Rome Travel Guide

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Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Shopping again in Rome - a feast for the eyes

Part of the sweets counter at our favorite coffee bar/pasticceria (pastry shop) off Piazza Mazzini.
Do you believe all those jells and marzipan, not to mention the mini cakes?

My number came up at "Piccolo Forno" (which means "small oven" or
in essence a baked goods shop).
Back to shopping.  This time not signs, but sights - some of the ones that make us drool, make us buy, make us look, make us crazy.

In addition to the delectable-looking sweets above, we enjoyed scanning the many breads and other foods in this not-so-small Piccolo Forno (photo left), which had just about any kind of prepared food (stuffed tomatoes? pasta? salami?), along with breads and rolls. It attracted a crowd, as you can see.  We had to figure out how to take a number and wait our turn (not the easiest thing to do among Italians). Only about 1/3 of the counter space is shown in this photo.  The forno was in a large indoor public market.

Hoverboard shopper checking out at our local
(when we lived in the Salaria neighborhood)
small-sized Carrefour market. Notable and
customary - the cashier sits rather than stands;
you bag your own groceries; you pay for the bag
 (as now in New York and Los Angeles).
Re the customer - he's on a board that lights up.
Besides vistas of incredibly tasting looking offerings, there are strange sights, like the shopper at left on a "hoverboard."  In trying to figure out if this was even legal in Rome (it shouldn't be; we pedestrians need to survive), I learned that, although the vendors have gone out of business where we live in Los Angeles, the state of California allows these devices. And in London apparently one can buy them, but they are banned under the 1835 Highways Act, which states people cannot use the footway (sidewalk? marciapiedi?) to “lead or drive any horse, ass, sheep, mule, swine, or cattle or carriage of any description” which list apparently includes hoverboards.

One of the crowded aisles in a "casalinghi"

We typically spread our food shopping among large (not in the US sense) markets, small markets, chains, family-run places, and mini markets (the last about which we've written before - many run by Egyptians and Bangladeshi). One of our go-to places for non-food items is the "casalinghi" or "housewares" store. In Rome, these are almost all run by Chinese immigrants, and carry very inexpensive (as well as pretty flimsy) goods of all types - think Dollar Stores (photo right).  The aisles are always crammed and narrow, and often you have to ask one of the store employees (who speak varying levels of Italian) where something is.  And someone in the store can find in a nook or cranny somewhere that child's potty chair, those hangers, or that candle. Bill and I still recall being in a casalinghi and asking for candles. The woman at the register yelled at the top of her lungs "candele!, candele!", and out popped another employee leading us to the candles "section" of the store.

And, finally (for this shopping installment), below is a sight from the Centro - the center of old Rome where there are still artisan shops. Here the proprietor is advertising and showing off his or her goods by hanging them outside, in front of the store, on an "Ape" truck (we've written about the "ape" - or "bee" truck previously - it sounds like a bee with its tiny motor and 3 wheels).

You might also note here the bicycle tucked into a parking space behind a scooter, and the Ape tucked into a space supposedly limited to scooter parking, taking up an area that would hold 4-6 scooters (when you drive a scooter
- and have to park it - you notice these things).


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