase outdoors.
Just around the corner
Without moving from S. COSIMATO square, you should take a look at the church which it’s named after. It’s the only church in the world – probably – with the name of a Saint who doesn’t exist! There is no evidence of a Cosimato in any calendar, but the explanation might be that the name comes from the merge of Cosma and Damiano (two martyrs, whom a sanctuary is entitled to in Fori Imperiali area) after whom was named also the adjacent monastery. The two courtyards are noteworthy and are now part of the Nuovo Regina Margherita hospital.
On the other hand, many churches in Rome are entitled to Mary. Not far from San Cosimato there is one of the most loved churches in the neighborhood, if not in the whole city: S. MARIA IN TRASTEVERE, in the corner of the beautiful and cozy square. Under the Fountain porch, decorated by a sumptuous mosaic, there are several Latin inscriptions. One deserves special attention: it was written by someone called Cocceius, former slave hired at the imperial court, for the wife Nice. Romantic and touching (but also enviable!) the memory of the beloved wife, forever engraved in marple: “lived with her 45 years and 11 days, without any argument”!
Not far from the market, you could visit another church dedicated to the Virgin Mary, S. MARIA ALL'ORTO. Built near the wall surrounding a garden, on which there was a little painting of Mary, who apparently made a miracle for a farmer devoted to her. The church became the seat of a confraternity putting together a number of guilds: farmers, breeders, cobblers, pasta makers. You will see this link with the jobs related to the market on the inscriptions and decorations inside the church, a devotion which survives up to date. The lucky visitor in town during Easter week should not miss the show of the “40 hours machine”, a monumental golden wood structure – the last existing in Rome – that on the Holy Thursday night is lightened up by more than 200 candles. Just a last note: on this altar, in 1945, the Mess was celebrated by a priest, Father Pietro, who became famous in Italy and in the whole world. It’s the priest interpreted by Aldo Fabrizi in “Rome, Open City”, directed by Roberto Rossellini, who choose this church for the scenes of his masterpiece.
|where||Piazza San Cosimato|
|open||Monday – Saturday, h 6:00 – 13:30|
|PARking||on Viale Trastevere, former Atac warehouse|
From Termini Railway Station, Line H