il Mercato Centrale Florence
We walked past il Mercato several times our first trip to Florence and never did find it! Even though the building is huge – perhaps a football field in length, it is hidden by the street vendors of San Lorenzo. We also didn’t realize it is a fantastic and unique dining experience!
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il Mercato Centrale is located in the San Lorenzo neighborhood in Florence, Italy. The market was the project of Umberto Montano, who had this iron and glass building built-in 1874.
Here’s a map for when you go to visit so you don’t miss it either! Mercato
The Street Vendors
Many of these vendors have a warehouse located close by. If you don’t spot something in the exact color you are looking for, ask them as they might have the color back in the warehouse. They might even take you to the warehouse for you to see the complete selection available.
Feel free to bargain here. Prices are indicated but they want to move product so a deal can be had. Hold firm to what you want to pay and negotiate!
When the Mercato Centrale was built, it revived a part of Florence that had been left deserted for many years.
It is filled with activity for the entire family. If you are looking for local ingredients, a Tuscan meal, or souvenirs to bring home – this is a must stop when visiting Florence!
A sample of items you can find in the market is bread, confectionery desserts, fresh fish, fried food, fruit and vegetables, meats and salami, buffalo mozzarella, cheeses, chocolate, fresh and dry pasta, wines and liquors. I’ve never seen such colorful pasta before. I keep meaning to purchase a package, I’m sure it doesn’t change the taste but would make a pretty dish, that’s for sure! I would imagine a pasta salad would be ideal for this colorful pasta.
Mercato Centrale Firenze gives back to the city an ideal marketplace of taste, redeveloping a vital venue in central Florence. It’s a rebirth that returns artisans and their produce to the heart of the food scene.
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Until 1979 the fruit and vegetable market was held outdoors in the square in front of the triangular area, called the Market Square. That same year, work was completed on the first floor equipping it with specially designed benches and cold rooms allowing the fruit and vegetable stands to move indoors.
In addition to your shopping, you can also find about 500 places to sit and enjoy lunch. All dishes prepared inside the Mercato are made using only the raw materials on sale inside the Mercato itself. Upstairs is where you can find most of the restaurants – it’s like a gourmet food court and unique dining! We enjoy a great meal every time we visit.
Located upstairs in the corner is The Lorenzo de’ Medici cooking school. It regularly organizes cooking classes in both Italian and English. We have yet to try the school but hope to one of these visits.
Don’t miss visiting il Mercato and enjoy a truly unique dining experience!
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in March 2017 and was updated in July 2020 for accuracy and additional information.