Known as mercato delle pulci, Rome’s flea markets have their roots in ancient times. They’re a great way to experience an authentic slice of Roman life. And you’ll often find a one-of-a-kind item that becomes a treasured souvenir or a thoughtful gift.
Most visitors to Rome who enjoy flea markets and antique shops know about the Porta Portese market. With 4,000 vendors, it’s one of the biggest flea markets in Europe. And it offers an astonishing array of goods – everything from plastic shoes to 16th-century religious icons.
On our last visit, it was absolutely packed — and sweltering. The junk-to-quality ratio was at least 20-to-one. And we got tired of watching out for pickpockets. To us, Porta Portese is more hassle than it’s worth.
The good news is that there are dozens of Rome flea markets that are less crowded, more accessible, and more fun. Many flea markets only operate between October and June, closing for the hot summer months. Others are open year ‘round.
There’s a nice selection of specialty markets for collectors of old books, prints, antiques, jewelry, and art objects. If you’re in town on a Sunday, there’s probably a flea market somewhere in Rome with your name on it.
Here are some of the best flea markets in Rome:
Mercatino dei Partigiani is held in a parking lot the first Sunday of every month except August. If you’re a bargain hunter, you’ll appreciate the prices here. There’s usually some furniture, WWII collectibles, vintage items, dishes, silver, and an assortment of knick knacks.
Located in Parking Ludovisi not far from the Piazza del Popolo and Via Veneto, Underground is a relative newcomer. On the first Sunday of the month, it has something for everyone – jewelry, old prints and books, cameras, binocular, religious items, and old suitcases.
Ponte Milvio takes place on the first weekend of the month on the banks of the Tiber. It runs all the way to the Ponte Duc d’Aosta. Look for small antiques and collectibles, jewelry, linens, books, old lace, and art.
Borghetto Flaminio is open on the second Saturday and Sunday of each month. It’s located in a couple of warehouses near the Piazza del Popolo gates. For a modest entrance fee, you can explore nearly 250 vendors selling vintage clothing, costume and antique jewelry, handbags, linens, antique objects, and silver.
Also on the second Sunday of the month, nearly one hundred vendors gather in front of Villa Gloria to see a little bit of everything from slightly used designer fashions and sportwear, antiques, old typewriters, bicycles, and books.
Located in a tree-lined piazza not far from the Tiber in the Prati district, Piazza Mazzini offers more pleasant surroundings than some of Rome’s markets. They usually have around 80 vendors, and they’re open the second Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of the month except in August.
Via Sannio is your best bet if you’re only in town during the week. It’s open Monday through Saturday and located under the Aurelian walls. There’s no telling what you’ll find here. But clothes for almost any occasion, Army surplus items, camping gear, and shoes are always on hand.
Collectors interested in books, etchings, engravings, comics, and magazines should visit Mercato delle Stampe which is not far from Piazza Navona. It’s open Monday through Saturday mornings.
On the first and third Sundays, Soffito Sotto i Portici takes place in Piazza Augusto Imperatore, not far from the Spanish Steps. Lots of cool, old objects here, including pocket watches, cameras, jewelry, candlesticks, picture frames, and toys.
Held the fourth Sunday of the month on a square in stylish Parioli, Piazza Verdi has all kinds of vintage items and antiques. Look for fine china and glassware, jewelry, silver, crafts, rare books, musical instruments, and linens.
If you want to visit Porta Portese, go early – it opens every Sunday at dawn – enter from Piazza Ippolito Nievo, and keep a close watch on your purse or wallet. Bargain hard, but don’t expect great deals even if you do.
1) Mercatino dei Partigiani
3) Ponte Milvio
4) Borghetto Flaminio
5) Villa Gloria
6) Piazza Mazzini
7) Via Sannio
8) Mercatio della Stampe
9) Soffito Sotto I Portici
10) Piazza Verdi
11) Porta Portese
View Rome’s best flea markets in a larger map
Porta Portese market and Porta Portese trinkets Image Flickr: krynn1978