Craving a cappucino and a cornetto? Need a bouquet of fresh flowers or picnic provisions? How about fresh pasta to enjoy at home? Or maybe you’re just in the mood for pizza and a beer? Florence’s Central Market or Mercato Centrale Firenze www.mercatocentrale.it is Florence’s answer to foodie heaven. Housed in a historic building originally erected in 1847, and open from 10 a.m. to midnight, this is the place to go.
The market on the ground floor is fun to explore with every kind of seasonal produce, pastas, sauces, meats, cheeses, and flowers. Anything you could want that’s fresh and in season is right here.
Upstairs at the Mercato Centrale is one of our favorite stops for for lunch, though you can also have breakfast, snacks, sweets, drinks and dinner here.
Go get some terrific Neapolitan style pizza at Pizzeria Sud. You can take your slices to one of the communal tables or go upstairs for table service. We opted for the former and enjoyed the hustle and bustle of the place.
There are lots of tasty options– pasta, panini, cheese and meat platters, fish, pizza, even burgers and fried chicken to choose from. There is also a coffee bar, wine, beer, pastries, gelato and delicious desserts–something to please most any palate.
Everything on offer here from the hamburgers made from Chianina beef at La Toraia di Enrico Lagorio, the pasta from Raimondo Mendolia, Maurizio e Poala Rosellini’s fresh fish, the bufala mozzarella, beautiful baked goods, chocolates and gelato are all of the highest quality.
We even sampled the trippa fritta—fried tripe, a Florentine favorite, though not to my taste.
After lunch (or dinner), you’ll probably want coffee and something sweet. Please remember that no self-respecting Italian would even consider ordering a cappuccino, latte or similar milky coffee drink after breakfast hours. Stick to the espresso. Ask for a caffe lungo if you miss your American coffee. Desserts are in abundance here and include gelato, pastries, cookies, and cannoli, which are stuffed while you wait—as they should be. Crushed pistachios on the ends are optional.
Upstairs is also where you’ll find Eataly www.eataly.net/it. which features Italian grocery items, household goods, personal care items and my favorite Florentine soaps from Nesti Dante. You’ll also find a wine shop specializing in Chianti Classico selections, a cooking school, a bancomat (ATM) and public restrooms which are in short supply in many cities like Florence.
If you feel the need for yet more shopping, there are also stalls outside the building on the surrounding streets with scarfs, leather items, and souvenirs—all the typical Florentine goods you’d expect to find.
Buon appetito and happy shopping!