The Italian Market
Toss the guy an orange, you’re Italian
Vegetable vendors, butchers, fresh seafood and Italian goodies of all kinds can be found in this legendary district which is part of Rocky’s training ground during his daily run through South Philly (featured in Rocky and Rocky II).
The Champ returned to this popular area to run through the market again with Tommy Gunn, and years later in Rocky Balboa he was seen buying fresh food for Adrian’s Restaurant. Rocky’s protege, Adonis Creed, took to the market’s thoroughfare in 2015’s Creed as he jogged here alone.
For the original Rocky, the film crew shot-and-ran during the filming of scenes such as Rocky Balboa’s run through the Italian Market, proceeding without permits and without having to clear the streets. When Sylvester Stallone initially ran through the Market (and around other parts of Philadelphia), he was completely unknown, so no crowds of fans pushed in on the small production crew in 1976.
At the time Rocky was being filmed, in that whirlwind 28-day shoot, Talia Shire had never visited Philadelphia before. When asked about the Italian Market at the time, she said: “That area is very depressing … horrible.”
The memorable moment in which one of the Italian Market’s vendors tosses Rocky an orange as he runs past happened completely spontaneously. The market vendor was unaware that a film was being shot and just happened to throw an orange to the grungy jogger in the gray sweatsuit. The moment looked great on film and was left in the final print to become part of Rocky movie history.
Hey, Paisan! Get your Italian Meats, Cheeses and Breads Here!
Every merchant on the block has their own Rocky story. “Chef’s Tours” of the street are available for individuals and groups.
The Italian Market is a hotspot for locals and Philly tourists alike, billing itself as “America’s Oldest Outdoor Market”. Indeed, this ethnic community began gathering in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and was for many years known as the 9th Street Market. It wasn’t until the 1970’s that it became known as the “Italian Market”.
Each Spring, to coincide with the Roman Catholic tradition of the Procession of the Saints, the Market holds an Italian Festival in May during which the vendors offer samples of all of their delicious Italian meats, cheeses, breads and other tempting treats, along with live entertainment.
The Italian Market is only a few blocks away from Rocky’s other foodie hangout, Pat’s King of Steaks. Be aware that the market is closed on Mondays. If you want a Rocky photo op, this isn’t a bad thing. Bring your own orange and a friend on a Monday to get some snapshots without hordes of visitors in the background.