Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Porta Portese: A Bargain Hunter's Market (Rome, Italy)

by Francesca Edwards

Well known as one of the fashion capitals of the world, Rome has always been a hotspot for shopping. The magnificently luxurious streets of Via Condotti and Via del Corso are home to many of the Kings and Queens of the fashion industry; Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Prada to name a few. However, once you’ve spent enough time dribbling over Fendi’s latest bag collection you may want to consider a more affordable and equally enjoyable option to get some serious shopping done. Flea markets in Rome are by no means your traditional village markets by any standard. Extremely popular with locals, the mystery behind how Italians can always afford to keep on top of the latest fashion trends becomes apparent here.

The biggest and most popular market in Rome is easily Porta Portese. This fabulous haven of treasures can be found every Sunday from the crack of dawn, come rain, snow or sun. The market starts from the Porta Portese gate (hence the name) and stretches all the way to Trastevere train station, running parallel along the left bank of the River Tiber. As far as the eye can see, there are stalls selling almost anything and everything imaginable.

Here you can find the latest fashion trends, electrical goods, souvenirs and knickknacks at more than reasonable prices! And if you’re really desperate for that, D&G bag there is also a wide range of illegal (yet irresistible!) imitations to be found. The market is also a very well known for its antique section, where bargain hunters have the chance to walk away with a vintage replica of Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper or a French decetoire period chest of drawers for their dining room. For those who have a real keen eye for a bargain, then it is definitely worth checking out the second hand stalls. On first glance it may appear to be a pile of mismatched shoes, or unloved bags, but as they say one man’s junk is another man’s treasure!

The sights, sounds and smells of the market give Porta Portese a hectic atmosphere. Be prepared to chat to friendly stall sellers, and watch out ladies, it’s not unheard of to get a marriage proposal or two whilst browsing for shoes!

When you’re feeling hungry Porta Portese is also the perfect place for you to grab a porchetta sandwich, this typically Roman ‘delicacy’ always hits the spot.

When in Rome haggle like a Roman:

Don’t buy from the first stall you see. You will often find that something that is 5 Euro on one stall will be 4 a few metres down the line. As a general rule for Porta Portese, the further away from Trastevere train station the more prices drop. Since not as many people make it all the way to the bitter end and sellers here are hoping to attract the final few with competitive prices.

• Remember that the best way to strike a deal or knock down the price of something is when you wish to purchase multiple items. This makes it easier to offer a set price for both.

Do not let yourself get bullied. If you are an impulsive buyer or easily persuaded into buying things you never knew you wanted, then be alert! Market sellers can spot a foreigner a mile off and as soon as you so much as catch their eye, they can be very pushy. Before you go, practise saying ‘NO’ like you mean it.

Keep an eye on your belongings. As with being a foreigner in any large city you are more susceptible to pick pocketing. Porta Portese does have a bad reputation for pick pockets, however as long as you apply common sense and keep an eye on your valuables, you shouldn’t experience any problems.
Now you know how to haggle like a Roman whilst on your holidays why not try living like one by booking one of the many Rome apartments for rent available in the city? This is a great option if you want to easily explore of Rome’s beautiful tourist attractions and of course if you want to head to the market. To get there all you need to do is hop on the train from Roma San Pietro station and you will be testing out your bargaining skills in less than 15 minutes!

Photo Credits: market, bearded man, clothing stall, mirrors


sana said...

This is what I was looking for from last week. Great work done. :)

Sherry said...

I'm going to be in Rome in March - will check it out. I love European markets - yummy food and such characters to meet!

Mark H said...

@sana: Welcome. I'm glad this article helped you.

Mark H said...

@sherry: I'm with you - European markets are really grand fun with their food (and lots of samples too...).

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