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The new Mercato centrale: Eat your heart out Florence



If you have visited Florence, likely you have stopped in the mercato centrale, or central market where fresh produce, meats, fish & cheese are in abundance and you can pick up all sorts of seasonal delights you can use to create delicious Italian meals. From farm to kitchen for your pleasure at a place I love to waste time just browsing, this is the kind of Italy that everyone wants to be a part of.


Photo by

Photo by

This year’s hot news was the planned inauguration of the first floor above the food market: imagine a fancy food court, combining tasting stands, shops and a cooking school. 3000 square meters with 500 seats (including a bank & fiorentina shop) and 12 different food stands open seven days a week for a hungry public {me included :)}.

I was able to join other journalists & bloggers, and boy were a lot of people there, all jostling for a sneak peek {and taste} to see what the public was in for. Before this structure was renovated, this area was in a sad state of neglect, now receiving a ‘fresh face’ by entrepreneur Umberto Montano. And fresh it is. 


photo by

photo by


Just walking into this open, modern space you can’t help but he impressed, at least I was. Everything was shiny, bright and new with all sorts of stands featuring Italy’s favorites: mozzarella di bufala, pizza from the south, a Chianti wine tasting corner, gelato & chocolate stand, veggie stand where you can get freshly squeezed juice and veggie soup puree, fresh seafood, fresh pasta, bread and my-oh-my so much more. Did I mention the beer stand? Or let’s talk street food — or what about the library?

The list goes on, I am pretty sure I spotted a hat stand hanging around somewhere in the complex.


This is awesome

There are a number of reasons that I can appreciate this initiative. One being that they are finally revamping this area of town {near San Lorenzo} to make it an even more attractive area for tourists and locals alike. It definitely had a bit of an abandoned feel in the past and I feel like 2014 time for San Lorenzo to shine. Also the attractive location makes for it to be close enough for those coming to Florence on a day trip to stop by and browse the market, shop, and perhaps get a slice of freshly made pizza before heading home. Surely they are giving the recently opened Eataly a run for their money.

The question now that many people might have is regarding the quality of the products. We were able to sample many of the dishes and I have to say, it was all pretty superb, a heck of a lot better than anything you can get in piazza del duomo (stay away from self-service). The pizza was perfectly crispy. asparagus risotto bursting with flavor and the coccoli (fried bread) perfectly crispy and steaming. You can spy on the chefs in action and ask for advice and tips, this being the whole point of making the wonder of the world that is Italian cuisine more accessible to the wider public.

centralmarketThe Changing face of San Lorenzo

The San Lorenzo part of town has always been pretty controversial. Recently they have gotten rid much of the outdoor open market (read more here). This is a hard one for me, because I can naughtily appreciate the 5 euro scarves and easy access to cheap shopping — at the same time I do acknowledge the lack of true ‘made in Italy’ and chaos this area was in. Furthermore as a single female, walking in that market alone was a little intimidating from time to time

Living here for eight years, I can see the positives and negatives of closing the market down. I applaud any effort at updating Florence {especially when it comes to cool initiatives like this} yet we all know how change usually works in this city {just look up the tramvia proposals if you don’t believe me}. It’s a delicate ground to walk on, preserving the integrity & traditions with the very noble need of modernizing and updating the city of Firenze. Someone is always going to have an opinion and opinions they are.

When can you visit the new first floor of Florence’s central market? 

The ‘primo piano’ will open to the public in April 23rd at 6pm (inauguration ceremony). 140 years after the architect built the original glass and steel structure. Once open – you will be able to go all-year-long, every day from 10am to midnight. website, facebook. Piazza del mercato centrale, Florence, Italy.

Eat your heart out Florence

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28 Comment

  1. timelessitaly
    18.04.2014 at 13:53

    I love the Mercato centrale! What an amazing indoor market. I remember buying the hugest roast port sandwich imaginable. Delicious!

    1. GirlinFlorence
      18.04.2014 at 17:20

      It is pretty special isn’t it? Like you, I’ve rarely met a porchetta panino I didn’t like 😉

      1. timelessitaly
        18.04.2014 at 17:50

        Do most of the locals shop there? Or does it attract more of the tourists? Are prices soft?

        1. GirlinFlorence
          18.04.2014 at 19:30

          I would say it happens to be popular with both locals and tourists (the quality really is top) though many head to the market at Sant.Ambrogio because its cheaper.

  2. bobblesse
    18.04.2014 at 17:02

    Thanks, Georgette! This is a very positive step for Florence, a retrofit that will benefit locals and tourists alike. Can’t go wrong with food-related progress like this. We look forward to visiting the “new” primo piano at Mercato centro when we move to Florence permanently in early September.

