Markets in Florence:
From food and drinks to clothes and jewelry, the markets in Florence are a unique characteristic of the city that gives life to both locals and tourists alike. Navigating these markets gives tourists a real taste of the culture in the most authentic way. Markets in Florence are the center of life for locals who shop there every day. In each of the markets throughout the city, there are hundreds of vendors who take great pride and joy in the products they are selling and the interactions they encounter on a daily basis with their customers. These markets are certainly plentiful throughout Florence and are definitely a “must do” activity if you’re looking to experience a real taste of Italy during your stay.
Breakdown of the various markets to visit in Florence:
Mercato di San Lorenzo:
Just a short walk from the Duomo, the San Lorenzo market one of Florence’s most famed markets. Rather than food, these street vendors sell all the souvenirs a tourist can imagine. Everything from leather goods to watches, scarves, shoes, paintings, and Italian futon gear, San Lorenzo has it all and is willing bargain with you to sell it.
from 9:00am to 7:00pm Tuesday through Sunday, this cheerful and lively market is without a doubt just as important to experience as the museums are.
Just adjacent to the souvenir shops is the food and home goods part of San Lorenzo, better known as Mercato Centrale. Here you will find decadent pickled olives, the freshest fruits and veggies around, and an enormous assortment of cheeses and breads, olive oils, vinegar, wines, meats, and everything else in between. Watch as the vendors look over their stands with joyous smiles as they offer samples to those looking to buy. Then, blend in with the crowd and attempt to purchase some of your own goods and experience all the sensory feelings you get as you explore the winding halls of Centrale. Of course, you can also take a break from the walking and shopping at one of the cafés or restaurants inside where you will find the freshest possible ingredients for local Italian cuisine.
Smaller than Mercato Centrale and located in a less densely tourist area, Sant’Ambrogio is where you will find the locals and experience the real Florentine culture. Vendors are located both indoors and outdoors selling produce as well as jewelry and home goods. This is the place locals come to do their shopping. The vendors and their customers have formed a strong relationship here to not only buy food, but discuss food politics and share household gossip. You cannot visit Sant’Ambrogio though without going to their small eatery inside. It has been running since 1987 by a man named Rocco Mangino who becomes your new best friend the minute you sit down. My first experience with him is one that left me laughing and smiling the rest of the day.
Very near to Sant’Ambrogio is another smaller flea market. Open Monday to Saturday from 9:00am to 7:00pm, this quiet flea market is one for the trinket and antique lover. Every last Sunday of the month the market expands filling the entire piazza with unique, bargain-‐worthy souvenirs. You will find great vintage or collectable items as well as hats, books, bags clothes and even furniture.
Mercato delle Cascine:
Last on our list is a very special market. Mercato della Cascine is Florence’s largest market, however, it is only open on Tuesdays from 8am to 2pm. Despite the restricted hours, if you can make it on a Tuesday morning, go. This place sells everything you see in your typical daily markets, but up a few notches on the scale. What makes it so special though is not the fine wines, cheeses, and fresh produce, but it’s the clothing and shoes. Ladies, and gentlemen looking for a new suave Italian wardrobe, save your souvenir money for the stalls selling discountedgood from Pierre Cerdin, Armani, Gucci, and all other famous Italian designers with factories nearby Florence.