Off to the Market in Florence

A quintessential Italian routine is that of visiting, shopping, and bargaining at markets. Find everything from dried fruits, fresh cheeses, meats, olive oil, clothing, fragrant flowers, and books at one of the many unique markets in Florence.

Leather Galore in Florence's Famous Outdoor Market

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by airynfaerie on October 8, 2009

When visitors to Italy's famous Renaissance city of Florence think of outdoor markets, more than likely the large San Lorenzo market is the first to come to mind. Tourists and locals meet at this daily market to buy items from leather coats, handbags, and hats, to linens, t-shirts, and handmade souvenirs.

Located on the streets surrounding the San Lorenzo Church, and open Tuesday to Saturday (and first Sunday of the month) 7:30am to 7pm, there are vendors and stalls with products varied enough to please the most picky of shoppers. Covered stalls line the streets between the church and the busy Via Nazionale, and stay open rain or shine. Be prepared to bargain, as this is one of the best markets to shop around. So many vendors sell similar items that if you don't get a price you like with one seller, don't hesitate to walk to another stall.

If you've come to Italy with a list of leather goods to buy, this market is a great place to check a few items off your shopping list. Leather sellers (pelletteria) are abundant and offer belts, coats, shoes, wallets, bracelets, bound books, and more...and many of the vendors are connected with the shops that line the streets behind the stalls. So if you don't see something you like, or your perfect size, don't worry, as many of them can take you into the shop to look at a bigger selection.

Just a couple blocks from the Duomo, the San Lorenzo area is a convenient stop and the church is worth checking out while you're visiting the market. It's one of the oldest churches in Florence and houses the famous Medici Chapel. Don't miss taking a gander in the Mercato Centrale which is the indoor market connected to the San Lorenzo market and offers fresh produce, meats, and cheeses.

Open Tu-Sa, 1st Su of each month 7:30am - 7pm
Admission Free
San Lorenzo Market
Piazza San Lorenzo
Florence, Italy, 50123

Florence's Flea Market

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by airynfaerie on October 7, 2009

Mercato delle Pulci

Bric-a-brac galore reside at this unique flea market held under an old loggia in the heart of the Sant' Ambrogio area of Florence. If it's old coins, collectables, furniture, antique postcards, jewelry, or dusty books you're looking for, then this is the market for you.

Known as Florence's Flea Market, the Mercato delle Pulci takes place in the beautiful Piazza dei Ciompi and is set up under partially covered walkways of a mix of permanent and temporary stalls. Some stalls are quite large and set up as small shops. Wander up the stairs that line the market border on the street side and then down again into the stall area, where you'll find tables full of piles of antiques. Even though this market isn't very large, one can spend quite a bit of time rummaging through all the pieces of unorganized knick-knacks.

Officially, this daily market is called the "Mercatino" delle Pulci meaning "small market", and takes place Monday through Saturday. But on the last Sunday of each month, this small market turns in to a full blown market spilling a little into the surrounding streets and offering a wider variety of products for the shoppers.

If you're looking for fresh produce or meats and cheeses, you'd best walk a few more blocks to the Mercato di Sant' Ambrogio...but if you're looking for something unique, old, and dusty, take a peek into the Mercato delle Pulci!

Piazza dei Ciompi
Florence 50122 Italy
Mercatino Open 8am - 8pm Mon-Sat
Mercato Open last Sun of the month

Florence Largest (and Longest) Market

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by airynfaerie on October 7, 2009

Not only is the Cascine Park the largest park in Florence, and offer plenty of things to do such as cricket, bike trails, basketball courts, public swimming pool, tennis court, fountains and a mile-long river bank on which to relax...but it also is home to one of Florence's largest weekly markets.

Every tuesday morning, Florentines and tourists alike gather to walk the line of stalls over 1km long, looking for a nice stroll and some good bargains. Everything, from fruits and vegetables, fair food, used and new clothing and shoes, to general groceries, jewelry, housewares, antiques, and plants can be found in this bustling market.

