Visiting a market in Italy

Chiavari Lucca Campo de' Fiori (Rom)
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For an authentic experience we advise you to explore the following market suggestions and to get inspired to visit one during your holiday. Just note that these are only a grasp of the countless market experiences that exist in Italy. Most cities have for their own market or can refer to one nearby. So no matter which part of Italy you choose, there will be an opportunity within reach, you should not miss.

Very good market day!


Sicily's outdoor market tradition dates back to the ninth century, when the Saracens ruled the island. It also explains why markets show a striking resemblance to the Arab bazaars and market names such as Ballarò in Palermo. Almost every city or town has its "mercatino" (small market), which is open once a week. Here we will concentrate on the island's most comprehensive fixed markets in the two largest cities of Palermo and Catania. Here they sell Italian and foreign goods and a colorful variety of fruits, vegetables, fish and meat comes. All coming from the island that has the warm climate as its greatest strength. The eye has a hard time finding rest since the stalls are bursting out with seasonal fruit and vegetables in fantastic colors, bundles of fresh herbs, fragrant and colorful flowers, squid, nice big tuna, moray eels, swordfish, shrimp, lamb, pig and calf, bread and cheese. And this is only the beginning of the food scale! Sometimes you also meet a seller with no fixed items trying to sell his cell phones or other things that cannot be eaten, but often these items are of dubious quality (and origin!)


The city has three major markets; Vucceria, Ballarò and Il Capo, all famous throughout Italy for their fantastic range of commodities in very good quality. Vucceria and Ballarò are usually open all day from 9.00. to 19.00 (except Wednesday, when they close at. 14, and Sunday, which is completely closed). Il Capo is open every morning - even on Sundays.

La Vucceria
If you have been in Arabia, and here we mean the real Arabia, not a beach resort, you will recognize the atmosphere at this central food market. We are in the midst of the city, and you do not need to move a lot before walking in the chic clothing stores, banks and everything else that belongs to a modern metropolis. As long as you are on La Vucceria, time seems to have stood still for the last centuries. They are selling vegetables, fruits, fish, meat, spices and more. Here is it chaotic, dirty, and infinitely fascinating. Think that something like this can survive amidst of a vibrant city! On the small main square Piazza Caracciolo, where all activity seems to meet and come from, you will often be able to buy sandwiches from a small bod, a rich and truly authentic meal. You can also dine at one of the few restaurants in the area. We can recommend Il Maestro del Brodo, even a simple soup kitchen, now a restaurant with good food, selling at reasonable prices and many local guests.

If La Vucceria, to your taste, is a little too much visited by other foreigners, try one of the city's street markets, namely Ballarò that is far larger, far more original and virtually tourist-free. The market stretches from Piazza Ballarò in Albergheria district (near the church of San Nicolò) along Via Ballarò past Piazza Carmine towards Corso Tukory, roughly parallel to Via Maqueda towards the main train station.

Il Capo
This street market is one of Palermo's largest and perhaps the city's busiest. Its Arab origin is very clear, and it is certainly worth a visit. Especially in the morning when the mood of boisterous outbursts and stress are at its peak. They sell all kinds of food and the stalls with seafood is particularly appreciated. Follow Via Voltorno, which runs behind the theater Teatro Massimo - about 300 m. On your left you will see the old city gate Porta Carini, and here you turn left. Il Capo is open every morning and gets on Sundays a little more peaceful.


A fera o luni
No one should stay in Catania without visiting the market A fera o luni , which actually (in local dialect) means Monday market as probably it was only open on this one day of the week 'in the old days'. Now here it is open every day from approximately 8:00 to 13:00 (except Sundays) and it is a true Mecca for gourmets, where all culinary desires can be fulfilled! Looking instead for a new dress or a pair of shoes for the collection at home, yes, it is also possible. The market is divided into several areas, depending on the product category. They have it structured in aisles with vegetables, fish, meat and cheese, all scents here trigger the senses. The sellers are shouting their offers in addition to the fishing spots, while they sprinkle water on the vegetables, so they look even more fresh. In the meat and poultry department you can attend to the slaughter of alive animals and then see for example, the chickens hang in bunches with everything intact except life and feathers. In the fish department you can slide over the floor with the mixture of fish blood and water. So take caution when you move in your bare feet sandals! Follow the signs to the center to the famous cathedral, and please ask for directions to Piazza Stesicoro . The market is located behind the piazza (square).


