The Best Food Markets in Rome
What trip to Rome is complete without a visit to its world-renowned street food markets?
17 February 2023
The inseparable bond between Italy and fine food is at the very heart of its culture, with Rome’s iconic food markets, or ‘mercati’, serving as the perfect representation of this timeless love affair. Not only a reliable source of the very best fresh produce and goods, but the traditional ‘mercati’ also act as cultural centres, strengthening communities through great conversation, excellent food, and an unbeatable atmosphere.
Whether you’re procuring great-value produce, hunting for a wholesome meal, or simply want to take in the local flavour, no visit to Rome is complete without making a stop by at least one of the very best of the city’s historical street food markets. And who knows, that quick lunchtime detour might even turn into an extended culinary adventure.
For families travelling in Italy, a trip to some of the top gelato shops on the continent is guaranteed to be a hit with both kids and adults alike - an unforgettable experience, they’re a must-visit on your Rome itinerary.
Our Regional Expert and Italy Travel Specialist Hannah Ingle said Rome’s markets are best:
“With a guide and your chef and going to the local produce, butchers, and mongers to collect ingredients before going back to the kitchen and cooking for an authentic experience. When I or our guests go, it’ll always be Mercato Campo de’ Fiori and it’ll be with a chef.”
What Is the Best Food Market in Rome?
Asking “what is the best food market in Rome” is like asking what region of the Italian countryside produces the finest red wine. Each offers a unique feel, with its own personality and charm, making it impossible to give a definitive answer. Instead, we at Scott Dunn have curated this list of the very best picks to explore, simply leaving you to discover your own personal food paradise, or ‘paradiso del cibo
1. Mercato Trionfale
With its rich history, Mercato Trionfale is acknowledged as Rome's original street food market, established just outside of Vatican City in the late 1800s. Its expansive network of 273 stalls and vendors make Trionfale one of Italy's largest markets and possibly the largest in all of Europe.
Although its sheer scale may seem daunting, Mercato Trionfale’s ordered chaos of stalls are made simple through its colour categorisations: stalls selling fruit and vegetables are green, red stalls sell meat and blue stalls are for fish traders. While anything and everything is available for sale somewhere within its labyrinthian structure, Trionfale is renowned for its world-class, fresh produce, making it a favourite of locals and nearby restaurateurs.
We recommend combining a visit to Vatican City, one of Italy’s most iconic locations, with an extended stop by Mercato Trionfale, with the two being a mere stone’s throw apart.
2. Mercato Campo de' Fiori
Translating literally to ‘field of flowers’, with its location previously being the site of a lush meadow, Mercato Campo de’ Fiori’s inherited title still aptly captures the unquestionable beauty of the square the marketplace occupies. It’s truly the most luxurious market in Rome, and its relatively high prices are more than made up for by its unmistakably charming atmosphere and picturesque surroundings.
Located south of Piazza Navona, this Roman food market is surrounded by some of the city's most historically significant and affluent sites, making it an ideal spot to refuel while touring Rome's most influential landmarks.
Expect early hustle and bustle thanks to its fresh morning market, offering flowers, fruit, herbs and vegetables every day from Monday to Saturday. In the evening, the square re-ignites, with its lively bars and terraces offering scenic and atmospheric drinking spots for tourists and locals alike, cementing Campo de’ Fiori as one of the best social spots in Rome.
3. Mercato di Campagna Amica al Circo Massimo
Famous for its "0 km" philosophy, this farmers market is renowned for its commitment to only selling products grown or made within 100 km of its location near the Circus Maximus. This steadfast devotion to the freshest and finest food is reflected in the exceptional quality offered by this charming mercato.
Off the beaten tourist track, you’ll be forgiven for not spotting this one yourself, despite being the largest farmers market in the city. Vendors mainly come from the Lazio region, bringing the finest local pecorino (sheep cheese), extra virgin olive oil, honey and cured meats. We especially recommend the olives, picked by hand by local workers from the surrounding communities.