Located at the western part of the city center, Cascine Park offers parking near the main entrance off Piazza Vittorio Veneto, and excellent bike and pedestrian trails to get to the start of the stalls. Bring comfortable walking shoes and plan to spend about 1-2 hours if you want tow walk the entire length of the market. Of course, the further you go, the more repeats you see in the offerings of wares, although one can find a bargain or unique item if looking hard enough. The prices here for most things

After you stroll through the market stalls, grab a sandwich or fried pastry on your way out and loop back towards the park entrance on the walkway more inland from the river. Here you'll escape the market crowds, and instead enjoy views of the park's fountains and sport courts sure to be filled with children and adults playing and exercising.

Open from 8 am to 2 pm on Tuesdays (Open on the Sundays during the Easter season)
Cascine Park Market
Piazza Vittorio Veneto
Florence, Italy

A Market Favored by Locals

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by airynfaerie on October 7, 2009

While living in Florence for a year, shopping at markets became part of a normal routine. Finding a market with good variety, good prices, and good people was important. Although a little walk away from the heart of the city center, Mercato di Sant' Ambrogio fit the bill.

Offering a large covered outdoor open stall market where vendors sell seasonal fruits, vegetables, cheeses, spices, breads, and marinated olives on one side and used clothes, houseplants, rugs, kitchen tools, linens, and furniture on the other sides. All these stalls surround the main building, which is an industrial building from the 1860s and offers a smaller, one-story version of the larger Mercato Centrale in the city center.

Inside,shoppers can pick from a variety of meats, cheeses, oils, wines, and warm bread. If it makes you hungry to be around such fresh foods without eating, don't despair. There's a very inexpensive trattoria inside where you can sample authentic Tuscan dishes, or sit at the corner bar for a freshly baked pastry.

The majority of shoppers at this market are locals, and it's small enough that if you visit regularly, you can begin to learn the names of the vendors and create a good rapport. Who knows, maybe if you give them a nice smile, they'll throw in an extra artichoke for you!

Open 7am - 2pm Mon-Sat
Mercato Ambrogio
In Piazza Ghiberti and Piazza Sant'Ambrogio
Florence, Italy

A Look Into the Often-Missed Interior Market

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by airynfaerie on October 7, 2009

When you mention the San Lorenzo Market in Florence, most people think of the rows of open stalls selling leather, porcelain trinkets, hats, and purses that line the streets around the great church of San Lorenzo. But there is another part of this market that many people miss, and a lot of visitors don't even know about. Just off Via Dell'Ariento, there is an industrial looking building which was built in the late 1800s, painted with a deep green and red, which houses the interior food section of the larger market event.

This two-story covered market offers an unending variety of foods dried, fresh, bottled, pickled, preserved, and prepared. The first floor is home to the butchers, cheese-makers, oils/truffles/spices, wines, and a few note-worthy cafes. If you're at all squeamish about seeing (or smelling) raw meat, this may not be the place for you, as vendors sell everything from skinned rabbits, whole chickens (with heads), and innards (brain, tongue, intestines, spleens,eyeballs,etc), to pig heads, stuffed stomach linings, and fresh sausage. Hold your breath at least long enough to buy some of the amazing cheese offerings. Pecorino, buffalo mozzarella, and parmesan are some of the traditional favorites that never disappoint. (And the aged cheeses can be wrapped specifically for international transport if you'd like, so be sure to ask!)

Visit some of the shop-like stalls selling wines, dried porchino mushrooms, truffle salts, and of course high quality olive oil. There are even several sit-down (or stand-up) bar side type cafes that offer great homemade food at good prices. Note many locals dining at these for a quick lunch during the workdays.

Next head upstairs to the vegetarian heaven! Stop and sample the most flavorful concord grapes, a leaf of peppery arugula, or a slice of fresh pear. Of course, you'll only find the fruits and veggies that are currently in season, so don't expect to see oranges in autumn. Chose a bag full of different dried fruits and nuts to snack on (ginger, coconut, cherries, almonds, and bananas), and then linger as all the colors of this floor of the market soak in to your line of vision.

Bargaining is normal, although many prices are marked on signs (usually for things sold at a weight). Don't pick up or touch the produce, as it's customary for the vendor to choose the best pieces for you and touching could be considered rude.

Overall, just get ready for a senses explosion and take your time wandering through this energetic and colorful place.

Open 7am - 2pm Mon-Sat
Mercato Centrale
Inside the San Lorenzo central market (in Via dell'Ariento)
Florence, Italy

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