Imagine walking through a door, stepping in a large room with high ceilings and being surrounded my thousands of different scents. Dddone? Gggood! It’s what happened to me when, a few days ago, I entered for the first time the Mercato Centrale, a project by Umberto Montano inaugurated on the 5th of October at the ex recreational association of Termini Station.
I have to admit it, the first thing I thought when my friend Sole told me about the inauguration of this place was “ok well, one more Eataly”. But after seeing it with my eyes I had to think again. Certainly the concept of a place where you can buy and taste food and drinks, as well as follow cooking classes, is widespread and very successful from years. However at the Mercato Centrale the atmosphere is different: all around the 30s Cappa Mazzoniana, one next to the other just like a proper market, you can see the various shops. Walking by the windows, filled with attractive dishes and products, you can be stopped by the traders offering a taste of their specialities. So, for me it was like being at Disneyland!
As soon as I walked in my attention was immediately captured by a wall full with loafs freshly baked by Bonci, the bread shop. In front of it Luca Veralli’s ice cream shop, 18 flavors realized with 100% biological milk from Italy and no artificial additive. You can then see the Liberati meat shop, the famous Galluzzi fish market, the pasta factori Mondovì by Egidio Michelis and Romualdo Rizzuti wood oven pizzeria. At the Sicilian speciality stand of Carmelo Pannocchietti you can taste freshly made brioches and expressly stuffed cannoli (remember: a real cannolo has a crunchy biscuit!). The cheese stand is almost endless, full with specialities from Sardinia and Piemonte. Inside the market you can also find some street food, like the Chianina burgers of Enrico Lagorio and the famous trapizzino of Stefano Callegari. Veggie and vegan options are not missed (I saw some very inviting burgers). On the first floor, in a quieter atmosphere, you can find the storeroom, the wine shop and Oliver Glowig restaurant, which offers traditional Italian dishes revisited by the chef with a bit of creativity.
Just like the old markets this place teems with life, traditions and culture. Visiting is a pleasure and you have to take your time to enjoy. However, to be honest, walking from a shop to the other I felt there was something missing. Maybe because I’m used to associate the world “market” with the shouting of the traders, fishmongers trying to give definitely too big sea basses to old ladies, romantic butchers singing while they cut beefsteaks and so on. Instead the only noise I could hear walking around the Mercato Centrale was the voice of clients talking to each other, sitting at the tables in the hall. Then suddenly, there was what I was looking for: “LADIEEES WE HAVE THE ARTICHOKE!! THEY ARE GOOD! COME’N SEE!!”. Directly from Campo de’ Fiori, the artichokes and mushrooms stand gives that folk touch that really fits for me.
If it happens to you to pass nearby this market, I suggest you to have a look, even just to try some products or, better, talk with the artichokes trader. I’m sure you’ll be excited, at least as much as me!