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55. Shopping at the Old Market

Updated: Mar 21, 2020

By - Giulio D'Ercole

Early morning food shopping in the center of Rome has one must stop: Campo de' Fiori. Here the market takes place every morning but Sunday in its rectangular square located south of Piazza Navona, at the border between rione Parione and rione Regola. On the adjacent square, there is Palazzo della Cancelleria and one block northeast of the Palazzo Farnese. Campo de' Fiori, translated literally from Italian, means "field of flowers". The name dates to the Middle Ages when the area was a meadow.

In Ancient Rome, the area was unused space between Pompey's Theatre and the flood-prone Tiber. Though the Orsini established themselves on the south flank of the space in the 13th century, until the 15th century. the square remained undeveloped. The first church in the immediate vicinity was built during the pontificate of Boniface IX (1389-1404).

Campo de' Fiori has never been architecturally formalized. The square has always remained a focus for commercial and street culture: the surrounding streets are named for trades—Via dei Balestrari (crossbow-makers), Via dei Baullari (coffer-makers), Via dei Cappellari (hat-makers), Via dei Chiavari (key-makers) and Via dei Giubbonari (tailors).

Executions used to be held publicly in Campo de' Fiori., The most famous one of them took place on 17 February 1600, when the philosopher Giordano Bruno was burnt alive for heresy, and all of his works were placed on the Index of Forbidden Books by the Holy Office. His sculpture is placed right in the middle of the square, overlooking the slow and fun life of Romans and tourists walking, drinking and eating there, where he was once killed.

But besides history and art, Campo de Fiori is the perfect location for street photography focusing on colors, everyday life, and typical Roman people, and that is why it is one of the places we will surely visit during our tours Rome by Day, History and Beauty and Rome by Day, Street Photography.

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