Mercato Centrale in Florence

I left Verona early in the morning and arrived to Florence around 9:00 am, too early for check-in. The hotel I booked is very near to the railway station, but I stupidly followed my google map, I made a big round in the old quarter before reaching my hotel. Later standing at the hotel entrance – the rail station is just across the street!

The lady at the reception was so nice, my room was not ready yet, she nicely offered me a breakfast, or even a shower if I want to refresh. I had a good breakfast in Verona so I took only a cup of coffee with a slice of pound cake. Left my luggages at the reception, I decided to go out. Walking along the street, almost no sidewalk or super narrow, I was heading to the old quarter and surprisingly found the market by chance in front of me – Mercato Centrale!

e38ab-marketinferenze_15It seems all specialities of Tuscany can be found in this Central Market…

I love the traditional market, wherever I go, I tried to visit them – in Bangkok, Bali, Hongkong, Seoul, Tokyo…and up to Europe, in Paris, Amsterdam, Helsinki, Munich…Only there I feel the routine life, the tradition, the local cuisine, the lifestyle. Mercato Centrale, located right in the old quarter, in nicely-designed two-storey building. I spent the whole morning in this market, just to see, to smell and to fall in love with this flavorful, very colorful market.

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The decoration looks nice from far, but approaching – all flowers are just plastic ones! 

Built in 1870s, but it obviously has been renovated so the market is a perfect combination of the pass and the presence in many details. Located in a big new-old towering cast-iron building, the sun light stream in through many high windows on the top, to give an impression of the open-air market – one of the fascinating places to visit in Florence, especially for foodies!      

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 I got some fruits from this stall…

Mercato Centrale opens everyday, except Sunday, from 7:00 am to 2:00 pm. When I was there it was not very crowded. The space is huge, clean, full of different smells so walking, taking photo was such a pleasure, especially some stalls are well-decorated with flowers (paper or plastic ones!) or with old traditional kitchen tools. Quite eye-catching!

The only thing I regretted was not able to try the popular sandwich with meat at “Da Nerbone” which considered one of the best street foods in Florence!

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Collection of old casseroles, openers has been display as for decoration of this stall.   

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The colours, the sounds, the smells revive your senses…

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Mercato Centrale offers big varieties of typical Tuscany ingredients, spices, fresh or dried fruits, uncured or traditionally preserved  butchers meat, all kinds of pasta or oils, grocery items, bakery, seafood…to the good hot meal, especially on the second floor – like the food court, even with a classy, good-looking cooking class. Imagine the cooking class right in the market! An excellent idea!

15c00-marketinferenze_16Salumi – preserved meat by salting, drying or smoking – big speciality from Florence. 

39a6f-marketinferenze_23One of many salumeria (salumi stall) in Central market 

Salumi is just a collective name given to anything preserved or cured in salt, especially the pork meat. This speciality is important in everyday Tuscany cuisine – from the sandwich, pizza, lunch to the Tuscany appetisers for dinner, named Antipasto Tuscano that can be found on almost every dinner menu in Florence.

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Salami made with spiced, salted pork and cubes of pork fat, forced into a large casing and aged for several months, Salami is drier and darker than Finocchiona – another kind of salami. Salami will be named Salamino due to smaller diameter or Soppressata with cooked pork, or Bresaola – with cured beef fillet. And my all time favorite – pepper salami!

1a123-marketinferenze_7Dried fruits, colourful ingredients, spices from Tuscany cuisine. 

6293a-marketinferenze_8Uncured meat, salami, salamino, finocchiona, poultry stall

d2018-marketinferenze_4Seafood stall – restaurant on the upper floor of the market.  

95b0d-marketinferenze_13Bread stall with different kinds of delicatessen of Tuscany bakery.  

7e09e-marketinferenze_19Decoration like this gives me a cozy feeling, prosperity…

18b31-marketinferenze_21Cheese, cheese and cheese…

0e266-marketinferenze_24Dried fruits, nuts, spices, oils…big selection! 

Central market still offers a good selection of hot meal, on the upper floor – don’t miss it! But before heading upstairs, you should at least try – Nerbone! A local favourite place, located in the southern corner, on the ground floor, of the market. Founded in 1872, it’s like a walk-up eatery with a bank of tables that is surely swamped by the lunchtime.

Nerbone offers a variety of dishes but most famous, probably, lampredotto (or bollito sandwich) – a boiled beef sandwich where the bread is slightly dipped in the cooking broth and topped with the green parsley sauce and spicy sauce. Unfortunately, I didn’t try this bollito sandwich, it was a long queue and I was still very full from the big breakfast in Verona. I will come back for this sandwich one day!

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Nerbone – founded almost in the same time with the market – local favourite eatery. 

d2766-marketinferenze_2The food court on the upper floor  

67bca-marketinferenze_5Weekdays? Not very crowded even at the lunch time  

d671e-marketinferenze_26Shining cooking class on upper floor reminds me of the old kitchen at LCB in the old times. 

The entrances to Central market are often obscured by many stalls of another market San Lorenzo that line the streets outside, you may notice the Central Market when you are not surrounded by those stalls selling handicrafts, clothing, shoes, leather or souvenirs. Try to find the entrance and get inside the market building!

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San Lorenzo market – surrounding Central market from the outside.  

4a24a-marketinferenze_22If you have time to walk around, you may find something interesting…

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Like these colourful ceramics for your dining table or kitchen. 

Back home, writing this review, I really can’t remember the Central market was in my initial travel plan or not, or I just discovered it by chance while walking from the hotel to the old quarter.

The Central Market is not very visible from the outside, it was good for me to find it and to witness the daily life in Florence, it was a bit in hurry! I also missed my bollito sandwich at Nerbone, now I can enjoy only by watching this video!

 

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