With the neighborhood food vendors having such spectacularly varied and fresh produce offerings, my expectations for the Mercato Centrale (Central Market) were growing by the minute. Located on the fringe of Florence (meaning a tad more than a 10 minute walk from the Ponte Vecchio), the main market of Florence did not disappoint at all. A two level market with meats, cheeses, florists, baked goods, cooked foods on the first floor and the produce, dried fruits, bottled items such as grappa and limoncello on the second floor, I was totally overwhelmed with the variety and quality of goods on offer. Though not as impressive or photogenic as La Boqueria in Barcelona, this was nonetheless spectacular. The soaring metal roof left a large airy space on the second floor and the spacious aisles and well-lit ground floor made for a very pleasant stroll within the market premises. Again, for this post, I will let the photos do most of the talkingâ€¦ Up top were dried porcini mushrooms, which were sold in â€œgradesâ€ that meant that the largest finest grade was roughly Euro 10 per 100 grams or Euro 100 per kilo. The finer or smaller mushrooms or broken bits went for as low as Euro 4 for 100 grams. I purchased some of the dried porcini and they vacuum packed the mushrooms so they would stay fresh and would be easy to pack! I was also thrilled to find the last of the blood oranges on offer. Delicious orange taste with an unusual blood red/orange colorâ€¦
I noticed that my photos seemed to have skipped most of the first floor of the marketâ€¦I must have had trouble regaining equilibrium after entering the placeâ€¦ but suffice it to say that there were meat vendors galore, salumerias up the wazoo, cheese places, prepared foods, etc. that would want to make you weep if they forcibly dragged you out of the market for some strange reason, like you werenâ€™t wearing the proper shade of orange that was the color of the seasonâ€¦ If I died and were reincarnated as a fly (assuming I was wicked in my present life), I would want to be a fly at the Mercato Centrale in Florence!
Just part of the stunning cheeses on offerâ€¦
They had stalls with just cookies, meringues and sweetsâ€¦ so popular was one stall they sold t-shirts with the name of the store on it!
The flower selection was not badâ€¦
â€¦fennel was spectacular and dirt cheapâ€¦
â€¦the melons some of the sweetest I have ever tasted and look at that colorâ€¦
â€¦eggplants so vividly purple no paint could approximate itâ€¦
â€¦garlic so fresh that the stems were still greenâ€¦
â€¦freshly dried oregano from sicilyâ€¦
â€¦and of course some limoncello to end any meal you prepared from the fantastic produce you could have purchased at the Mercato Centrale!