Thursday, May 3, 2007

Markets in Florence

Scarves in San Lorenzo Handbags in San Lorenzo
San Lorenzo and the Medici Chapel
"Slow Food" market in Santa Croce
Nuovo Mercato
Paper goods in San Lorenzo

There are some terrific markets in Florence. In the middle of town, between Piazza della Signoria and Piazza della Republica, there is Nuovo Market, where the Porcellina Fountain is. (See Fountains in Florence). This market has stalls on a beautiful arched platform during the day which are closed and carted away in the evening like a train. It is a real event to see the vendors with their carts all in a row traveling back to "garage" them until the next day. These stalls have all types of goods, from leather bags, leather jackets, handmade paper goods, scarves and jewelry.

Recently, in Piazza Santa Croce, they had a "Slow Food" festival. There were booths with food vendors selling spices, Tuscan food specialties, cheeses, meats, sauces, wine, beer, and bread.
Everyday, the largest leather market in Florence takes place in San Lorenzo. This market has been in existence since the 1500's and is the place to go for, bags, luggage, jackets. There are also scarves, Tuscan pottery, jewelry, clothing, and really just about anything you can think of.

In the middle of San Lorenzo is the church of San Lorenzo, which was the parish church of the Medicos Family. There is a staircase designed by Michelangelo in the Biblioteca, and the funerary figures symbolizing Night, Day, Dawn and Dusk are some of Michelangelos greatest works and are in the Medicos Chapel. One of my favorite things about San Lorenzo market is the view of the Chapel dome, the campinile and the rooftop of San Lorenzo which is shown in the photo. I plan to do a painting of it before I leave here!

The San Lorenzo market caters mostly to tourist, but in the center of San Lorenzo is the 2 story Mercato Centrale which houses a huge food market. The bottom floor has butcher shops, fish shops, cheese shops, wine shops, sandwich shops, spices and delis. The top floor is all fresh produce. This market is of course frequented by the residence of Florence who come to shop for their food supplies.

When you come to Florence, be sure to go into the Mercato Centrale. It is really something to eat. Many of the butcher shops have animals which you might not recognize, and parts of animals which I am sure you won’t. Tripe, is a Tuscan delicacy and is the stomach of a cow. They also consume the tongue, feet, brain, intestines, of cows and pigs, and eat other animals like hare, turkey’s, ducks and the occasional chicken. There are booths with cured meats which are famous in Italy like bologna, mortadella, speck, salami, prosciutto, etc. etc.

Walking through the markets is definitely a must. Never pay what the vendor tells you the item costs. Bargaining is expected, and even though they will act highly offended when you offer them a lower price, chances are you won’t leave there without the item!

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