Posted by: Debra Kolkka | March 18, 2012

Mercato Centrale

San Lorenzo is one of the oldest markets in Florence. The 2 story building was built in Via dell’Ariento in 1874.


The central market used to be where most Florentines bought their food. Modern supermarkets have changed this in recent years……unfortunately. Now that people everywhere are becoming more concerned about where their food comes from and how it is produced, perhaps more people will revert to shopping in wonderful places like this. If you have any interest in food, you must visit the central market. Even if you are just visiting Florence and don’t have a kitchen, go to look at the displays and the range of food and then go home and encourage your town to have a market like this.


The market building is quite impressive, but difficult to see as it is surrounded by the street market stalls filled with every imaginable leather item, scarves and anything else that might remotely appeal to a tourist. Fight your way through to the entrance and find yourself in an Aladin’s cave of food treasures.


I’ll have that one.





















Notice how I didn’t get a close up of the tripe stand.


This stand was particularly popular.





You can buy anything you could think of here.




Stop for lunch, or coffee and a snack at one of the cafes. Nerbone has been popular place for lunch since the beginning and offers a great selection at very reasonable prices.



Of course there is an excellent supply of pasta.




Don’t miss the central market if you go to Florence. You will find the market in Via dell’Ariento, not far from the Santa Maria Novella station. It is open Monday – Saturday, 7.00am until 2.00pm. There is a new eating area above the market and it is wonderful. Click here to see the post about it.

Click here to see the biggest food market I have ever seen.


  1. Wow, open and water mouthed :=)

    • You will have to go soon.

  2. We bought half a piglet there one Christmas and had great fun cooking it – we still have fond memories of that Christmas eve.

  3. It is an incredible place and the variety of goods is awesome. Great photos, Debra, they really depict the market.

    • I just wish it was a bit closer!

  4. Wow. Reminds me of the mercati comunali or rionali here in Milan. There are several. They look like throwbacks to the third world from the outside, but inside they are MARVELOUS! You can find everything. And fresh. A comment on what you say about supermarkets. I totally agree…but I noticed with my mother-in-law who’d grown up during the war, that she thought that supermarkets were somehow “cleaner” and “better”…she must have linked them with the times in which they sprouted up, thinking that they were sure signs of progress. I had a very hard time convincing her that it was better to buy unpackaged cheese at an open-air or communal market. She believed that it wasn’t as “hygienic” as what you’d get in a grocery store. Couldn’t be budged from that perception.

    • I see Italians loading up their trolleys in supermarkets and want to shout at them to go back to the markets. They will lose them if they don’t use them and that would be a crime.

  5. Fantastic Debra. You have captured the excitement of San Lorenzo to a tee. It’s hard to know where to look first! Did you stop for a panino and a small glass of red da Nerbone when you were there? Love the salsicce esagerate….

    • I didn’t stop at Nerbone as I had just been to Giacosa, my favourite cafe in Florence, but I will be back there soon.

      • Giacosa is my favourite bar in Florence too. It’s right round the corner from my cousin’s little hotel so always our first stop in the morning…

      • Giacosa is always my first stop in Florence. I see the same lovely group of ladies there each time. Last year I spoke to them and photographed them for the blog and now they say hello to me when I arrive.

  6. Amazing! What great care they’ve put into display and presentation! It’s a sight to behold..thanks Deb!

    • I don’t think anyone does it better than the Italians.

  7. I love those markets, the smell, the sound and the glorious array of fresh and tasty food that can be enjoyed on the spot. Great photos, they’re making my mouth water 🙂

    • I find food markets fascinating. I look for them wherever I go in Italy.

  8. I agree with you, Debra, that nothing beats the wonderful atmosphere of the bustling, colourful markets compared with the pristine, clinical supermarkets. The Adelaide Markets here have resisted the changes of ‘progress’ by city councilors over the years. We Adelaideans hope our wonderful Adelaide Markets remain that way. I love your photos – these ought to be shown to any councillor who is thinking of changing markets into supermarkets.

    • The Adelaide markets are wonderful. I hope they don’t change.

  9. That is one impressive market! We have market day on Mondays and it doesnt look like this!

    • We have a little market in the village every Wednesday and Saturday morning and it is also good, but not like this.

  10. We have a farmer’s market here on Saturdays, but it looks NOTHING like this. Here the fresh pasta looks like it might be to die for. Gosh, now I’m hungry.

    • The Florence market is chock full of wonderful stuff.There would be no excuse for being a bad cook here.

  11. Oh I would die of excitement in a place like that. that would me clapping my hands in delight, such a range of good good food.. wow. i am amazed.. c

    • There is stuff here I never knew existed, it is incredible.

  12. How gorgeous is this!

    • It is incredible isn’t it????

  13. A market is always a place full of colors and fragrances (and perfect spot for snapping pictures as well). Lovely!

    • I love the markets here in Florence, a foodie’s delight.

  14. What a beautiful market I wished to be there now… I loved it so much dear Debra, Thank you, with my love, nia

    • It is a great place to visit.

  15. I could spend many hours taking photos in there.

    • It would be very easy to spend hours here, days even.

