For some years the stalls – which had been placed all along Tor di Quinto avenue since 1982 – moved in a sort of shopping mall, where 74 businesses have found a place on the first floor, while the others – including a game room for children and a bar – have been “kicked away” from the second floor by the electronics store Trony, opened in 2011.
A walk through the stalls
“The move has certainly penalized us, only the ones with a stable and loyal customer base as ours can still survive”. The one talking is Mrs Silvana, born in 1945, fruit and veg seller for family tradition, cleaning artichokes at her stall every day and available to give out some recipes (“the artichokes stems are very soft, you can make a sauce for your pasta, fill the tomatoes and bake them… I will explain you how”) and tell stories about the market and her family. “My mother was born in Trastevere, then took over a stall on Giulio Cesare avenue which then turned into Trionfale market and finally got at Ponte Milvio square. When I remained widow with 3 children I was 27 years old and the license passed on to me”. Next to Silvana’s and her daughter Ornella’s stall, there is the one belonging to Anna and her husband; she has also inherited the business from her mother and she also leverages on loyal customers and on the quality of supply to hold out against crisis.
Ponte Milvio market is a ‘refined’ market where next to seasonal fruits and vegetables (some shops are bio certified farmers) you can find exotic products (such as mangos, avocados, lime) or rare ones as truffles and also ready-to-cook ingredients (puntarelle, clean artichokes, vegetables for ribollita, mixed salad). On top of fishmongers with any kind of products, butcheries offer very appealing ready-to-cook dishes, as well as traditional meat cuts. Artibani butcher, for example, proposes Danish beef steaks wrapped in Colonnata lard, tirolese pork loin with apples and speck ham, little roulades with radicchio and blue cheese, beef cubes with Pata negra lard, just to mention a few.There are also regional specialties stalls, such as the Sardinian deli L'erba voglio – ricotta and myrtle ravioli, mint culurgiones (a sort of ravioli filled with potatoes), sebadas (a sort of fried pancake filled with cheese) or other stalls from Puglia selling typical biscuits and snacks, called taralli.
Next to the haberdashery stalls, children clothes and shoes, bags and shoes for ladies, there are also laundry and shoe repair services, that are easier to find in a shopping center than in a market.
Last but not least, you can’t miss Fabio’s bookshop-gallery, painter from Lecce with a real passion for arts and literature. In his shop you can find rare art catalogues, used books, novels and even some masterpieces: paintings or sculptures by some artists among his friends.
“When I got at Ponte Milvio I thought ‘ but this is not a market!’. Mummy and Daddy had parked in an underground parking which looked everything but a place for stalls. I thought ‘they cheated me, they took me at the supermarket which I hate… except for the carts’. But no, it was really a market, different from the usual ones, but still a market.
I stayed almost half an hour looking at a lady wearing gloves and cleaning artichokes with a strange knife, while she kept on talking and talking to Mummy. There were also her little dog Stella which was very sweet and her granddaughter, who should be my age. She loves grapes and raw peppers… which is not a taste we have in common.
Before leaving, Mummy and Daddy had promised they would take me to a place full of children playing together. I was so disappointed – and my parents too, frankly speaking – because a big electronics store had taken all the the room on the second floor, including the one of the games place”.
artichokes stems sauce
Mrs Silvana gave us the recipe of a sauce to use the artichokes stems, if not used with the artichokes themselves.
You should proceed as for ‘romana’ artichokes and therefore cook the stems with olive oil, parsley, garlic and wild mint (if you like it), all minced and some water. When they seem well cooked, blend them in a mixer and the sauce can be used directly on your pasta or put on a layer of lasagne, together with some béchamel or cheese.
Just around the corner
The market owns its name to one of the most famous bridges in Rome. The fame of Ponte Milvio (or Ponte Mollo, as it was also known among Romans, both ancient and current ones) comes from the battle between Maxentius and Constantine in 312 AD: according to tradition, the latter, on the battle eve, had a vision of a cross that – used as a banner by the troops – led him to the final victory, and later encouraged him to integrate Christians in the Empire state life. Christian signs still adorn the bridge, such as the niche entitled to Sant'Andrea in ‘400 and still located on the square. Some other signs were actually slashing it in recent times, and the fame of the bridge as of today is due to them: we’re talking about hundreds of locks that lovers would hook to the streetlights before throwing the key into Tevere river to prove the eternity of their feelings.
This trend, launched by a novel by Federico Moccia, has spread until it got on the ‘news’ when one of the streetlights collapsed in April 2007. After a long battle, in September 2012 the locks were finally removed. Before even forgetting this ugliness, a new clash has come up: some brilliant local officer has proposed to expose the locks in a museum. Be aware that we will never ever suggest to visit such a place, even if it was right in the middle of a market!
Continuing along the river towards the city center, you can see a huge box of white travertine which you might see as background on the news anytime a journalist talks about some Italian fellow kidnapped abroad: it’s FARNESINA PALACE, a good example of rationalist architecture much appreciated by Mussolini, and nowadays seat of the Foreign Affairs Museum.
Built in 1935 as the new headquarter of the Fascist Party, with its 720 thousand cubic meters split in 1,300 rooms it competes with the Royal Palace of Caserta as the largest building in Italy. You might not know that the famous sculpture by Arnaldo Pomodoro – one of the spheres "twin" of those laying in the United Nations Palace garden in New York and in front of Trinity College in Dublin – is not the only piece of art in the building: since 1999, the ministry hosts in fact a rich exhibition of Italian art of the twentieth century.
Just a bit further you will get the chance to see one of the real masterpieces of the Fascist era: the FORO ITALICO. It's the heart of Rome’s sporting life: it hosts the Olympic pool and the fields where the International Tennis tournament is played every year, the seat of the National Olympic Committee and that of the sports university. But the main reason why it’s so popular is the Olympic stadium, where Livio Berruti and Wilma Rudolph won the Olympics in 1960, now “home” of the soccer teams Roma and Lazio and lately also of the national rugby team, which had to move from the smaller Flaminio stadium, due to the increasing number of supporters and several prestigious victories.
But it’s another stadium we would like to address your attention to: the marble arena hosting 64 athletes statues, each representing a different sport.
If you don’t really appreciate the classic and rhetoric taste of the sculptures, you might enjoy better the giant obelisk at the beginning of the long avenue taking to the Olympic stadium. 36 meters tall, it shows intact on its whole height the title MVSSOLINI DVX. It’s funny to notice that nowadays it’s easier to see a dictator’s monument being knocked down rather than shown off. Up to you to decide whether it’s for maturity or poor memory, for willingness not to forget a dark side of history or inability to deal with it.
|where||via Riano 15|
Monday – Saturday, h 7:00 – 13:30
From Piazza Risorgimento, Line 32 - From Piazzale Flaminio, Tram 2