Girl in Florence

A Tuscan Texan immersed in Florentine life

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 Responses

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

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

    1. 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). 😀

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

  5. 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.

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

    Thanks from Germany.

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


Georgette Jupe

Welcome to my personal blog by a curious American girl living and working between Zug, Switzerland and Florence, Italy with my husband Nico, our newborn Annabelle and Ginger the beagle. This space is primarily to share about my love for Italy (currently on a 13 year romance) with a fair amount of real talk, practical advice, travel suggestions and adjusting to a new culture (Switzerland). Find me on IG @girlinflorence @girlinzug

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