Sunday 18 May 2008

Rotten Fruit at Italian Markets

Yesterday my parents and I went to a little market in the centre of Rome and bought some fruit. The prices were very reasonable and the quality seemed fresh and wholesome - but here in Italy normally you cannot touch the fruit and vegetables, you ask for what you want and the shop attendant places them in a bag for you.

All good and well if you are a local, however the Italian's are notorious for ripping off the poor tourists. I know this so once we had our goods I opened the bag to inspect my fruit. Just as I guessed they had put the nice peaches up the top and two rotten ones down the bottom. It is always the same old story and believe me it is not just the tourists who get this treatment, but the 'foreign Italians' too. I marched promptly back from the shop and in a loud voice told the lady that she had given me rotten fruit! 'Oh scusi, scusi...' Sorry...sorry...she says rushing over and asking me to select my own replacements.

Scusi...scusi...She was not sorry! I am however not a tourist and I will not be ripped off!

My colleague from Sicily who is from the north of Italy tells me she was treated the same in Taormina at the local market. She used to go and buy her vegetables then walk home, and each week they put rotten tomatoes in her bag. Furious, one day she marched down to the market and told the old fruit vendor that she was not a tourist and that even though her accent is clearly from the north, she lived just up the road. Red faced he apologised and from then on she only got the best tomatoes.


Delina said...

Sounds like Naples. Brava for going back. Lately I prefer to go to the supermarket where you pick your own. It's more expensive per kilo, but at least you get a kilo of good stuff instead of half a kilo of rot and half a kilo which you can eat.

Leanne was in Italy now in Australia said...

Hi Delina,
Yes I know what you mean - normally I go to the supermarket too which means I don't have to argue with fruit vendors or I don't have to throw any rotten things in the bin!

Anonymous said...

Brava for going back and showing them it's not right! I think a HUGE part of the problem is most tourists can't be bothered going through the hassle of returning & yelling (language barrier issue too) so many market vendors assume that anyone with a foreign accent is a tourist that they can rip off. It's sickening in my opinion, especially in a country and a city like Rome that THRIVE off of tourism.
I go to the Testaccio market and most stands let you pick your own fruit, and after 4-5 years, I've yet to be ripped off (or at least I'm not aware of it!)

Kataroma said...

I actually pick out my own fruit and veg when I do my weekly shopping at the Piazza Vittorio (or Esquilino) markets. Maybe that's because the guys I buy my veg from are Polish although my fruit vendors are Italian.

I've had to try several stalls before I found ones which both had good fruit/veg and were honest. I'm now a regular so I get a little something extra whenever I go there too. :)

Leanne was in Italy now in Australia said...

I have never been to the Testaccio market, but it is not so far from where I live so perhaps I should check it out. Maybe they are more honest there!

Hi Kataroma,
I have heard of the Piazza Vittorio market, and used to always be around that area but never have set foot in the market. I have heard it is good so looks like I have a few markets to check out! Thanks

Anonymous said...

I cannot believe they try and give you rotten fruit! So sneaky of them. Good thing you did not let them get away with it.

Leanne was in Italy now in Australia said...

Hi Jill,
It is sneaky of them...but what can you do except give the rotten fruit back (for them to give the next tourist I am sure!)

Kataroma said...

I think the difference is that there are NO tourists at the Piazza Vittorio markets. You still need to be a little careful though.

My veg stall and fruit stall are right across from eachother. I don't know the stall numbers but just go in entrance #12 and go straight ahead around 10 meters and you'll see fruit on the right and veg on the left. These stalls have great fruit and veg and I've never had them try to cheat me.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

No they didn't! I guess I have been pretty lucky. My Italian is still pretty rusty and as a black american woman I think it's pretty obvious to them I'm not Italian. ha

I go to the Campo de Fiori market which is closest to me or Testaccio if I have time. I wish someone would put some rotten fruit in my bag. One thing that is not rusty is my knowledge of Italian curse words.

Leanne was in Italy now in Australia said...

Katarome - Thanks for the info as to which is your fruit store. I shall be paying them a visit I think.

Hi nyc/caribbean ragazza,
The Campo dei Fiori market is so pretty isn't it with all those flowers. If you want rotten fruit then head up towards the Termini station more near Santa Maria Maggiore and the Theatre - in there is the rotten fruit market that I went to!