Remember, this is one of Rome’s many street food markets that are only open on weekends, so be sure to time your visit accordingly.
4. Mercato Rionale Piazza San Giovanni di Dio
For travellers seeking a more local experience, Mercato Rionale Piazza San Giovanni di Dio is a charming and discreet mercato situated near Monteverde, Rome’s popular ‘getaway’ neighbourhood. While finding this one may be more challenging than some of the other options on this list, the mercato sits in a sweet spot on the outskirts of Rome - close enough to still feel the buzz of the bustling city, yet removed enough to ensure some well-deserved peace and quiet.
Though smaller in size, this market is an ideal place to find some of the freshest, top-quality local produce, meats and cheeses - perfect for those seeking an authentic experience away from the hustle and bustle of street markets in the heart of Rome.
While perhaps lacking in a certain aesthetic appeal of some of Rome’s other street food markets, Mercato San Giovanni di Dio instead gives travellers a more accurate taste of life within Italy’s capital city. Come for the generous offering of fresh, delicious produce, and stay for the sense of raw authenticity that this mercato delivers.
5. Mercato Testaccio
Like much of Rome, Mercato Testaccio has reinvented itself countless times over the years, while still retaining its reputation as the cultural hub of its local community. Today, it firmly holds its reputation as a market with some of the best street food Rome has to offer, such as world-class bakeries, delis and gelato stalls. Perhaps our best advice to remember before visiting Mercato Testaccio is to arrive with an empty stomach.
More than just a food market, Testaccio is interwoven with the identity of its local community: a place where locals and tourists alike come to chat, laugh and spend time together with great food and even better company. Thanks to this, Mercato Testaccio earns its place as one of our star recommendations for both solo travellers and those bringing along the whole family.
6. Mercato Centrale - Termini
Perhaps one of the most visually appealing Roman food markets on this list, the Mercato Centrale Termini is not only a hub of some of the best food stalls within Italy’s capital but also a breathtaking display of architecture and design. Centrally located within the Termini Train station, this food market combines quality offerings with an unbeatable setting, nestled underneath cavernous, vaulted ceilings designed by renowned architect Angiolo Mazzoni.
Mercato Centrale has a simple but all-encompassing mantra: “La bonta e elementare”, or “Goodness is elementary”, and after spending an afternoon sampling some of the finest street food made using basic yet delicious ingredients, we think you’ll come to agree.
This mercato has come a long way since its humble beginnings as an after-hours gathering place for railway workers. Today, Mercato Centrale Termini is one of Rome's top street food markets for those who appreciate great cuisine. Despite its evolution, this mercato remains true to its roots as a gathering place where people come together to bond over fine food, wine and conversation. Do bear in mind though, this train station gets very busy with travellers on top of those visiting the market, so for those wanting a slower pace, we recommend the Mercato Rionale Piazza San Giovanni di Dio.
7. Nuovo Mercato Esquilino
The last recommendation on this list perfectly reflects Rome’s status as a cultural melting pot and demonstrates how delicious that blend can truly be. Situated in Esquilino, Rome’s most multicultural neighbourhood, this renowned mercato showcases the best food from cultures all around the world; from Chinese fishmongers to Bengali butchers, Indian tailors to Senegalese store owners, this market truly has it all.
Feeling more like a fleamarket, what sets this unique and charming Roman street food market apart is not just the exceptional cuisine, but the people behind it. As you stroll through the crowded lanes of this vibrant market, you are struck by the seamless unity of cultures from around the world, brought together by a shared love of good food. With your nose flooded with aromas of spices from far-flung lands, your mouth occupied with some of the best food Rome can offer and your ears filled with dialects from all over the globe - no amount of time spent in Nuovo Mercato Esquilino will ever be long enough.
With its central location just around the corner from the Roma Termini train station, there simply is no excuse for missing this indoor food market on your personal tour of Rome.