A cynical Rome-based food writer once wrote of Campo de’ Fiori, central Rome’s most famous market, “Spend 10 minutes standing next to the statue of Giordano Bruno in the center of the square and analyze the tourist to local shopper ratio. No Rome resident has ever purchased limoncello that comes in a boot-shaped bottle, nor has a local ever purchased phallic pasta. Though a handful of stalls sell (overpriced) produce, the only reason to go Campo these days is to have a good cry.”
For years, the city’s most iconic food market (not to be confused with a farmers’ market, which is something else altogether), has been in decline. Rising costs, changing demographics, and low profit margins are among the factors that drove many produce vendors out of business, leaving them to be replaced with stalls peddling the lowest quality olive oils, balsamic vinegar in spray bottles, and stale spice mixes.
Ordinarily, the arrival of a new stall means yet another garbage vendor. But in a rare turn of events, Beppe e I Suoi Formaggi, a cheese shop in the Ghetto, recently opened a stand selling a nice range of cheeses from Piedmont and various Alpine and Apennine regions. The price point is geared towards well-heeled clients, but these days, Rome’s market stalls don’t exactly pay for themselves.