Florence is famous for being the home of the Renaissance, its incredible artistic heritage and the plethora of UNESCO World Heritage sites which is why it’s sometimes easy to overlook some of the simpler pleasures that the city has to offer!
Florence has a wide range of lovely local markets that sell everything from freshly sourced food and ingredients, clothes and leatherware as well as souvenirs and antique collectables. It’s great fun to explore the markets of Florence and it will give you a wonderful insight into the authentic life of the city.
So whether you’re a tourist in Florence or an Expat, no stay in the city would be complete without experiencing the bustling markets that are bursting with color, life and surprises around every corner. Not only are these markets a street photographer’s dream come true but you can also find some amazing bargains amongst the stalls, particularly if you’re willing to haggle a bit!
The Best Daily Markets Of Florence.
The following are the key daily markets of Florence.
Mercato Porcellino, Piazza del Mercato Nuovo.
Best known for its leather goods, scarves, clothing and souvenirs, the Mercato Porcellino has been popular among Florentines for centuries. This central commercial hotspot is situated beneath spectacular pillars and is widely associated with a statue of a wild boar that is said to bring people who rub its snout good luck.
The market was actually named after the famous statue of the ‘Porcellino’, a child’s affectionate word for ‘pig’ in Italian, that has been a central feature of the market since the 17th Century. If you want to make a wish you can also put a coin into the boar’s mouth and if, the legend goes, it falls through the gates into the drain your wish will be granted!
So if you’re looking for a fascinating afternoon exploring a traditional Florentine market then the Mercato Porcellino is great fun and is surrounded by small restaurants where you grab some lunch; and if you’re lucky you might even have your wish granted by the lucky wild boar!
Mercato Centrale, Via dell’Ariento.
Situated in San Lorenzo, this indoor market was founded in the 1800s and sells fresh food and local Florentine ingredients. Packed with locals and tourists in the know, the Mercato Centrale is the perfect place to buy your fresh ingredients for home cooking or to stop by for lunch in one of the many nearby restaurants and cafes.
Ingredients from the market are bought by customers as well as the nearby restaurants which gives the scene a buzzing atmosphere that is delightful for anyone who appreciates authentic Italian cuisine.
On the second floor of the market a newly renovated food hall allows you to taste some of Tuscany’s finest cuisine, fresh ingredients and wine. Within moments of arriving at the market you’ll quickly realize that you’ve just stepped into a foodie heaven on earth so it’s not worth missing out on this slice of paradise!
San Lorenzo Outdoor Market, San Lorenzo.
This sprawling outdoor market stretches through the streets of San Lorenzo and has stalls outside of the main Mercato Centrale as well as in the surrounding piazzas. It’s easy to get lost in the maze of stalls that specialize in leather products including jackets, accessories, belts and shoes.
You can find some amazing bargains in the outdoor market although you need to have your wits about you because not all the items are high quality and there’s plenty of fake leather on sale! However, if you’re ready to haggle with stall owners then you can really get the prices down and walk away with some unbelievable bargains.
The San Lorenzo Outdoor Market is a hotspot for tourists and is often patrolled by pickpockets so it’s worth being a little bit careful, especially if you visit during the summer high season.
Mercato Sant’Ambrogio, Piazza Lorenzo Ghiberti.
This charming market has an indoor area and a covered outdoor section that has been open since 1873. With a massive range of fresh ingredients on sale in the various stalls as well as onsite eateries with tables and chairs for an inexpensive lunch you can spend an enjoyable afternoon at the Mercato Sant’Ambrogio.
The Mercato Sant’Ambrogio is considered to be Florence’s second main market, behind the Mercato Centrale, and is hugely popular with the locals. Since the market caters more for locals than tourists you can find household items such as light bulbs, cleaning supplies and homeware, as well as fresh food, vintage clothes and costume jewelry.
The Mercato Sant’Ambrogio is slightly off the beaten track for tourists so it’s not as busy as other markets and has a more authentic Italian feel than some of the other locations. Open from 7am until after lunch every day except Sunday, the market is busiest on Saturday mornings when locals are picking up ingredients for their family get-togethers over the weekend.
Florence Antique Market, Largo Pietro Annigoni.
This market has been temporarily relocated to the Largo Pietro Annigoni beside the Mercato Sant’Ambrogio and specializes in antiques and collectibles. So if you’re visiting the larger Mercato Sant’Ambrogio then why not drop by this fascinating market to browse some of the antiques on display?
Prices are not cheap for these precious antiques but if you want a truly unique souvenir of your time in Florence then this market will certainly have something that will catch your eye!
When you visit the market you should be prepared to dig through baskets and piles of items to find the very best treasures but it’s a fun way to spend an afternoon in Florence. Open from Monday through Saturday, from 9am until 7pm, the antique market is a real treat to visit.
