Things to do in Rome
Campo de Fiori
10 reasons why you should visit Campo de Fiori
According to some traditions, Campo de Fiori was named after Flora, the woman most loved by one of the richest men in ancient Rome, Pompey the Great. Because much of ancient Rome was built underground, this is also true of the Theater of Pompey, where the famous assassination of Julius Caesar took place. Some of the later construction in the area, like Via dei Giubbonari, still carries the oval shape of the theater because it was built on top of it. The old theater extends for 2 km, all the way to Largo Argentina where excavating uncovered three temples that date back to the 3rd century BCE. Nearby were found 5–6 bathrooms from the period of Pompey, as well as a few offices and deposits. This excavation was done in 1930, in the imperial age under Mussolini.
A few meters near Campo Fiori is a favorite spot of Vannozza Cattanei, the mistress of Pope Alexander VI, a member of the revered Borgia family. She was also a lover of the famous Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere. In this location, called Locanda della Vacca, she would hold meetings with all the prostitutes of Rome and take care of business, because this place was a famous brothel. Here she would also lend people money so she could charge interest on it. Today this is called loan sharking. If you happen to walk on this street, take look at the building to see the family crest of Borgia and Cattanei, on which a bull is represented.
In the 1600s, Giordano Bruno was burned alive here in the center of Campo de Fiori. He was a Dominican friar, a philosopher and astronomer, and a cosmological theorist and hermetic oculist. He said that the stars were distant suns, surrounded by their own planets which might have life, and that the universe is infinite and has no center. However, this belief would change everything that the Catholic Church had taught for many years, so they decided to burn him at the stake in front of everyone.
When did Campo Fiori became a food market? Well, it first became a place for selling horses. A few times a week, you could go there and find whatever type of horse you were looking for. After that, a lot of artisans opened shops nearby and the area became full of new activity and culture.
In 1859, the market was made official and all the local farmers, who had their vineyards, lands and animals at the Roman castles, started bringing their fresh goods at 5 am each morning to set them up for sale. This is the way it has been here for a century and half now. It’s a must to try the Puntarelle Romane, the artichokes, and some of the best olive oils and aged vinegar you’ll find anywhere. Don't forget the Parmiggiano cheese, aged for 24 months, or the Pecorino cheese, aged for 36.
Today, Campo de Fiori is one of the most visited sights of historic Rome because of its location right between Piazza Navona, the Jewish ghetto and the Pantheon. If you get hungry while you’re here, have a quick bite at the famous Forno Campo or Forno Campo de Fiori, where you will find pizza by the slice, including margarita pizza, pizza rossa and pizza alla pala. The staff is helpful with smiling faces and almost never change—there are always the same people working there.
Bring a bottle to fill at the beautiful Roman drinking fountains called nasoni, too. We have about 2,500 of them in the city and the water is always fresh and clean.
If you happen to be here at nighttime, we recommend sitting down for a glass of wine or happy hour at the Giganti bar and restaurant. For coffee we highly recommend Vita, a bar 20 meters from Campo that offers tea, coffee and cocktails and is very cozy and elegant inside.
If you want to hang out with the locals, 30 meters away is Piazza Farnese, where you’ll find Camponeschi, the best local place for happy hour drinks and delicious wine. Many well-to-do lawyers and businessmen, called Roma bene in Italian, go to this place, as do a lot of beautiful Italian women, so don't forget to dress nicely! Make sure to wear a smart dress or white shirt and jacket, jeans or dress trousers and of course, nice shoes.