Rome Travel Guide

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Sunday, December 27, 2015

Oldest Supermarket in Rome: 1961

Tucked away behind the 1960 Olympic Village, where the athletes stayed, and backed up against the busy Lungotevere dell'Aqua Acetosa, is the first grocery store in Rome, or so we hear.  Not the first
store that sold groceries--that would take us back into the 19th century, no doubt--but the first American-style grocery, Rome's first supermarket.  By American standards you won't find it "super"; it's quite modest in size, perhaps a 10th of the floor space of the U.S. equivalent, and not much larger than two 7-11s--maybe 3.

The Carrefourgoncino/Shopping at Home
Nor is the exterior especially noteworthy, though the enormous surface parking lot--room for at least a hundred cars and never close to half full--is, for Rome, a spectacle, and for shoppers, a gift.  Dianne took pleasure in the "Carrefourgoncino"--the store's van, parked right there in the spectacle.  The van's name is a word-play on the name of the market--Carrefour--and the Italian word for van, "furgone."

The banners outside the store's entrance announce that the store is open 24/7.  We haven't tried the place at 3 a.m., but I wouldn't count on getting the baby formula at that hour. 

The best part is the wall to the right as you enter, which you can scan as you're waiting in line to be checked out.  Though it didn't open until 1961, the store was apparently built for the 1960s games.  With that in mind, the current owner/tenant, the Carrefour chain, has mounted half a dozen large photos of athletes at the games.
This section of photos is labeled "La Moda del Villaggio" (Village Style)

The store, as it looked probably in the early 1960s.  
While Dianne was shopping I was photographing the photos.  I have included one of them here, as
well as another of the store in operation sometime in the early 1960s (the signs above the vegetables are vintage early-60s shape).  Then a woman cashier (not the owner or the manager) rushed up, shook her finger, and told me that what I was doing was "proibito."  End of photo session. 

Not far to the west, the underbelly of the architecturally
significant Corso di Francia
And all around, the buildings of the Olympic Village, now residential housing