/Nuovo Mercato Testaccio To Open Soon

Nuovo Mercato Testaccio To Open Soon

Testaccio seen from the air.

The end of an era is approaching. The nearly century old Mercato di Testaccio will shutter its stalls soon enough (the precise date depends on who you ask; La Repubblica recently reported an opening date later this month) and the vendors who can afford to move will relocate to the Nuovo Mercato Testaccio at the end of Via Galvani, opposite the ex-Mattatoio. Of course, the new space will offer amenities the current one does not. But the rents are going up as well. And since I cannot stomach the commercial atrocity and architectural abortion that is the Nuovo Mercato, I asked Jillian to look into things for her last assignment. Her excellent report follows.

“The bustling Testaccio market that I visited Saturday morning—a delightful jumble of fish vendors and fruit stands, stalls boasting dozens of cheeses and 2-liter bottles of wine for 3 euro at every corner—is slated to close in the coming weeks. In its place, or rather, a few blocks over, the new Testaccio market will open its whitewashed, neo-something doors to the public.

The 97-year-old market’s new destination? A 10,000 5,000 square-meter building just off of Via Galvani (a short walk from Ponte Testaccio). Per Katie’s suggestion, I spent some last week peering at the new venue’s layout through the barred façade, taking in the orderly emptiness of it all and, I have to say, the space left me feeling utterly unenthused.

Apart from the diverse selection of offerings and endearingly pushy vendors, one thing I loved about the old Testaccio market was its low prices. Now, word has it that stall space at the Nuovo Mercato costs nearly double what it did at the old market, begging the question, how will vendors make up the price difference in the new venue? Seasoned vendors know that simply passing the elevated costs along to customers means that they can kiss their regulars goodbye. Why would the average market-goer (an elderly woman living off her husband’s pension) pay more when Testaccio has cheap supermarkets? Instead, it seems that the market’s creators are hoping that the numbers will balance out other ways—namely, increased number of shoppers, and increased number of purchases. Think Costco, Italian style.

The new market is located next to a very large, very heavily advertised underground parking garage—perhaps customers will flock to Testaccio in their cars, buy their groceries in bulk, then load everything into the trunk and drive home—because that’s totally Italians do their shopping. Really though, whereas the old market is conveniently located steps away from the number 3 tram line, the new location anticipates the majority of customers arriving in macchina. Another likely scenario: the area is being primed for tourist takeover. Let’s face it: with the gigantic Roadhouse Grill (Name: English, menu: English. C’mon people!) and a perfectly uninteresting sushi house right next door, Via Galvani will become an ideal destination for tourists wanting to experience Italian market life and then grab a steak afterward.

Perhaps I’m not being entirely fair. The Nuovo Mercato has the potential for a cleaner, more hygienic atmosphere (running water, score!) than its older counterpart, and that’s worth noting. But the bland layout of the new location makes me yearn for the gritty authenticity for the old market—and it hasn’t even closed yet! As of last week, it looked as though not a soul had started moving in to the new space, but my source (a server at a nearby café) told me that the market is set to open soon—May 3rd! Looks like we’ll all have to wait with bated breath until the Nuovo Mercato Testaccio actually opens for business, and our critical eyes can officially pass judgment.”

Thanks Jillian for your superb contributions! Readers can follow her from now on at The Daily Californian.

Photo credits: Katie Parla

2017-02-17T15:18:09+00:00 May 2nd, 2012|Categories: Culture, Food & Wine, Gastronomic Traditions, Rome & Lazio|12 Comments


  1. Diana Spencer May 3, 2012 at 9:39 am - Reply

    I’m feeling saddened/anxious 🙁 we live v near the ‘old’ market and have mixed feelings about the new. It’s less handy for locals, it’s not charming. Worst of all the focus on cars and the terrible steak and sushi joints. Your two posts have caught all the horrors. But if it can be bedded in and grow character maybe all won’t be lost. It’ll take time tho, I suspect, and I’m not sure how the economics of wait-and-see will work for vendors with higher overheads. Sadly, supermercati will be handiest for us now…

  2. Elizabeth May 3, 2012 at 10:09 am - Reply

    As you mention, it’s almost impossible to judge the market before it’s in use. The vendors are getting subsidies to help them with the cost of the move so it shouldn’t be that onerous. And although we may bemoan the disappearance of the old market, every single vendor I spoke to at the old market is looking forward to being able to work in a place that has safe electrical power, running water and no running rats. And regarding parking beneath, that at least puts them on a par with supermarkets with similar conveniences. The two fast food restaurants are a shame, but we all know that these kinds of places often have a short shelf life. Fingers crossed for their early demise.
    So I’m being optimistic, and hoping for the best.

  3. Elizabeth Minchilli May 3, 2012 at 1:29 pm - Reply

    I’ve learned – from hard experience – to never trust any figures that La Repubblica reports on. They often make them up. I’ll try to find that report that the they would receive subsidies, but for sure I heard it directly from some of the vendors, as well as local business and restaurant owners.
    I think that some of the small, barely making it anyway, veg stands will close, unfortunately. But that was bound to happen since they don’t have a younger generation to take over. But most of the butchers, fishmongers and bigger veg guys are planning on moving.
    And let’s pray that there isn’t enough tourist traffic to support those horrid spice and pasta guys from Campo.