In Italy you find markets for any taste, both food markets and markets for hardware, clothing, shoes and various leather goods. One of the more famous is Porta Portese, selling anything but food. It is not an experience we can recommend, unless you want to spend a lot of time on transport and end out in a bleak neighborhood where pocket thieves are extremely active. Moreover, most Chinese goods produced are more junk than quality. You better spend your time on the small but incredibly charming market, Campo de 'Fiori, in the heart of downtown on the beautiful square of the same name.

Campo de 'Fiori
Every morning (except Sunday) Piazza Campo de 'Fiori is converted to a picturesque marketplace. Here you can find fresh vegetables, fruit, flowers and herbs in all colors and shapes, nuts, meat, poultry, fish, bread and all sorts of cheese. Moreover, it is possible to buy kitchen utensils, often by daily demonstrations. These 'performances' are pure runners, where the audience, especially tourists, are queuing up to buy such a contraption, apparently never seen before in their homeland.
What you also like to buy of cours is, Parmigiano Reggiano (the real parmesan) or other Italian specialties to take home, yes, it is somewhat cheaper here than in the surrounding stores.
If you need a break and a little to eat, there are plenty of cozy cafes and restaurants to choose from.
The name of the place actually means 'flower field', and since there once was a meadow, it would be reasonable to believe that the name derives from here. It is not the case, as it comes from Campus Florae, meaning 'Floras Space'. And Flora was the mistress of the famous triumvir Pompey Magnus in the middle of the last century BCE. The statue in the middle of the square depicts the philosopher Giordano Bruno, who in 1600 was burned at the stake for heresy here on Piazza Campo de 'Fiori. It was built by the Italian government in 1887-1889 as an affront to the church. Therefore it is was probably no coincidence that the philosopher Skuler accusatory made accusations toward the Vatican! There have been a market here for many centuries, including horse markets. The history of the square also contains several executions of opponents against the Reformation. Quite hard to imagine when you move around the picturesque market that buzzes with happy stall holders and expectant customers every day from pm. 7:00 to 13:30 (except Sundays).


Here we are in leather goods paradise, should you need a new leather jacket, you've come to the right city! The Committee is huge, and Florence is known for leather goods of really high quality that also creates something cheaper than what we are used to in the Nordic region. However, you should not believe that a "special price for you" means a pure giveaway. The city is also known for having a lot of tourists. And where there are tourists, there is usually also a vendor or two that have figured out, to put a little extra margin on 'turist' prices! Times are still to bargain a trade down in price, as the competition here is tough. Then you'll might find a leather bag that you simply MUST have some knowledge of Italian words as; "Quanto costa?" ( "What does it cost?") And "no, è troppo caro" ( "no, it's too expensive"). Several of the Florentine markets teeming with Italian produced quality products, both leather goods and food. It is not necessarily cheaper than in regular stores, but it is a very special experience to be part of the vibrant life that takes place here. The range of markets is huge, but we can particularly recommend San Lorenzo, Mercato Centrale and Sant'Ambrogio.

San Lorenzo
The huge outdoor market, in fact, the city's largest, is in central Florence in the streets around the church of San Lorenzo, and is open from Tuesday to Saturday (both days incl.) Yet. 10:00 to 19:30. They sell everything you can think about buying, souvenirs, sunglasses, clothing, shoes and more, but the market's biggest strength is all kinds of leather goods in good quality Italian. The sellers of leather jackets, also have their 'real' shops behind the stalls, where there is more to explore. Before you make your buy, you must realise that there are plenty of shops with leather goods around the city, where you can also get really good quality at very reasonable prices. Often the staff here is less aggressive compared to what you can experience it in the markets. If you decide anyway to invest in a leather jacket or bag at San Lorenzo, remember the Italian phrase: "no, è troppo caro", which may trigger an expensive purchase?

