Testaccio, one of Rome’s most charming neighborhoods, has a long history of classic Roman cuisine. This district has long been involved in the food trade in Rome from the Ancient Roman “amphora” time when they were filled with empire-wide imported wine and olive oil to today’s eclectic food market that turns Testaccio into one of the most interesting and lively areas of Rome.
The Testaccio neighborhood is distinct in both the palette of Rome’s cuisines and personalities. This district of the eternal city is a unique combination of the ancient traditions and modern twists. A walk inside Testaccio will give you the chance to feel like a local, taste classical Roman food and taste avant-garde food trends developing in the city. Surrounded by its authentic architecture, there are historical peculiarities such as the Monte dei Cocci and Pyramide. Beyond this old roman mountain of pots and Egyptian limestone is an active neighborhood with revitalized arts, cultures, markets, cuisines, and popularity that imbue a renewed great passion and point of pride for Romans, like an old love that once waned now returned…and shows no signs of stopping.
Buried in Testaccio's so-called English Cemetary are such names as John Keats, Percy Shelley, and the Italian intellectual and revolutionary Antonio Gramsci. Visiting Testaccio shortly before his death, Shelley wrote that: "It might make one in love with death, to think that one should be buried in so sweet a place." With the cemetery's towering cypress trees, abundant flowers, and rampant greenery running wild into this shaded stretch of the ancient Aurelian Walls, you can understand quite what he meant.
Testaccio may not be among Rome’s most spotted neighbourhood for tourist sites, but its rich history and cultural diversity more than makes up for it. In antiquity, the district was home to the Emporium port, where the bulk of the Romans’ food supply funnelled into the city. Olive oil, grains, and other essential foodstuffs arrived in terracotta vessels called amphorae which were disposed of in an outdoor dumpsite that created the ancient Monte dei Cocci, or Monte Testaccio hill. Inside and underneath this mountain of pots are 53 million broken amphorae. Today, aside from the famous night area of Testaccio, are many tightly clustered clubs and famous restaurants whose designers and builders literally excavated inside the hill to host and stage the famous Movida Romana.
Personal to many Romans…and just to fortify the identity of the neighbourhood…is a story of a sentimental symbol of Testaccio which is The Fontana of the Amphora. The motive of the fountain built out of ancient pots refers to the Monte Cocci and to the symbol of the whole quarter. Originally located in Piazza Testaccio, it was moved elsewhere in the 30s and replaced with a market, but after the closure of the old Testaccio market in 2012, Piazza Testaccio was converted back to an open space, reopened in January 2015, with the restored fountain back again at its rightful centre.
More than one hundred years ago, Testaccio housed Europe’s biggest abattoir, giving rise to rustic, Roman dishes like trippa alla romana and oxtail stew. Nowadays, the whole area has been revitalized to offer useful and engaging services to the community, by creating a new section for the Macro Contemporary Art of Rome, a conference center, an organic market, and a theater (run by an NGO of immigrants) that offers a spacious outdoor venue for gigs, flea markets, and social events for youth and families.
It was also in this neighbourhood that the city’s beloved team, AS Roma, had their first football field, and where rowdy locals still gather to take in a match. Earlier in 2017, the undeniable love of Testaccio for the team has pushed few fans to rename one of the square of the district after Francesco Totti, the Captain of the last 20 years and the so-called 8th King of Rome.
Nevertheless, Testaccio is mostly hailed as a bastion of Roman culinary excellence, home to some of the Capital’s best eateries, many of which happen to be just around and inside the new Testaccio market officially opened in 2012. Indeed while worldly known osterias like Felice and new hot spots like Trapizzino still gather attention, now most of the interest of the foodies have been redirected to the many stalls of the Market no longer only selling but also cooking fresh produce, typical boiled meat and roman sandwiches with tripe, scottona, and picchiapò. The variety of the food is high and so inside the market of Testaccio you can find pizza passionately made with low fermentation pasta madre, fresh pasta and fried delicatessens like supplì and olive ascolane, and even a Michelin-starred chef serving meat and soups into paper cups, following the philosophy of new trends in Testaccio: Delicious, New and Easy.
Testaccio Food Market
Mon-Sat 6:00 am – 2:00 pm
Once a month the market keeps open until midnight, it's called Open Day: music, dance (the central bar turns into a milonga), the stalls become spots for an aperitivo or a dinner and it ends up with a deejay set.
Restaurants generally close at 2:30 pm and 11:00 pm for dinner, but many clubs stay open until 2 am and 4 am.
Check out the popular quarter of Testaccio, a perfect balance of neighbourhood ambience, industrial art, exquisite food and vibrant nightlife all within handy reach.
Famous Italian journalist and former director of Il Foglio, Giuliano Ferrara said of Testaccio: "Testaccio? It's like staying in New York, here is perfect.”