A Visit to Testaccio, Rome

Testaccio in ancient times was the centre of trade along the Tevere, and in the centre of this suburb stands Testaccio Hill, which is made up entirely of broken clay amphorae or vessels, a kind of Roman midden pile, providing archeological evidence of ancient everyday Roman life. I would love to go digging in that pile of remains, a highly unlikely prospect. In the meantime, I went digging for culinary treasure at the Testaccio market, a venue often heralded as one of Rome’s food havens.

On the way to Testaccio Market
Testaccio, a Roman working class suburb with great bars and restaurants. Gentrification here we come. Just like Brunswick, Melbourne, complete with hipsters too.

Testaccio is a plain looking working class suburb that is on the turn. The bars and restaurants look more appealing than many of those located in the tourist traps around Rome, though they are being discovered and some are beginning to blandify their offerings to suit small tour groups run by American food bloggers. In one such establishment, Flavio Al Velavevodetto, I had the best Carciofi alla Giudìa, that classic Roman Jewish dish of deep-fried artichoke, and a rather insipid Pasta e Ceci, redeemed only by the cute bottle of their own freshly pressed olive oil, which went straight into my handbag. The restaurant is carved into Monte Testaccio and you can view amphorae shards in the hill through carved out arches in the rear wall.  Perhaps this is a worthy reason to visit in itself.

The best of Rome’s Carciofi alla Giudea at Flavio Al Velavevodetto
Not like Nonna used to make. Pasta e Ceci at Flavio Al Velavevodetto

The Testaccio market building is modern, fairly ugly, and not particularly appealing. However, If you have an apartment in centro and are after fresh ingredients, this is the spot to shop. Other offerings include an outdoor cafe, a shop touting a list of so-called Strit Fud snacks, a concept I still find jarring in the Italian context, and a wonderful little corner bar offering a tall glass of Prosecco at any time in the morning for €2

Prosecco for breakfast at Testaccio Market.

 

I was intrigued by the padrone of the prosciutto shop, who hand cut his special cured meats. A small crowd gathered as he carefully shaved off thin slices of Cinta Senese, that Tuscan pig with its own DOP.

Hand cut Prosciutto
The art of hand cutting prosciutto
Cinta Senese

While the produce is fresh and appealing, the market was, for me, underwhelming. We needed that glass of Prosecco.

Rome you seduce me

and begging me to return

Obsessed, I obey.

 

For Unlikely, at WordPress and Ronovan’s weekly Haiku

36 thoughts on “A Visit to Testaccio, Rome”

  1. Thanks for posting this. I visited the market a couple of weeks ago, but didn’t have a glass of prosecco, darn it! We went on to eat lunch at Eatily near the Ostiense train station. The food (and wine) were excellent, and I was amazed at the many floors of produce, groceries, wines and beer. I wish I had one of those in my little town. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think so signoriina. Inside the larger groyps were noticeable and the menu was fairly typical and a tad touristy. Tuo marito would not find much joy there. i can’t understand why the classic dish , pasta e ceci , is so badly done in Italy these days. We are so fortunata here with auch authentic Italian food signorina.Not long to go now, how many sleeps?

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    1. The Strit Fud list was tempting- the usual dishes you might find at a market, or a little piza window that opens in the afternoon, or a sagra for example. However, the concept of Street Food is an Asian one and the words, to me, don;t quite fit the Italian offerings. That area is great for a stroll MMM, when are you heading back to Rome?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi, Francesca, good to see you around! Well, I thought that we were strolling around Testaccio but now amore tells me that it was more Ostiense and Trastevere and we didn’t go to Testaccio proper. I’m in Rome on a monthly basis. As for Strit Fud, I was admiring the spelling, not the content as much. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. That carciofo is calling to me! I stay near San Paolo when I am in Roma, so I’m right ‘next door’ to Testaccio. The gastronomic history of the area is very interesting. Che peccato about your pasta e ceci. I had a delicious carbonara at Flavio while I stared at the cross section of Monte Testaccio through those glass windows. I will have to spend more time at the Mercato Testaccio next time. Prosciutto & prosecco are 2 of my favourite food groups! Ciao, Cristina

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Excellent haiku, delightful virtual treasure expedition and food for thought… the more things change they become the same. But still the area and the market appears to have enough redeeming it to appeal. Unlikely I will explore it in person anytime soon but wonderful that you have captured as it is now for my enjoyment.

    Liked by 1 person

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