In order to ensure appropriate maintenance, the Environmental Protection Department ordered the closure of Corviale Farmers’ Market in via Marino Mazzacurati 75 in July 2015. Since then the market has been closed and there are no information about a re-opening.
In the former covered marketarea in Corviale, abandoned for years, about two and a half years ago started the third farmers’ market in Rome, after San Teodoro’s one and the one moved from ex-Mattatoio to Passino in Garbatella neighborhood. As the other two, the farmers’ market in Mazzacurati road strengths are the short “supply chain” (directly from producers to consumers), local products (everything comes from the neighborhoods) and the direct relationship, that allows you to investigate how fruits, vegetables and farm animals are raised, beyond any certification.
A walk through the stalls
So, if you talk to Maurizio and his wife Anna from Casale di Martignano, you can find out which animals their hand-cut ham has been produced from, what ingredients have been used to bake their apricot jam tart, how their peppers jam is made or how they feed the hens whose eggs they sell. While the Casale di Martignano products smell of the “lake breeze”, those of the farm Terraroma smell of Maccarese sea. The offer here is dairy products, including ricotta, mozzarella, caciotte stracchinate, caciocavalli (all typical Italian cheeses, just taste to understand the differences!)
Almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, chestnuts both fresh and dried are the main products of Carla Onofri’s farm, who sends her husband Lorenzo and their son to Corviale on Saturday, so that she can go to Viterbo market. Located at the foot of Cimini mountains, the farm also produces wine and olive oil.
And yet Sabrina and Enrico’s fruits, vegetables and legumes from Viterbo, Fiorenzo and Carla’s bufala dairy products from Cerveteri (mozzarella but also some yogurt, ricotta, baked ricotta, stracciatella, burrata, smoked cheese and butter), and Giulio’s flour, breads and pastries from the province of L'Aquila, sold both here and at Garbatella farmers market.
Among the most curious stalls, we cannot forget to mention Alberto Maria Firotto, herbalist and follower of Tibetan and Chinese traditional medicine, who has been studying the properties of herbs for the well-being of mind and body for more than thirty years. Last but not least, Elda, the artisan, dressmaker for women, men's shirts maker and repairs. You bring her something to repair on Saturday and get it back the following week.
“Well, I have a problem with tasting. Maybe everyone has it, I don’t know, but, me, in front of tasting, I really can’t manage.
It often happens at markets with direct producers, who prepare those beautiful trays with sliced ham, cheese cubes, olives, pieces of bread with olive oil and all those toothpicks that seem to be standing there just for you to catch them.
So, in front of those stalls, I really don’t understand anything anymore and I just keep on filling my mouth one bite after another.
Mummy told me over and over again that those are tastings for many people, that you are just supposed to ‘taste’ and not eat them all, but I can’t help it. To take me away from a tasting stall there is only one option: buy me a nice big chocolate ice cream. So it ends with a (sweet) bang”.
Just around the corner
The farmers’ market is one of the most evident signs of the rebirth of Corviale. The neighborhood’s history is strictly related to the one of SERPENTONE (literally, big snake), a “monster” for its many detractors, the longest horizontal skyscraper in Europe, for those who believed in the utopia behind it and in the spirit that remained throughout all its difficulties.
It’s actually a social housing experiment unique in Italy: the dream of putting together 1,200 apartments extending for a kilometer length, with common areas, theatres, schools and a floor full of shops. An experiment which failed, to be straightforward. Among the many reasons, also the long elapsed time (the project is dated back in 1972, the first homes were delivered only 10 years later), which led many people to occupy illegally the empty spaces still under construction: as on the fourth floor, the one which was supposed to be dedicated to commercial initiatives. A big defeat both professional and human for Mario Fiorentino, the architect who aimed at changing the appearance of Roman suburbs, which went through “wild” building throughout the ‘60s.
When he started to build, he had to avoid the comparison with Le Corbusier and his “housing units”, while, as the project went on, he had to defend himself from the charges of creating a “monster”, an inhuman hive, which – according to many – had even an impact on Rome’s micro climate, apparently blocking the “ponentino”, a typical breeze coming from west to cool down Romans summer evenings.
The original idea was to replicate the ancient imperial walls’ majesty to mark the western border of the city and at the same time to welcome those arriving from Agro Romano. In fact, still today the Serpentone stands on a hill overlooking a beautiful valley of twentieth-century villas. And who gets there feels the same astonishment of Pippo Franco (Italian comedian) getting there by car with his whole family in a movie in 1983: “Happiness, after all, is a house with 15 thousands next door neighbors” he exclaimed.
The joke is taken from the movie “Evicted person looking for social housing”, a rough satire that has certainly not contributed to the popularity of Corviale. A name used by many Romans – most not even able to locate it on a map, because they have never been there – as a synonym for “slums”. But perhaps this bad reputation has contributed to strengthen that pride and sense of belonging that were at the origin of Fiorentino’s urban utopia: so, the clichés used to denigrate Corviale have ended up creating “common features” to connect among them Corviale’s inhabitants and, lately, there is a number of initiatives around Corviale to give dignity and new vitality to the neighborhood. Among these it’s worth mentioning – in addition to the farmers’ market – the city library, entitled to the city council member Renato Nicolini, and MITREO, space for contemporary art and cultural meeting point. Ironically, the official opening of Mitreo was animated by the actor Stefano Antonucci, who has worked in hundreds of movies, fictions and commercials: well, in “Evicted person looking for social housing” mentioned above, he was the Social Housing Institute employee filing Pippo Franco’s application below the 80 thousands requests received for a slot in Serpentone.
Corviale rebirth can also be represented by another story: that of CAMPO DEI MIRACOLI (literally, miracles field). It’s a story started around a ball, created and re-written every day by the Calciosociale (literally, social soccer) association and its boys: a way to kick away disability, drug problems or social discomfort through teamwork. Trademark of the association are the rules of the football tournaments they organize: no one can score more than three goals, the top scorer award goes to those who give most assists, the rigors are pulled by the weakest of the team, there is no referee to whistle (the captains of the two teams playing are the ones settling the disputes).
Since they started to work on abandoned playgrounds, in July 2009, those of “Calciosociale” have managed to dribble past all obstacles, engaging a testimonial as Francesco Totti and succeeding in bringing to Corviale the FIFA world Cup original trophy, along with four former champions of the world.
And it’s not a coincidence that the opening of the new field will be during “Rome Open House”, an international festival which opens the doors to hundreds of buildings of architectural interest for two days, in 20 cities of the world. The fact that, since a couple of years, Serpentone is included in this list finally makes justice to its creator, and gives a smile to its inhabitants. There are many new challenges, such as creating the largest urban roof garden along its two and a half kilometers: it would be a good reason to appreciate this giant of steel and concrete, rather than imaging it take off as the spaceship sung by Max Gazzé in his “Eclissi di periferia” (suburban eclipse) dedicated to Corviale.
|where||via Marino Mazzacurati 75
(in front of the library)
|open||Saturday, h 8:30 – 18:00 and Sunday , h 8:30 – 14:30 (closed in August)|
|BUS||from Termini Railway Station Line 889|
|metro||LINE A (cornelia station)|