    1. GirlinFlorence
      18.04.2014 at 17:16

      Thanks Bob for reading :-). I also think it’s a step in the right direction. This area was pretty much abandoned before. This creates jobs and provides a chance for tourists and locals alike to try different italian regional dishes in one place

  3. Giovanna
    18.04.2014 at 17:13

    Thanks ! Can’t wait to check it out when I am back in Florence in June…counting the days!

    1. GirlinFlorence
      18.04.2014 at 17:14

      You should and don’t forget to let me know what you think :-). The pizza is delish!

  4. bakeritalia
    18.04.2014 at 19:58

    OMG!! I am so going to be there, thanks for the heads up, it looks fantastic, lucky you!

    1. GirlinFlorence
      18.04.2014 at 20:00

      No problemo! Planning on heading back on opening day (that Pizza is burned in my memory…)

  5. Mani (A New Life Wandering)
    18.04.2014 at 23:35

    Sounds like heaven! And what is that in the first photo? It looks delicious!

    1. GirlinFlorence
      19.04.2014 at 1:16

      it’s a beet and radish soup sprinkled with rose petals, it was so good that I came home and made the same thing for dinner (plus toasted some fresh bread with goat cheese). 😀

      1. Mani (A New Life Wandering)
        19.04.2014 at 1:21

        Ugh, mouthwatering.

  6. mfryan
    20.04.2014 at 16:26

    So cool! I had no idea! Can’t wait to go, thanks! 🙂

  7. annalemmon
    21.04.2014 at 23:07

    Wow this IS awesome! I love the pictures you posted, since I am back home in America and will not get the opportunity to see it for myself (at least not in the near future). The changes look amazing, and it is great to see some modernization without destroying the history. It is a little sad to hear that the San Lorenzo market was closed down, because I also liked to browse through the cheap items, but you are right that it wasn’t always the best place to be. I wish this would’ve happened sooner because wine, beer, and food tasting is right up my alley! I love your “beware self service” warning – the places in piazza del duomo that had food sitting out buffet-style just screamed “don’t eat me!” Thanks for the great post, I love reading your blog and seeing what is new around the city and everything else. It makes me even more nostalgic, but I know I will be back someday, and I will even be up-to-date!

    1. GirlinFlorence
      22.04.2014 at 14:36

      Thank you for your awesome comment. I agree that they managed to modernize the place without taking away from the original theme {winning!}.

  8. The Travel Cocktail
    26.04.2014 at 17:41

    Looks amazing! Will definitely have to check it out!

    1. GirlinFlorence
      27.04.2014 at 22:12

      you absolutely should, and then let me know what you think!

  9. […] I feel like I have hit the pizza lottery lately with Obika and also the new primo piano at the Mercato Centrale in the zone of san lorenzo. FYI: The pizzas are made with stoneground flour and cooked in a fire […]

    23.06.2014 at 18:16

    Hi, will be visiting this place when i reach florence on july. May i know what is the operating hours for weekdays and weekends?

    1. GirlinFlorence
      23.06.2014 at 19:18

      it’s open every day from 10am to Midnight 🙂

  11. Jin
    24.06.2014 at 16:55

    That’s cool, will definitely go to this place.
    Any other places in Florene you would recommend to go ? i be there for 3 days before i head down to Rome.

    1. GirlinFlorence
      24.06.2014 at 18:35

      Absolutely, Enoteca la Barrique for dinner, Buongustai for lunch 🙂

  12. Astrid
    04.08.2014 at 20:38

    Does anyone have contact details for the cooking classes or an agency organizing culinary events at this lovely market?

    Thanks from Germany.

    1. mm
      04.08.2014 at 23:05

      Sure do Astrid, just check out the site here,

  13. Michael
    16.08.2014 at 22:46

    We’re wondering if the market is open in August like normal, or are a lot of the merchants gone on vacation?


    1. mm
      17.08.2014 at 17:36

      It should be open for business, I think they got the hint!

  14. […] Central Market food court: The cheese place at the end on the left has amazing fresh ricotta, which I paired with a small roll from the bakery a few stands down. The other cheese place has a wider selection, and I took home a piece of smelly but delicious raw cow milk cheese. The fruit stall has good fruit except for the squishy plum I received, and the yogurt was tasty. I took home supplies for several days because breakfast is not a big thing in Italy. Most people just have a pastry with coffee. I need a bit more substantial food. […]

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