By the time we meandered into the Campo de’ Fiori, it was about two in the afternoon. The market was slowly coming to a close but was still a bustling piazza of tourists mingling with locals picking, choosing, buzzing, haggling, vendors shouting, dogs begging, seagulls waiting. The market was laden with tents and merchants, each selling something different, from oils and nuts to knick knacks, from fresh vegetables to fruit cups.
It was the last of these, blossoming with citrus-spring hues and glistening with sweet refreshment, that caught my eye immediately, but before I could muster up the €5 it was worth, we were pushing on through the crowd.
The Campo, translated literally to field of flowers, first got its name in the Middle Ages when it was, literally, a field of flowers. As shops and residences popped up along the square, the area became more culturally important and commercially focused, until it became a place of public executions during the Inquisition in the 17th century. Hidden between the vendor tents, Giordano Bruno, one of the martyrs, now stands in statue form in the middle of the square. He stands almost judgingly near the central fountain that now represents what the Campo is currently associated with: a fresh fish, flower and produce market during the day, a gossip-filled, people-watching hang out during the night, its inscription reading “Do the good and let them talk.”
We passed under each umbrella until we were almost out and I took yet another wistful look at a fruit cup, tempting me from yet another table. This one, bigger, fuller, grapes piled up on a skewer, the rest of the clear cup filled with even more of what I wanted, strawberries, watermelon almost brimming over, and as a bonus, a whole euro cheaper.
“Please, take.” The Arab-looking vendor insisted. “Whichever you like, only €2.” At this hour, he was almost giving them away. “We are closing because of the rain, everything must go.”
And so I took. And all the succulence I had expected burst from each juicy piece as I bit into it. And it was good.
And so I conclude with a [tip]: if you don’t care to be in the waking chaos of the opening hours of the market but still want the experience of what it provides, absolutely visit Campo de’ Fiori but do so near the end of the day (between 2-4pm): the knick knacks will not sell out, the produce will still be fresh, but the vendors will be willing to give you what you want for less.
And isn’t that what a good find is all about?
Near Piazza Navona. Free.