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Visiting Rome’s Testaccio Market and Marcello Mastroianni’s Cousin

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Grocery shopping in Rome, Italy at the covered Testaccio market means taking home a little piece of the Eternal City every time.

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And there are two very important figures in the Rome Testaccio market: the Sicilian tomato guy–who before selling you a vine-ripened heirloom or an ox heart will ask you exactly what recipe you’ll be needing it for before approving your choice–and Marcello Mastroianni’s cousin.

The latter, Alvaro is his name, wakes up at 4 a.m. each morning and unloads crates of freshly caught fish from the docks in the Fiumicino harbor. Then he stocks up his van and drives to his colorful stall in the Roman foodie heaven mercato, where along with his treasures of the sea, he sells wonderful cinema stories of his handsome cousin, Marcello, to his aficionado customers.

There’s a photo of young Alvaro and Marcello, hanging above the huge swordfish heads and ice-packed crates of sardines and writhing octopi. The two cousins in the photo are laughing in the sun, clutched in a beautiful embrace.

Alvaro’s stall is open year round, from 8:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Monday to Saturday.

“And Sunday?” I ask.

“That’s when I go to the movies!”

About the author

American-born and Roman-bred Eleonora Baldwin is an active writer, blogger, journalist, gourmet vacation entrepreneur and photographer living in the Eternal City. Her writing appears regularly in several online food and travel columns that focus on Italian lifestyle, culinary customs and recipes, as well as her soon-to-be released cookbook-memoir, due for publication in 2016. Her blogs illustrate dishes, restaurant reviews, and useful tools for parents travelling with kids in Rome. On Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino, her most popular blog, Eleonora shared her insider knowledge about the depth of Italian cuisine. She can be spotted in and around the Eternal City guiding epicure travelers to secret food and wine locations, interviewing celebrity chefs, and capturing with her camera the essence, beauty and life that surrounds her.

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