  4. Katie May 3, 2012 at 12:43 pm - Reply

    just wanted to add a link to a late-january article in la repubblica, which may not reflect recent changes but when i get back to rome i will do some digging. this article states the size of stalls in the new market is 20 square meters (vs 12 square meters at old market). the cost of rent will go up from 0.42 per square meter per day to 0.63 per square meter per day. that means rents now are €1839.60 annually. in the new market they will rise to €4599. that sounds like it should be illegal! if anyone has up to date figures please post! oh and there are 103 stalls in the new market, way more than at the old one. news on who is going to fill them?

    @diana the focus on cars is so absurd and indicative of the fact the people in charge here are morons. taking a market out of the loop of convenient public transport is plain stupidity.

    @elizabeth i have heard there will possibly be subsidies for the actual cost of moving from the old market to the new one. can you link to some source that says otherwise? im writing from a sketchy internet connection and can’t do research. but not all the vendors from the old one are even moving due to age/massive rise in rents. of course cleaner and more modern conditions are something to strive for but who exactly is going to thrive at the new market? hard working people or those that sell junk. im imagining a sea of vegetable peelers and spice mixes campo style. and lots more of those horrible clothing stalls.

  5. Katie May 3, 2012 at 8:57 pm - Reply

    doh! forgot to include the link…http://roma.repubblica.it/cronaca/2012/01/22/news/pronto_il_nuovo_mercato_cos_cambia_testaccio-28553006/

    will ask mauro next week if he was misquoted.

  6. Sarah May Grunwald May 3, 2012 at 11:11 pm - Reply

    I don’t know enough about the old market to comment but I do find it disturbing that in a time of super increased fuel prices they are catering so much to cars. Recent reports-in Italian news-show that even though fuel charges are up people spent 20% less this past April then in 2011 because they are opting for public transport. As a person who uses the trains every day I can tell ya’ll that there are more people on trains and buses than ever before. If I am taking a train from 8am to 11am I will not find a seat. So catering to cars and not public transport will surely do them in, no? And regardless of fuel costs, isn’t one of the points of locavore shopping to reduce our dependency on oil? I don’t live in Rome, so I don’t shop at this market, luckily all sorts of new farmers markets are popping up in the Castelli Romani.

  7. tavoleromane May 3, 2012 at 9:57 pm - Reply

    The new market has not opened May 3rd 😉
    As far as we know it will open by the end of the month. A municipal communication was also received. But they are having some issues in finalizing the new stalls and there could be some further delays.

    @Elizabeth we have the same optimistic view! Or at least we strongly hope it will not become a new Campo de’ Fiori market! BTW in this case figures reported by Repubblica are more or less the same we knew.

  8. Arlene Gibbs May 4, 2012 at 2:02 pm - Reply

    I pray that the new market doesn’t turn into Campo!

    I live by Campo and rarely shop there unless I have an food emergency, like I forgot to buy a lemon at Trionfale or Testaccio.

    KP already knows how I feel about that “steakhouse”.

  9. Kenny Dunn May 7, 2012 at 10:40 pm - Reply

    The latest date that I heard was the old market closes on May 26th and the new market opens on May 30th.

    Its interesting to hear the range of views of those tenants that are planning on moving over. Some are certainly unhappy about the whole situation if for no other reason the fact that their rents will double. Others have expressed to me excitement about finally working in modern conditions in step with the rest of the EU- some of the new & exciting amenities were mentioned above like running water- others have commented about the bathrooms, changing rooms, separate refrigerators for poultry and beef etc.

    It sounds like the city had two choices to either retrofit the old market which according to some would have meant closing it for 6months- 1 year or constructing a new structure from the ground up. Either way change was inevitable because the market was not within EU standards and hadn’t been for many years.

    As for the future of this new concept I do not have much confidence in the notion that people will drive to the new market so I’m concerned it will not work economically. On the other hand more and more stalls have closed in the existing Testaccio market over the last 2 years because business has been in steady decline there for a while.

    To me it is a commentary on the rise of supermarkets and changes in shopping preferences in general more so that the specifics of what is happening with this one market in Testaccio. No matter what you chalk it up to it’s a sad state of affairs.

  10. Such a shame … I was at the Testaccio market in March and also peered through to new market … it’s hard to imagine it could be the same and the new rents are outrageous.

  11. Whitney Bishop June 4, 2012 at 7:08 pm - Reply

    Wow, I am very saddened by this news. I understand the need and desire for the updated amenities, but this will change the entire dynamic of the neighborhood. I was there four days ago and try to visit twice a month and I had no idea a new market and move are in the works. I shopped there almost daily when I lived in Aventino, and now that I am outside of Rome, I return frequently as it still feels like my home away from home. Peccato.

  12. tavoleromane June 9, 2012 at 10:26 am - Reply

    Sad news. Today is the old Market last day of operation.
    The new one will open next Wednesday (the 13th of June).

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