The first time I stumbled across Carmelo’s stall, the sight of box upon box of tomatoes haphazardly stacked on top of one another nearly stopped me in my tracks. The variety of shapes, sizes, colors and patterns of tomatoes is rather dizzying. I had never seen a produce stall like this in any of the nearly two-dozen food markets I had visited in Rome. In that moment I knew that the thin man with the checkered vest and slicked back hair before me was not just any old vendor. I had finally encountered Rome’s legendary Tomato Poet.

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