The Best Weekly And Monthly Markets Of Florence.
The following are the best weekly and monthly markets of Florence.
Flower Market, Piazza Della Repubblica.
Each Thursday morning from September through until June the flower market sets up its stalls in the Piazza della Repubblica with exquisite displays of colorful fresh cut flowers and bouquets.
Even if you only visit the square to take some photos and appreciate the beauty of the scene you should definitely put it on your list of things to do in Florence. Of course, you can always buy some fresh flowers for your apartment or hotel room to brighten up your accommodation with locally grown flowers.
Fortezza Da Basso Antique Market, Piazza Vittorio Veneto.
Having recently moved into the Piazza Vittorio Veneto, the antique market sells everything from furniture and paintings to jewelry and small collectibles. This antique market attracts collectors from all over Florence who scour the stalls looking for priceless items; but even if you’re not an expert you can still find some lovely collectibles to decorate your home with or give as gifts to friends and family.
The market takes place on the 3rd Saturday and Sunday of each month and is an interesting collection of regional antiques as well as items from much further afield. If you want to get an item for a good price you will have to be prepared to do some serious haggling to get the prices down with the wily stall owners!
Fiesole Vintage Market, Piazza Mino Da Fiesole.
Located in Fiesole, just outside of Florence, this charming bi-monthly outdoor vintage market is a treasure trove that sets up its stands in the main square of the tiny hillside town.
The market takes place on the 1st and 3rd Sunday of every month in the stunning town of Fiesole and with views over the city of Florence it’s worth a day trip just to explore the market, have lunch in a local restaurant and meander through the charming town. If you want to make the most of the experience you can also climb up the steep central street to get a view across the entire valley of Florence and the surrounding Tuscan countryside!
Santo Spirito Flea Market, 5-6 Piazza Santo Spirito.
The Santo Spirito Flea Market is open on the 2nd Sunday of each month and sells everything you can imagine including vintage clothes, arts and crafts, household antiques as well as souvenirs and food.
Definitely a fun market to visit and browse just to see what you might find while appreciating the more Bohemian side of Florence. The market is open from the early morning until sunset so you’ll have plenty of time to explore the stalls as well as pop into a nearby restaurant for a leisurely lunch while people watching in the piazza.
Mercato Artigianale, Piazza Santo Spirito.
Open on the 2nd and 3rd Sunday of each month, the Mercato Artigianale is a popular artisan market where you can find a stunning selection of locally made artisan products. At the market you can buy organic honey, wine, bread as well as handmade olive wood kitchenware, beeswax candles and upcycled jewelry!
This is the perfect shopping spot for nature lovers who want to support organic and environmentally friendly artisan practitioners in and around Florence while picking up some tasty treats and even a few handmade gifts or souvenirs.
Visiting Florence’s Markets – Beware Of Pickpockets.
While you’re walking through the busy markets of Florence you should be aware, particularly in the more touristy spots, that pickpockets are often active in these locations. Pickpockets will tend to target tourists who are engrossed in the wonderful sights around them although anyone can fall prey to them!
Of course, if you keep your valuables close to your person and stay vigilant you should have no problems. If you’re visiting the less touristy markets you should have nothing to worry about but it’s worth being a bit more careful when you’re in a crowded touristy market on a busy summer’s day. Nonetheless, it’s something that you should be aware of when visiting the busier markets in Florence.
Take A Tour To Get Your Bearings In The Markets Of Florence.
If you’ve never really shopped for your groceries in a market it can be a bit daunting, especially in a new city. However, you can take a tour with a friendly local who will show you the ropes and even teach you a few authentic Italian cooking tricks once you have purchased your ingredients!
Florence Cooking Course and Market Visit: This half day tour begins with a walking exploration of San Lorenzo Market where you can choose the ingredients for your dishes. You then return to the tour organizer’s kitchen where you’ll learn how to cook an authentic 4 course Tuscan meal. Lastly, you get to eat your food with your group (maximum of 15) before leaving with two extra recipes to try at home later.
Shop Like A Local At The Markets In Florence.
Unlike in many other parts of the Western world, Florentines, and Italians more generally, buy a lot of their food and other household items from markets as opposed to major chain stores. This helps to keep the local economy and small businesses thriving but it also creates a friendly atmosphere where you can stop and chat with the vendor while doing your shopping.
As well as being a more enjoyable experience, shopping for fresh ingredients in the market means that you’ll get better quality items at lower prices. You can also find everything from furniture to paintings and leatherware to souvenirs. Therefore, if you want to shop like a local Florentine you should start to explore the markets of the city as soon as you can!