Thursday, April 21, 2011

San Lorenzo Mercato, Florence

There are many lessons in food display which can be taken from European Farmers Markets.  I often refer to “planed” displays.  Here is an excellent example, in Florence.  Why we don’t see this more in the States I do not know, because visually this draws me right in. Look at these snaking ribbons of fruits and vegetables.  Crowned with exotic pineapples and artichoke stalks.  Plenty of color, not as boring as simple bins of fruits and veggies.  I think I will ask Monsieur Rick and Raquel if I can test a display one week.  You see all the produce, not just the stuff on top.  I am sure this sells more stuff than boxes.  Oh this is a longer post and merits more comment, but it’s my jumping off point for the Florence Farmers Market, which is called the Mercato Centrale

IMG_4969Note the citrus, perfect fava, cherry tomatoes and squash with flowers; see the strawberries, and of course the artichokes, several varieties.  Here we have “artichokes,” there the varieties and origin are identified.  Love the whole thing, don’t you?

The market in Florence is what is called a “covered” market; it is indoors and a semi-permanent or in this case, I think a permanent space.  The streets nearby are filled with vendors selling every sort of leather good.  The beautiful building dates to the 19C and you see the farmers’ vehicles outside.  Versus the quaint and decorative trucks of Rome, here you have larger commercial vehicles~



Versus the very fresh feel of Rome, here there was much that was dried or preserved.  Hams; oh what a beautiful display, though the pine boughs were out of date for March~


Dried “pachino” or cherry tomatoes~


I liked this vendor, they set out a few fresh on top of the dried, in case you wondered what the dried was~


Large dried porcini; I do not know when “fresh” are in season, but you can find them from Dirk at Palisades market~


More dried, in fact, a mountain of fine dried Porcini~


Spanish anchovies; I will verify the comparable product in France, but the whole display and signage does not make me want to buy this~


There was a lot of fresh stuff, and I have to say, I have become somewhat obsessed with artichokes. At this market I saw mostly Morellini, which I did not see in Rome, it was Violetto and Romaneschi there. 


These are “cleaned/”puliti” and look very tender~


these Morrellini look great, fresh & tender~


In a covered market you get refrigerated foods, like these cheeses~


Fresh Pecorino!~


There is pasta being made, on commercial machines, not by the Nonna~


And there is fresh pasta for sale~


There is a bustle of activity with the butchers~


This man was unpacking cut-up chicken; he is very flexible.  Why he didn’t tip the bucket I don’t know, but he repeatedly half-disappeared into this vat and it was entertaining to me~


Various fresh greens and such were being unloaded, and aren’t these nice greens?  I think the peak times are late morning; before 9am ( I was on my way to the Uffizi) it was rather quiet in terms of shoppers.


As I look back over my photos, it’s not the fresh food that caught my eye.  Here more hams; excellent~


Look at the peppercorn-studded prize here~


and here some fruits~


and of course Biscotti (“cantucci”) with Rum~


The flowers were not like Rome, they were a sort of an afterthought, to me.  This is obviously not where the Florentine go to buy fresh flowers.


I think if I were to tour this market with a local, they would give me a different tour.  I will call Fillipo the next time I am in Florence.  This market to me did not have the emphasis on “fresh” that I wanted.

In one week I leave for France, and I will be touring many many markets.  Stay tuned.


  1. We like the same things, Love open markets. That pecorano Chesse, makes me think of a place on top of a mountian a few minutes out of Florence.A restaurant for locals by a church, it had picnic tables. I had the best cheese, they said it was green pecorano. A young cheese,the best. Loved the photo's. yvonne

  2. Happy Easter to you my friend! I am thinking of you with all of your colorful baskets for Easter eggs:) Thanks for the beautiful tour~

  3. OMG, I am dying! Living in a small town and seeing this AGAIN......Being held hostage by the local unsupermarket......Happy Easter!Maryanne

  4. Ok, now I am really getting excited! :)

  5. Andrea I an so thrilled that you are sharing these magnificent images!! It is so interesting to see the difference in the markets!

    I am sure you are getting excited about the trip with Laura and will come home with great finds!

    Have any of the sun hats arrived?

    I hope you had a wonderful Easter!

    Art by Karena

  6. It appears you didn't skimp and had a beautiful experience there. I can only imagine!!