Mercato Centrale di San Lorenzo
In the central San Lorenzo is also the city's largest indoor food market, namely the Mercato Centrale, which is open from Monday to Saturday (both days incl.) Between the hours. 7:00 and 14:00. The building is made of iron and glass in the period from 1870 to 1874, and they had to tear a whole neighborhood down to make space for this fantastic work. The architect Giuseppe Mengoni, who, incidentally, is the same that is behind the famous Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele II in Milan, has achieved the large glass surfaces as a sense of being outdoors when visiting the market. On the ground floor you will find fish, meat, cheese, charcuterie, pasta and bread as well as bars, while fruit, vegetables and nuts are located on the first floor. It's a feast for the eye to enjoy the always appetizing and decorative presentation. It's hard not to be tempted by all the fresh and colorful delights offered. Are you hungry, you can still get you a meal at the cafeteria Nesbone. It is one of Florence's cheapest places to eat, and you should try their spelled soup (zuppa di ferro) or a sandwich with cooked meat (panino al lesso) and do not forget the house wine, which is available in both glass and decanter! When the weather permits, it is particularly nice to buy food in the many appetizing stalls and then take your picnic at one of Florence's many beautiful squares. And have you thought of bringing a good knife and maybe a blanket to finish your picnic.

Sant 'Ambrogio
Want to experience a market that is not crowded with (other) tourists, visit Sant 'Ambrogio, situated in the Santa Croce Piazza Ciompi. Here you will meet the local residents as well as local vendors with a loud voice, distinctly Tuscan dialect, offering all kinds of food. Yes, actually it is like entering a mini-version of Mercato Centrale just more evocative, perhaps because it is smaller? You can buy everything from charcuterie to local harvested fruit and vegetables but also clothing, antiques and other more or less useful matters. Here is a selection of restaurants, which, among other nice products, you can try the Italian specialty, trippa (tripe !!). The market is open from Tuesday to Saturday (both days incl.) Yet. about 7:00 to 13:00.


When staying in this wealthy Tuscan gem, you feel really rich. Lucca oozes charm and history with its intact defensive walls, beautiful squares, well-maintained old buildings and cozy cafes. If you are even lucky enough to be here when the city will hold it's monthly antiques market, the feeling of nostalgia reaches its peak.

Mercato Antiquario
The third weekend of every month, or "the third Sunday of each month and the previous Saturday," there is an antiques market in Lucca. The style is that many will recognize from France, a judicious mix of actual (expensive) antiques and cheap second-hand goods from many different eras, in all sizes from huge cabinets, earrings and stuffed animals, and then there's all that stuff that in no way can be called antique, nor even old, like a "mini-outlet" for hats.
Even if you do not have the desire to spend money or to buy something to take home, the market with the approximately 230 exhibitors is worth a detour. It is both picturesque and entertaining, and with churches from the twelve century, mansions from the seventeen century the scenery here is quite a free and memorable performance that you will remember for long. The market is held on Saturday 7:00 to 19:00 (but you should not expect that many stalls are prepared before 9:00) and Sunday 9:00 to 19:00 in the area between the majestic (or should we say "imperial"?) Piazza Napoleone and the Cathedral, that is Piazza Antelminelli, Piazza San Giusto, Piazza San Giovanni, Piazza Bernardini, Piazza San Martino and the many small streets that connect them.


Are you planning a vacation in the eastern part of Liguria, and without too many (other) tourists, you should consider visiting the small but very charming coastal town, Chiavari. One may wonder that so few are on vacation here, the city has pretty much everything you need for a perfect holiday. In addition to the historic center with beautiful medieval churches and ancient monuments there is also a beach, promenade and marina, a botanical garden and plenty of restaurants and shops. Moreover, you can experience more vibrant markets in the city. Visit for example the antique market Mercatino dell'Antiquariato taking place in the pedestrian second weekend of each month. Are you more interested in food, you should visit the culinary market, Mercato dei Sapori, which takes place on the fourth weekend of every month. If your holiday is outside these weekends, every Friday you can experience the recurrent and classic market on the central square, where you can buy both food, hardware, shoes, bags and clothes. This market 'travels' around from town to town, on different weekdays, and you therefore you have the opportunity to experience it anywhere else than in Chiavari. And since there are even train station in the middle of town, you are connected to the well-known cities. In particular Pisa, Genoa, Sestri Levante and Levanto.

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