While the local market in Baccina road is slowly dying (there are only a household stall and a butcher left), in the last three and a half years a new market has opened up, bringing together, every weekend, craftsmen, artists and sellers under the name of MercatoMonti, urban street market since 2009.
A walk through the stalls
“The idea came from local retailers in order to get rid of their stocks – tells Bibi, MercatoMonti inventor together with Ornella – but short afterwards there has been a big evolution, involving artists, craftsmen and charities”.
Nowadays, walking around the convention hall of Palatino Hotel, listening to a deejay session often by Bibi himself, you can come across Mononoke clothes and accessories, wool creations, recycled materials bags (made with safety belts recovered from car wreckers) or bands and hairbands by Piera Crivelli, who wears ironically her elegant creations.
Approximately 30 stands, some of which don’t miss a date and others rotating. Almost always at the market, Salvatore Borrelli works with Plexiglas to create colored earrings, bracelets and necklaces matching fluo colors with metals, such as copper, bronze and brass.
Another soul of MercatoMonti is the vintage one, the one of research. If you are looking for original silk kimonos, you can find them at MercatoMonti, as well as modern design objects; vinyl records, cameras or records players at Valentina’s stall Dèjà Vu or at Camilla’s Vacca che russa (literally, snoring cow). And if you wish, you can even dress up as Marlene Dietrich or Marilyn Monroe at Bloody Edith Atelier.
Then there is also who does some research between present and past, as Giusto who defines himself as a “fashion buyer” and tries to “extract from new collections some items that we like most and bring back something from old collections by historical brands such as Vivienne Westwood, Jean Paul Gautier, Maison Martin Margiela”.
You can recognize the passion for design also in the different images, on the leaflets and cards, changing each week, announcing the next market date to customer and sellers.
“The first time I went to MercatoMonti I was really surprised. Usually Mummy takes me to markets where you can buy fruits and vegetables, fish or meat, while here I was seeing only sunglasses and little hats, strange bags and shoes and then funny things I had never seen before: a phone with a small wheel instead of the usual keys, a camera from which pictures came out as tongues stuck out of the mouth!
I like the market because I usually get something to eat: a banana, a bite of pizza… When I saw this market I thought: no snacks here. But I was wrong: there was a stall with these nice guys from Puglia, who were doing “fud desain”, which are two English words meaning ‘artistic food’ as Mummy explained me. They were serving a puree of broad beans and chicory in these beautiful bread baskets. Yummy!"
Broad beans and chicory puree
Below the recipe by the ‘nice guys’ working at Carta e Latte
The basket is made of tarallo dough (typical snack from Puglia), but it can be replaced by a little bread shape (in Italian, panino) from which you take out guts and slightly toast it in hoven. For the broad beans puree: put some olive oil, onions and sliced celery in a pan, let them fry for a few minutes, add the dry broad beans (after keeping them in water for an hour to and draining them), add some water and let them cook. Take out the first ‘foam’ that comes up, add some water if needed and cook for a couple of hours until it becomes a puree.
Aside, boil some clean chicory and drain it (in Puglia we use wild chicory!).
Broad beans puree and chicory are usually served in the same plate but separate, then anyone can pick if eating them separately or mixed, with a few drops of saint oil (olive oil with peppers) and a big slice of toasted bread (or in a bread basket).
Just around the corner
Monti heart is no doubt the beautiful square of Madonna dei Monti, while its main street is via Cavour (which actually breaks the area in two and it also kind of breaks the ‘magic’), which most obscure and mysterious part passes below a dark arch, on a hill entitled to the Borgias. Here is the so called LUCREZIA BORGIA’s BALCONY, where many stories and legends took place. The advice is to put aside the historical rigor and follow the legends, as Lord Byron used to do in early nineteenth century, wandering by night in Rome streets and stopping under the balcony where he used to imagine the beautiful and cruel daughter of Pope Alexander VI standing. Lucrezia was actually attending her brother Juan’s last supper, organized by the mother Vannozza on June 14,1497, three days before Juan’s young body was found in Tevere river.
But an aura of death surrounds this corner of the city long before the Borgias: the hill actually follows the path of the ancient vicus sceleratus, so called because, according to the story, the body of Servius Tullius – sixth king of Rome – was stepped on by the chariot driven by his daughter Tullia right after the murder, by the hands of her father-in-law Lucius Tarquinius. Once completed the conspiracy, he would sit on the throne with the title of "Superb".
The best way to shake off these gloomy suggestions is to climb the stairs and pass the arch, reaching San Pietro in Vincoli square. The church has this name because it stores the chains that were used to tie the apostle during his imprisonment in Rome.
The most popular attraction is in the right transept: the statue of the MOSE' DI MICHELANGELO. Any description would be redundant: we leave to you the pleasure of looking at one of the master’s best works, to cross his severe look, and maybe try to identify the profile of Pope Julius II among the thick beard folds, or the female body which Buonarroti carved just below the lower lip, according to another legend. It’s needless to look for signs or scratches on the prophet’s knee, even if no one will be able to uproot from popular imagination the story of the sculptor throwing a scalpel against his creature and shouting "Why don’t you speak?", after having noted its exceptional realism.
There are many other legends in a district as Monti, one of the most proudly "popular" in town. Legendary are also the jokes of Marchese del Grillo (literally, cricket marquis), a character who truly existed, as proved by the palace and the tower still bearing his name, behind Traiano’s markets.
From the top of his tower, Onofrio del Grillo – a noble from Marche region, who lived in Rome in the eighteenth century – used to enjoy throwing rocks and pine cones on those passing-by, with fierce predilection for Jews. Another authentic "monticiano" (literally, from Monti), although born in Tuscany, shot the movie with Alberto Sordi, which moves the Marquis’ bravado to the early nineteenth century and makes them immortal: Mario Monicelli, who dedicated to the district also a documentary, his last work as director.
The eccentric spirit of the Marquis seems to hover around its properties still today: climbing a few steps the Grillo hill, a curious sign on your right invites you to press a switch. We suggest you just follow the temptation of pressing the button: behind a grating at street level, you will see coming to life under your eyes a sculpture of objects, lights and music, by the artist Saverio Ungheri, founder of the " astralista movement" and since 1976 animator of the cultural center "Pulsating Lung".
|where||via leonina 46 / 48|
|open||Saturday and sunday|
|PARking||hard in via cavour (blue lines)|
from Largo Argentina, Line 40, Metro B (Cavour stop)