Going to the Roman Flower market
Although years have passed, the alarm for getting in time to the flower market in Rome on Tuesdays at 5.00 is always traumatic! Of course not before a proper full mokka espresso. We come to the market looking for the weekly flowers for our subscribers delivery. We see many light blue hydrangeas, that at the same period last year were still not ready! Flower production is so beautifully unpredictable.
Most producers of fresh cut flowers get to the market after midnight to unload materials avoiding hot temperatures of Italian summers.
A quiet Dawn, but a lot of noise inside
Within the silence of the Roman dawn, in the historical and popular Prati district, florists get out of this silence and into the loud reality of the flower market in Rome, that has been awake for hours. We hear shouting in different dialects of each region around Rome. Creating an explosion of the traditional floral industry life that within the next few hours will come to an end and most of the people working will get to sleep. And probably, if nothing happens, in the next decade or two will go to sleep forever.
Imported flowers are killing the Italian traditional producers Industry who is not able to export. This would translate in an incredible local human loss. I will introduce you to some of the people I am afraid of not being able to continue with their flower wholesale business.
On the way to the flower market in Rome you might pass by Valentino, who punctually greets you by shouting “ciao belli!" (Literally this means “hi gorgeous”. Despite the fact no one can be gorgeous at this time, it still good for my self esteem). Valentino always greets everyone with al lot of enthusiasm, despite his job. Valentino, and his father before him, takes care of the funeral arrangements. He is a Funeral Florist! But he is not the classical representative man of this sector, because is not dressed in black.
Valentino wears a Hawaiian shirt! And then you can see the heads of garlic and red horns are hanging everywhere from the ceiling of his laboratory. (And sometimes even around his neck). They guarantee good luck, as per Neapolitan tradition. And if he can, he always tries to put one in your pocket to prevent him having to prepare arrangements any time soon for you. “You never know; the important thing is that you are careful not to break the tip!"
Meanwhile in the Roman fresh market, where voices get even more intense and loud when it is getting later in the morning, some pigeons and cats pass by, the producers and growers who have been working all night, take a short break. They talk about the weekend, while they eat a sandwich with mortadella ("Mortazza" in Roman dialect).