Thursday, September 23, 2010

Roamin' Roman and the Porta Portese Market

Jet lag lingers like coughs after a flu. I’m waiting for it to lighten up. Saturday night I finally got to sleep! However, my peaceful bliss was soon shattered by the noises coming from outside. You know when you move into a place and everything is perfect?! (It still is, I have no major complaints.) Well reality is slowly trickling in, and I understand the possibility of why we were placed in this specific apartment. It’s because NO ONE wants this room. It is right over the big iron gate door which slams and rattles the entire room each time a person comes in or out. The building is eight stories tall, and full of apartments and people. You do the math of how many times the door opens and closes. Nonetheless I’ve learned to adapt. On Saturday night I managed to sleep through the normal noises, but yet another distraction… I heard tons and tons and tons of voices outside of my balcony as if there was some major clubbing event happening that I was misinformed about. I couldn’t see anything because at night we draw our blinds. For hours I was trying to sleep and eventually around 5am I was able to fall sleep. At 10:20am I woke up and I felt the presence of a large crowd on my doorsteps. It wasn’t until I opened the blinds and saw the Sunday Porta Portese flea market which attracts thousands of people.
Porta Portese Market

Every Sunday from 7am to 1pm hundreds of vendors set up temporary shops outside on the streets. My entire street (via) and the street over are completely shut down from vehicle traffic. You can find anything from junk to designer clothing (let it be known if it is stolen the labels have been ripped off) There are even guys who steal from other vendors who walk around trying to sell goods. This kind of market is not one to be read about but rather to experience. I do not think my written explanation will do the market justice, but I will try.

A few of my roommates and I went to explore. The market is literally in front of my apartment. My balcony overlooks a section of the market and as far as the eye can see, it continues onto the other streets. It is easy to get lost! We were strongly warned by the program’s officials of pick pocketers. Unfortunately, there are pick pocket land mine all over in the market. Needless to say, I became overly paranoid and clung to my purse for dear life even though I only brought 40 Euros. I swear, I’ll return to the states with some kind of post traumatic pick pocket syndrome.

What amazed me the most is the variety of vendors. Some vendors seemed to have brought every single nick knack from their house in hopes of making a buck or two. You can honestly find anything there and that is why I am going to protest all my retail shopping days and wait until the Sunday.

My first mission was to buy a pillow. The pillows provided at the apartments feel as if they are the same ones you receive on airplanes. (Again, this is only a minor hiccup.) Additionally, I needed odds and ends, all of which I was able to find at the market and then some. I discovered with some vendors I was able to bargain the price down. I bought a twelve Euro pillow for six, a fifteen Euro purse for seven, a silver necklace for three instead of ten (I’m sure if it will make my neck turn green.), and a steal dress for ten Euros compared to its originally price of 20. I found I was not able to bargain with the essentials. For instance, band aids, deodorant, etc.

Guilty Indulgence
My guilty indulgence was a vendor who sold glass jewelry. I was completely overwhelmed by the numerous and colorful choices. I literally spent 30 minutes trying to decide what to get, and at the end I bought three. I made a promise to myself if I go next weekend I’m allowed two more.

Around 1ish it starts to wind down and people start packing up. All of a sudden, all the vendors were gone, but not their trash. I have NEVER, EVER, EVER seen a street so dirty in my life. (I guess growing up in Marin County made me that sheltered.) There were bags, boxes, trash, food, and other things (I do not want to mention) on the ground. My beautiful street was now a dump! To this day I cannot understand how people can just leave their mess. Who was going to clean this?!?!?! Even the locals didn’t seem to mind. All of a sudden a few mini green trucks came and men in bright orange pants came to clean up the streets. In less than an hour they had picked up the trash, swept the streets, and then had the street cleaner come and power wash. The Romans have it down to a science.

All Better!!!
The market experience was enough to entertain me for the entire day! I’ve already started a list of what I’ll be purchasing next week. For those of you who follow my blog, I dare you to challenge me to find something at this market, because I can guarantee they have everything (within reason…. Sorry you monkey lovers, I did not see any monkeys for sale, but they do have birds.)

Next week is JUST DESSERTS! If anyone knows me best, they will understand pasta and wine is just a bonus; dessert is a MUST!

Yours truly,
Roamin' Roman


  1. It is all sounding like a dream to me.
    Living on top of a flea market in Europe?
    Who needs a social life? study? travel?
    All you need is under your nose.
    You still need to learn that they bought what you paid 7 in 1-2 so 5 would really be enough .
    Try and buy whatever you can wash my dear and wash it all in cold water. The water in Europe and Israel are what we call hard water and they can destroy your laundry if you are not careful
    You should have taken 6 necklaces and only pay for 3. I should come on down and help you .lol
    Never been in Rome .

  2. I don't want a bird... I want a Monkey!!!

  3. Hi Alece, it all sounds wonderful, except the no sleeping part! Have you tried wearing your IPOD at night? It's been a life savior for me allowing sleep in noisy environments! I am eager to hear how your cooking is coming along! Love to you, Carolyn

  4. Sounds like I need to send you some earplugs! Speaking of... can't send you any care packages if you don't send me your address, missy!! ;-)

  5. Post traumatic pick pocket syndrome?!? NO THANK YOU!

    <3 Bre