DIY Food Tour of Prati, Roma

As I've mentioned elsewhere I brought four walking tour books to Rome and was determined to use them all. But sometimes you have to create your own walking itinerary which was the case today. Rome  (and the walking tour books) are all about the Romans, the Renaissance and the Baroque and sometimes you just want to see something new. We're interested in the more moderns aspects of the city and wanted to visit Prati, an elegant  Nineteenth Century neighborhood reminiscent of Hausmann's Paris. It's an area that goes from the river close to the Castel San Angelo and the Vatican.
This is an elegant, expensive and less frantic area of Rome. Heavily residential, it is also a destination for shopping and business and is just across the river from the historic center. This is somewhere I'd be very  happy to stay. While Prati doesn't appear in the walking tour books, it is a destination that I came across when looking at food recommendation and so we stitched together our own food itinerary taking in a market, several bakeries, a cafe, and some great shops.
As usual we set off too late, always my fault, and were distracted by other sites - also my fault! It's important to know your own failings, though it  doesn't seem to help me learn from them. I can now tell you with certainty that the Trionfale market closes at 2pm. I'm sure you'll love your visit, everyone says it's great, but we just saw the clearing up which isn't too glamorous! To make up for the market we headed off to our next stop the nearby Panificio Bonci known for its famous bread and pizzas, said to be the best in Rome. After missing the market we needed something, a doughnut helped and the pizza went some way to improving the mood. A sample of Panettone (the Italian Christmas cake) put us right back on track, our DIY food tour was on its way!
Our next stop was the elegant Sciascia Caffe  which has been here since 1919. It's filled with well dressed locals. You walk through to the counter at the back, order your drinks and afterwards you take the receipt to pay on your way out.
We didn't quite work this out the first time but there's no need to go into that! Rome reminds me a great deal of the Soviet Union where you always had to talk to multiple people to purchase one item. Here it seems the owners manage the till. You often see this in food shop,s where you  order what you need at the counter but collect the goods after paying for them at a centralized till.
After our coffee we nipped around the corner to have a quick look at a shop selling nothing but Marrons Glaces or candied chestnuts (above) which I think of as a very old fashioned sweet, but very suitable for Christmas. After this we headed down to another busy shopping street, Via Cola di Rienzo, to visit Castroni and Franchi two fabulous old fashioned purveyor of luxury food stuffs. Both were packed with Romans doing their Christmas shopping.
Castroni is an emporium in that wonderful old fashioned sense. Packed to the gills with food products from all over Italy and the world, I loved it. If they don't have it here maybe you don't need it after all. They even have a British and American section! We resisted the jars of Marmite and boxes of ready-mix American cakes which seemed so incongruous in Rome.

There's also a coffee counter where you can refuel as you go.
At the front of the shop is a counter with coffee and sweets sold by the pound. The wrap the sweets in lovely yellow bags which are irresistible . I loved this shop. I'm not sure quite why Volpetti in Testaccio gets all the press I thought Castroni and Franchi looked unbeatable though you'll have to get over the brusque service which is not as tourist friendly as Volpetti where the staff are true sales people.
Franchi is a large deli with innumerable dried meats and cheeses as you can see below.

We'll definitely be back to Prati, perhaps next time I'll even make it before the market closes!