The city of Florence, located in the region of Tuscany in Italy is a charming, energetic city full of exciting things to see and do, it is a very popular place with western tourists, but it’s not just the renaissance architecture, marble statues and detailed frescoes that are worth seeing while you are here.
Located centrally in the historic old town is a fantastic market which I consider a must-see for its authentic vibrant and busy atmosphere.
Mercato Centrale was completed in 1874 during the time when Florence was the capital city.
It is the oldest and biggest market in Florence, and not to mention the greatest when it comes to choice and quality. It is open 7 days a week from 8 until midday but make sure you get here early for the best choice and to beat some of the crowd. The market is located just 5 minutes’ walk from the station and you really can’t miss it.
Now the market is actually made up of 3 sections:
Downstairs is the main floor for buying fresh produce from the market vendors. Here you can choose from some of the highest quality fresh fruit, a large selection of vegetables from many vendors, fresh and dried artisan pasta, including some in rude shapes, a wide variety of fresh meats, including Florence’s famous cuts of steak, sausages, poultry, and offal.
Coming fresh from the sea is a myriad of fresh, quality seafood with everything from Mantis shrimps to the whole tuna.
There is also an extensive selection of local rice here, with local pulses, biscuits such as my personal favorite cantucci, wine from the neighboring Chianti region, elegant spices, fresh herbs and even candies for those of you with a sweet tooth. Selection is vast here and prices are very fair, many of the vendors speak some English and are very helpful in finding you what you need.
I suggest it is worth taking a good look at everything that is on offer before deciding who to buy your goods from.
On the same floor, you can also take a break from the frantic market atmosphere and have a coffee, or if you are feeling peckish you can sample some of the great-looking food being cooked and served by local chefs – you know it’s good when the locals are all flocking to eat some. Many dishes here are available such as lasagne, Taglieri, lampredotto, cannelloni and more with several small seating areas that at times can become very busy.
If there is no space there, or you prefer a calmer environment while you take a break, upstairs the focus is centered more around eating and drinking with an interesting range of hot food available as well as sushi, fresh juices, cakes, and pastries. There are some additional meat and fishmonger vendors up here also. In the late afternoon when I was here, there was a small live music performance that really complemented the happy, mellow vibes. This beautiful dining area is open until midnight, with food being served from 8 am.
Lastly, if you are shopping for some Italian leather goods, outside the market there is are several aisles of leather and clothing stalls that run along the flanks of the market building.
Mercato Centrale really is a fantastic place to soak up some Italian market culture and discover so many mouth-watering treats under one roof. Without a shadow of a doubt, I definitely recommend a visit for the experience in itself and to grab some fresh ingredients to cook up your own treats!
See more information on their official website.
Watch our guide to Mercato Centrale.
It is the oldest and biggest food market in Florence, and not to mention the greatest when it comes to choice and quality. You can find artisan-made food, fresh meat and seafood, and great quality wine.
Mercato Centrale in Florence is open from Monday to Saturday from 8 am till 2 pm (downstairs, grocery market) and every day from 8 am till midnight (food hall). Some grocery stalls are also open on Saturday afternoon.
Usually you can expect supermarkets to close around 10 pm on the weekdays and later on the weekend (not including Sunday). Google Maps App is great accurate resource for opening hours.