Rome hosts two large-scale weekend farmers’ markets: one near Circo Massimo (Via di San Teodoro 74) and one that used to be in the Ex-Mattatoio (former slaughterhouse) in Testaccio. In April 2013, however, the latter was relocated further south, away from the centre, to Via Francesco Passino in Garbatella.
We were kinda gutted when this happened, as going to the Ex-Mattatoio market had become a weekend routine. Garbatella, however, is just too far away to be practical when we do everything on foot or by bike. There is still a market and organic shop at the Ex-Mattatoio, with its Città dell’Altra Economia (“Alternative economy city”) so we continued going there, as it’s a great spot. Though it lacks the range now.
This weekend, however, we decided to venture down to Garbatella, to check out the new market and see what baked goods, etc, are available. En route, we wanted to check out the Ponte della Scienza, a new pedestrian and bike bridge that’s been built across the Tiber here. Last time we tried to check it out, it looked finished, but wasn’t open. Now it’s finally open: but it doesn’t really go anywhere or connect to anything.
It took them five years to built it, but, in classic Roman fashion where bickering extremist politicians, corruption, and piss-poor-to-non-existent communication between departments seem to be the norm, there just isn’t any infrastructure on the east side, and there’s very little on the west. There’s no promotion, no information, no signage, and just the usual Roman garbage building up-on the new stairways. Great job, Comune di Roma!
Yet, the bridge is still a great opportunity. You can access it from the foot and bike track along the west bank of the river, and it takes you across to the wonderful old industrial area that includes gasometers, hoppers, water towers and, best of all, Rome’s finest museum. This is the Centrale Montemartini, an annex to the Capitoline museums where ancient statuary is sited among turn of the 19th century turbines and generators in a very handsome art nouveau power station.
We were very bemused when we crossed the bridge, turned right (south) down a promising new stretch of asphalt, thinking it would take us towards the museum, but instead met another cyclist who said “It’s blocked”. So we turned around, went north, and found ourselves leaving the small stretch of new road, cycling through a building site, and emerging onto Via del Porto Fluviale. This is the location of the kinda-cool, kinda hit-and-miss Porto Fluviale, a beer bar and pizzeria that exemplifies the redevelopment going on in this area of Ostiense.
It looks like the Ponte della Scienza work isn’t quite finished yet, but I’m not holding my breath for any rapid progress.
Still, we crossed Via Ostiense, passed Eataly, and headed on into the charismatic Garbatella. This is a very distinctive quartiere, developed in the 1920s and in part inspired the garden city movement: the late 19th century urban planning philosophy based on creating environments that nurtured community through open spaces, greenery and self-sufficiency.
The farmers’ market is now located in the building previously occupied by the daily market. As well as spending a load on a new bridge that doesn’t go anywhere, Rome’s planners seem to enjoy moving markets around too (cf Testaccio; Piazza Vittorio/Esquilino). It’s a handsome building, though I can’t find any historical info about it. I’d guess it was either 1930s or 1950s, but the interior’s been renovated.
Anyway, it’s not a bad site, with each stall having more space. And compared to the Ex-Mattatoio, there are no low-level metal beams or hooks for us tall types to brain ourselves on.
Most importantly, however, it’s packed with good quality, locally produced food. If you’re at all interested in, you know, a viable future for human civilisation, find your local farmers’ market! There you can buy food with a smaller carbon footprint than the contents of your local supermarket, which will mostly have been driven, shipped or flown hundreds or thousands of miles, so every mouthful comes with a climate-change puff of burned hydrocarbons.
Some food then
Pictures of mostly bread, cakes, biscuits. They do sell veg, fruit, dairy products and meat here too, but hey, this is Bread, Cakes and Ale.
Garbatella Farmers’ Market, Via Francesco Passino, 00154 Rome
Metro: line B, Garbatella; bus: 673 (Rho)