Celio market


icona-alimentareIt’s tough to call it a ‘market’ because there are few stalls remaining, but the little Celio market in SS. Quattro road next to Colosseo appears in the official list of Rome’s district markets and has an important past.

Tra i banchi del mercato


Today you can find there Maurizio and Anna’s nice stall, the fish stalls of the brothers Federico and Marco, a Coldiretti fruits and vegetables stall and (to be really ‘generous’) the flowers stall at the corner of Querceti road.
“When the market was in Querceti road, it had up to one hundred stalls, but then with the opening of supermarkets they have decreased to just a few. But I cannot complain – says Maurizio, 55 years old, working at a market stall since he was 10 to carry over his fruit and vegetable sellers family tradition – To tell the truth, my father used to sell Bermuda grass for horses, but then I got back to fruits and vegetables”.What is impressive about Maurizio’s stall, with the help of  his wife Anna from Milan, is the accuracy and the research of ‘forgotten’ products, such as tenerume which is the last part made of leaves and tops of a variety of zucchini, “in slang it’s called grattaculo” teaches us Maurizio (literally ‘scratch ass’ ); few varieties of wild salad; Tuscan broccoli both for soup and to be pan fried.

08On Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, next to Maurizio’s stall appears the ‘refrigerated’ one by Federico and Marco. Their motto is “We work for hobby. The proof of the pudding is in the eating”. In fact the two brothers smile while serving their customers sea breams (fished or raised in Orbetello), fresh octopus, shrimps, squids. On the week days they are not at the market, they are working to provide fresh fish to restaurants and trattorie. 



Alice’s wonderland

“The first time I went to the little Celio market I was so small, I was just laying on Mummy’s tummy in a band. There was a lot of wind and Mummy had wrapped me in a scarf I was peeping out of. I was half sleeping and half looking around, and I was staring at this happy man telling the story of his vegetables. I have never seen such a small market anymore, but does it really matter? Small or big, I like the market… always”.



Alice’s recipe
Tenerume soup
If you find leaves and tops of this long zucchini variety, you can prepare a very good soup (hot in winter, just warm in summer).
Clean and wash the zucchini tops and leaves and boil them in salted water for approximately ten minutes. Fry a clove of garlic in a pan, add some (peeled) tomatoes and basil and let the sauce cook. When the tenerume has become soft, take it out with a skimmer, cut it in pieces and put it back in its water, pouring also the tomato sauce (take out the garlic before). When it starts boiling again, throw some small size pasta such as ditalini or broken spaghetti. If you want to cook it without pasta, you can then eat it with some toasts.

Just around the corner

ssquattrocoronatiThe network of roads (six on the east-west ax, three on the north-south ax) between Colosseum and the basilica of S.Giovanni in Laterano offers an extraordinary number of attractions.
The must is to start with the church after which is named the street hosting the market, SS. QUATTRO CORONATI. A building of austere beauty, which proves its past as a fortress of the Lateran Palace, when the latter was the seat of the papacy. The church has several records: the most antique bell tower remaining in Rome (IX century), the most antique fountain in town (a double basin carved into a unique marble block, decorating the beautiful courtyard) and the first female angels in Christian iconography, in a fresco in the apse known as “the ladies angels choir”.
But if you are looking for “first time” records the most curious one is painted in a fresco in a fumettochurch very close: S.CLEMENTE’s BASILICA. The building is on three levels, each as proof of a different period. The most appealing one seems to be the intermediate one, “stuck” between the current Baroque church and the ancient Republican age buildings. Here you can find the first ‘comic strip’ of all times. It’s the “legend of Sisinno”, described in the series of frescos about the Saint’s life, created in XI century. The story says that Clemente succeeded in Christianizing Teodora, the wife of Rome’s prefect Sisinno. But also – which was the worst thing for Sisinno – he convinced her to make a vow of chastity. So Sisinno sent his henchmen to arrest the Saint, but when they thought they had caught him and tied him up, thanks to a divine miracle, they ended up pulling a heavy column, encouraged by the prefect who – without shame – was screaming ‘sons of a b…. pull!” (“Fili de le pute, traite!” in original language). As a result, the first comic strip in history is also the first example of vulgar Italian language used in arts, two centuries before the stilnovo poets in Florence or the Sicilian ones at Federico II Emperor’s court.
Before taking some rest, maybe laying on the grass of villa Celimentana lawn or setting up a pic-nic with the products just bought at the market , there is a last stop at Mary’s niche at the crossroad between SS.Quattro and Querceti roads.
The “Holy Mary with child”, now ruined by the time and protected by a fence, is one of the oldest in Rome. On top of the artistic value, its fame is related to one of the most interesting legends in papessatown, the one of POPE GIOVANNA. There are tons of writings on the existence of one and unique female pope in Christianity, and even a few movies. According to tradition, a young English lady, wearing male clothes, succeeded in becoming a monk and went up into the Church hierarchy until she was appointed Pope in’853 with the name of Giovanni VIII. But the female pope didn’t observe chastity rule and ended up being pregnant. Until one day, during Easter procession just in front of S. Clemente basilica, her horse went crazy and the shock provoked her an early labor. she had to give birth at the corner of Querceti road and therefore her secret was disclosed, ending also her papacy. In the following centuries, many researchers have questioned the truth of this story, but someone in Catholic church must have taken it very seriously, as a female bust of Pope Giovanni was put next to all other Popes icons in Siena cathedral.

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DOVE via SS. Quattro
GIORNI DI APERTURA lunedì - sabato
ORARIO 7.00 - 14.00
PARCHEGGIO strisce blu in via di San Giovanni in Laterano
AUTOBUS dalla stazione Termini, Linea 64
METRO B (fermata Colosseo)
where via SS. Quattro
open Monday – Saturday h 7:00 – 14:00

From Termini Line 64


Line B – Colosseo