Mercati di Traiano; Museo dei Fori Imperiali

Trajan’s Markets are located on the opposite side of the Via dei Fori Imperiali from the main Roman Forum. I have walked past them countless times in the past month but never noticed that it is actually possible to go in and walk around just like in the Forum. Perhaps this is because the Forum is always crawling with tourists and large groups with guides whereas Trajan’s Markets are much less well-known and so when I visited, there were only a few other visitors in the Museum. The Museo dei Fori Imperiali is housed in Trajan’s Markets which date from 112 A.D. I wanted to visit the museum for the special exhibit “L’Eleganza del Cibo; Tales about Food and Fashion”. I honestly had no idea when I entered the museum that I would also be able to walk around the ancient ruins.

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The museum houses a wealth of information about Trajan’s Markets and the main Roman Forum as well as about the differentiation between the fora of Caesar, Augustus, Templum Pacis, Nerva, and Trajan. Pieces of decorative features and sculptures found during excavations are presented inside of the museum, having been removed from the outdoor spaces in the area to protect them from the elements. The museum is much larger than I imagined! Mixed amongst with the ancient artifacts was the exhibit about food and fashion, making for an interesting mix of the old and the new.

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“L’Eleganza del Cibo” runs until November 1, so if you are in Rome before then, make sure to go! The exhibit shows the connection between fashion and food, illustrating just one part of our popular culture influenced by food. I loved all of the designer dresses from the past 60 years and the wacky designs influenced by food culture. In the outdoor spaces of the market, the museum is also currently exhibiting “Pablo Atchugarry; Citta Eterna, Eterni Marmi”, marble sculptures by  sculptor from Uruguay. The sculptures seem to fit seamlessly into the ruins of the market, almost as though they were meant to be there all along.

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Another interesting Medieval structure which is included in the museum complex is the Torre delle Milizie, built for defense purposes in the Middle Ages but now leaning slightly to one side. Unfortunately it is not possible to climb to the top of the tower, or I would have been up there in no time!

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However, the panoramic terraces on the top floors of Trajan’s Market provided for beautiful vistas over the fora below and over the domes and rooftops of Rome beyond. I spent almost 2 hours exploring the 5 levels of the museum and very much enjoyed the visit. A stop at the Museo dei Fori Imperiali is essential for any traveler fascinated by the ancient Rome of 2,000 years ago, as well as those who enjoy well curated and interesting temporary exhibits.trajans 6

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