On one of my first weekends here in Rome, my roommate invited me to come to a market in Trastevere. I immediately pictured your typical farmers market, a street or two of vendors selling fresh fruit, honey, and pastries. When we arrived at Porta Portese early that Sunday morning I was surprised to find a very different kind of market. There was a seemingly endless street packed with vendors selling everything from makeup to shoes to home supplies. Best of all were piles and piles of clothes for as little as 1 euro. It was heaven on earth.
I soon learned that Porta Portese is one of the most well-known markets in Rome because it is also the largest market in Rome. Every Sunday from 7:00 to 2:00, hundreds of vendors line the streets. For anyone who loves vintage items and clothing, this should be at the top of your list during your time in Rome. Almost every weekend I find myself coming back to explore.
For those looking for clothing, I have a few tips for navigating the market, as it can be very easy to get overwhelmed.
- Make sure you have the stamina to walk for several hours and the motivation to dig through piles of clothing. If you have ever been to the Goodwill bins, you know how tiring it can be.
- You also want to make sure you are only taking as much money as you want to spend. Most places only accept cash, and because it’s very crowded you want to be wary of pickpockets. This also keeps you from overspending.
- If you're going in a large group, make sure to have a plan in place in case you get split up. The cell reception isn’t great and it’s easy to lose your friends in the crowds.
- If you are looking at places that have hanging clothing or large collections of bags, be a little cautious about prices. In my experience, many of these places sell the same things and you should check around to ensure you're getting a fair price. They are also very likely to haggle with you. My advice is that as soon as they start trying to haggle, you leave. I have had many friends get backed into buying something they didn’t really want because of how insistent the workers can be.
- Check out as much of it as you can! The first two times I went I thought I had seen a lot, but on my third time at Porta Portese, I made it my goal to go as far as I could. That’s when I realized that I had hardly seen any of it the past two trips. There is so much to explore.
- For those who are looking for vintage items, my recommendation would be to go down the side streets. The main strip has a mix of everything, but the edges of the side streets felt like they were aimed more at the locals. There were lots of vintage jewelry, books, and random car parts. Those stands felt sort of like a bunch of mini garage sales.