In 2006, my seven-months-pregnant sister and I boarded a train to Naples at Rome’s Termini station. Due to our early morning departure and sleepy composure, we found ourselves ordering a less than appealing breakfast at one of the many mediocre food stalls flanking the main corridor. As we grabbed our food, we made our way to the train platform just in time to settle into our seats and down our breakfast items. For some reason, I still recall that seemingly insignificant breakfast on that brisk October morning. Oh, how I wish that trip in 2006 took place today – ten years later, coincidentally, to the exact day.
Two days ago on October 5th, Rome’s Termini station, a chaotic den of brightly lit pathways and mediocre food stalls opened the Central Market (Il Mercato Centrale Roma), a gastronomic reprieve for travelers who finds themselves within the swiftly paced, somewhat lackluster environment at Termini.
Situated at the Via Giolitti entrance into the station, the Central Market is home to 15 artisanal market stalls arranged in a fashion not dissimilar to a market square, or piazza if you will. Dominating the space overhead is the cappa mazzoniana, an architectural hood designed in the 1930’s by architect Angiolo Mazzoni. Accompanying the culinary delights of the stalls is a wine bar and restaurant overseen by the Michelin star German chef, Oliver Glowig’s – all aptly located on the second level with terrace views overlooking the bustle below. While the space’s modern design is something the Italians do best, the real showcase is the food.
Amongst my favorite artisanal food items in all of Rome is the delicious products that come from the ovens of Gabrielle Bonci, owner of the famous Pizzarum and Panificio in Rome’s Prati district. With a stall at the market, travelers and locals alike no longer need to venture into the off-set Prati district to taste his beloved craft. Additionally, I am sure the staff is as lovely here as they are at Bonci’s flagship store.
Also occupying a stall space is the proprietor of the inventive food known as a trapizzino – a triangle pizza-like pocket, (open on one side) of bread stuffed with stewed recipes like polpetta al sugo (meatball sauce), pollo cacciatora (chicken cacciatore), or parmigiana di melanzane (eggplant parmesan). With its cult-like following in Rome, a trapizzino is an excellent alternative to the tramezzino, from which is bears part of its name – a triangular panini flanked with crustless, tasteless white bread popular in every cafe and bar in Italy.
Other choices range from seasonal produce and regional specialties, with one stall even catering to vegans and vegetarians.
With opening hours as early as 7 am and closing at midnight, the new market tucked into Termini is a welcomed, accessible addition to the beautiful culinary traditions of the Eternal City.
And I am almost positive my 9-year-old niece, whose last meal at Termini Station from the comforts of her mother’s stomach was less than remarkable, would be thrilled to visit the market with me.
LeAnne J. Smith
Do you like to eat? In September 2017, Thesis Travel will host 12 travelers who will gather together in Milan to set out on an eleven-day gastronomic tour and tasting of Italy’s finest products. “Gastronomic Italy: Culinary Excellence and the Slow Food Movement” will stop in Bra, Parma, Modena, Bologna, Florence, Siena, Orvieto, and Rome. If you are interested in learning more about this trip, please email me.