The heretics piazza – many a soul of Rome here
Campo dei Fiori (otherwise known as just “Campo”) is one of the few Piazzas, a significant Piazza that it is, in the heart of Rome without a church! That’s a big deal here! Why? Well, for centuries Campo was where the heretics and “criminals” were brought for public executions. Not a pleasant thing to hear I know, but an historical fact. So didn’t quite seem appropriate to set up a church here for that reason it seems!
The large and social piazza is instead adorned with an awe inspiring statue of Giordano Bruno. He was a Dominican Friar, philosopher, mathematician and astronomer. I like him already. He was tried by the Roma Inquisition for heresy and believing in the divine universal rather than one God-figure. In 1600 he was burnt alive with the statue marking the spot of his demise. A sobering thought but his presence through that statue is positively incredible. Ironically, directly facing Vatican City too, hi there!!
Quite the alchemist it seems, Giordano Bruno was honoured for his contribution to the history of free thought and the emerging sciences.
A walking tour with the Italian school I went to informed us, he was dubbed a “martyr for science” and “martyr to freedom of thought” in the 19th and 20th century
following his infamous death and what it represented for philosophy, mathematics, astronomy and non-religious, universal beliefs.
While we stayed in the B&B at Campo upon our arrival to set up home in Rome, our window had a direct view to this statue. During my 4am or 5am internal “you’ve-got-to-write-this” alarm, I’d gather some inspiration leaning out the window for a bit. Watching Bruno, illuminated by the golden piazza light. Truly magical in an empty piazza early hours of the morning. A quick Good Morning to the philosopher and my writer was ready to go! Over the day, many sit by his feet to eat lunch, have a snack or be entertained by the many street entertainers in Rome. Music, capoeira and vendors a plenty. A photo with him behind you and over your shoulder is a must!
Campo dei Fiori delights
Once you’ve been inspired visiting Bruno and refreshed with a multitude of restaurant choices, of course you need to make the most of other splendid options that Campo dei Fiori offers. More on those in a moment but a little geography mention for the moment. Off this central piazza you have Via dei Giubbonari, Via dei Baullari and Via dei Cappellari. Many of the street names here give a window into the artisans and craftsmen in history who sold the wares of their vocation here. Via dei Giubbonari had craftsmen who tailored coats (giubbotto!), so Giubbonari being the coat-makers. Via dei Cappellari had vocational artisans making hats (cappello), so Cappellari being the hat makers, or milliners in the modern day. Via dei Baullari…. The coffee-makers. I love it.
Let the penthouse be your landmark
If you’ve downloaded your free guide to the “Top 10 Off-the-beaten-track spots to visit in Rome” (download here) you will have read about the penthouse option right in the Campo piazza. Close to the hub yet far enough to enjoy it with peace “at home”. I mentioned that from this penthouse, you are situated with richness at your doorstep.
As you exit the penthouse building, Rome’s historical bakery is just to your left, called IL Forno (literally “the oven” but socially the name of a bakery!). Amazing fresh bread and incredible focaccia sandwiches or pizza during the day. You’ll see all the workers go there for lunch and standing out in the piazza hoeing into their focaccias. They are rather delicious.
Turn left toward the baker and then left again in Via dei Galli, there you’ll find a local cheese store. Take your pick of several varieties of ricotta, parmigiano reggiano,
pecorino and mozzarella. We learnt a couple of recipes with these last three cheeses during a cooking demonstration, I’ll have a couple of blogs on their way to talk more about this, watch this space! A specific mention to make with this cheese store, their lemon infused baked ricotta, oh my, to die for! It’s like eating all the lemon cheesecake you would want without the guilt!
Exit the penthouse building and this time, go straight ahead across the piazza and over to the right, into a deli with cured meats and salami galore hanging everywhere. The amazing smell envelopes you. Prosciutto (a delicacy of raw cured ham), bacon and salami options to your heart’s content. Go in and try their variety on their tasting plate. It’s my local meats store, we take a walk here to stock up on our prosciutto, bacon and salami, with chilli of course! I even got a cup of wine while I did my weekly shop, nice.
As you turn right out of the building, then a hard right again, you’ll enjoy Via dei Baullari. A choice of eateries, clothes, shoes and
jewellery, you’ll eventually reach Piazza Farnese. A magnificent fountain adorns the Piazza as you walk toward the French Embassy. A building initially designed for a wealthy cardinal who after his first architect passed away, building only 2 of the 3 floors, he commissioned Michaelangelo to complete the 3rd floor. So some of Michaelangelo’s affresco’s can be viewed in the French Embassy building (where the military guards are!), but by appointment only.
Last but not least, turn right once you exit the building and walk straight into MORE delightful choices of food, clothes, shoes and
delis on Via di Gubbionari. Via dei Gubbionari is a busy strip. The clothes and jewellery and food delights here could easily see you visiting 2-3 times.
Oh, last but not least, I didn’t mention the market at Campo dei Fiori, which Bruno keeps a domineering watch over during the day!! Need to get gifts, fruit & vegetables, local foods and spices? Be sure to visit the Campo dei Fiori market early in the day, because it simply disappears around 2pm. Then the piazza is clear for evening socialising and Bruno becomes a lit up guardian of a changed vibe in Campo. Soccer fans, this is your Piazza to watch the games, beware it can get rowdy!
A lazy morning in busy Campo or evening to dine in social Campo will see you pass a couple of hours here, strolling in its ongoing activity. Be sure to say Hi to Bruno there, if I don’t see you having a sandwich there by his feet.
Have you been to Campo and tried the Forno, meats deli or cheese shop? How was it for you? Let us know – www.facebook.com/roaminrome