  16. Fabulous photos Debra, which show why I love markets too. How could you not have fun here!

    • There is certainly lots to choose from here.

  17. Your pictures are just AMAZING! Our last trip to Tuscany I planned our day trips based on their market day-love them! When I visited my cousins near Naples we went to their Saturday market and picked out the fruit and vegetables for the week! What fun! Somehow I have missed this market in Florence-a must see next trip!

    • You have to go! It is only open until 2.00pm so go early.

  18. Your pictures brought back happy memories. I was awe struck the first time I was in Florence and saw the the central food market as I had never seen anything like it before.

    • The selection here is incredible here, how do you choose.

  19. Oh yum!

  20. Wonderful! I have yet to find this…thank you for the pictures and address!

    • It is not far from the station, you need to track this place down.

  21. Haven’t visited this market for years and if I lived there I would be fat as…
    Thanks for reminding me, ciao Roz

    • It makes you want to get into the kitchen and cook something.

  22. I would be in heaven with a market such as this one. Such variety of foods make my mouth water! Thanks for sharing!

    • I think everyone should visit at least once.

  23. I shouldn’t be looking at these photos so close to dinner.

    • It will give you a good appetite.

  24. Glorious 🙂

  25. SO BEAUTIFUL!!! I would like to taste a little of everything! (… except the tripe…)

    • I’m with you on the tripe!

  26. That is a beautiful market! Thanks for taking us there with you. I love visiting the markets of places that I visit and seeing what they have compared to what we have back home!

    • You would love this one!

  27. Lovely photos Debra! Thanks for sharing! I love this market and it’s unfortunate that I forgot to take photos. I was overwhelmed by all the goodies and was busy trying to decide what to have for lunch 🙂

    • You will need to return with your camera.

      • Definitely planning on it 🙂

  28. God, I love Italy more and more 🙂
    especially Ferenze

    • I never tire of Florence.

      • I have been there only one time 🙁 and fall in love

      • You need to return I think.

  29. Another wonderful post!!! When I was at this market, a few years ago, I spent my time outside; I really was not aware of the ‘innards’. Good thing; it would have driven me mad. I love the ‘exaggerated’ sausages….what splendour; unthinkable variety of foods all displayed in such a caring manner; like small museums where you can buy everything!! Lemon tagliatelle?? For me, you packed a punch of ‘smells’ along with this post too; wonderful. And, thank you.

    • I think I have to go back to buy some exaggerated sausages. They just have to be good.

  30. i’ve been here!!!! i love your posts – they take me back to my short two weeks in Italy. i took a little course on oil tasting and balsamics at the Conti stand.
    ….also – the olive focaccia bread is DIVINE!!

    x – whit

    • It is no wonder that Florence is one of the most visited cities in the world.

  31. Your photos are pure torture !!!
    I love this market. I will dream today of walking through the market indulging
    myself x

    • You will be here soon enough.

  32. Surely this can’t have a rival anywhere else in the world!

    • I don’t think I have seen better.

  33. Amazing Florence!!! I really would like to go back… hope very soon. Beautiful pictures

    • Florence is amazing and this market is one of the things that makes it so wonderful to visit.

  34. Oh my goodness! What a place 🙂 I think I would be totally dumbfounded in a place like this…I would want to buy and taste everything, but probably leave without anything because I couldn’t make a decision!!! Ha! Ha! I can only imagine actually having a place like that to venture in to buy my food….that would be a dream come true! What did you buy when you were there?

    • I didn’t buy anything as I didn’t want to carrry things while I was on my Florence wanderings, but I will be back there soon.

  35. […] about Italy always put a smile on my face. The food. The architecture. The scenery. Thank goodness I found Debra over at Bagni di Lucca and Beyond to […]

  36. […] flowers in the food market in Florence look […]

  37. Reblogged this on Our House in Tuscany and commented:

    Florence is an easy day trip from Vergemoli. Take the time to visit the fabulous food markets.

  38. […] incredible San Lorenzo markets in Florence came third in popularity…with good reason. This place is foodie heaven. I just wish it was a […]

  39. […] San Lorenzo Mercato Centrale is, to use a well-worn but highly appropriate cliche, a feast for the eyes. As it turned out, […]

  40. What an incredible market, Debra. I wish it was just down the road from me. 🙂

  41. We visited this market when in Florence, but it was just a fleeting visit so we were not able to buy much of the delicious fare. Now we are on our extended stay in Umbria, we really appreciate the markets for their colour, their interesting food and their wonderful local produce.

    • I go to a tiny local market nearby for delicious fresh produce, but I wish I could shop every day in Florence.

  42. […] the Central Market for fabulous choice like […]

  43. […] Chapel and impressive mausoleum (no pictures allowed inside) Florence's (unbelievable) Fresh market We stopped at (now my favorite) a place for lunch that has terrific chocolate; Rivoire, […]

  44. […]… […]

  45. Mmmm, everything looks delicious!

    • It is a great market. I wish I could shop there every day.

  46. Just wish I could shop there this minute!!! Terrific photos! I can happily wander the Italian markets all day long.

    • I wish I could shop there every day!

  47. The photos of the Mercato di San Lorenzo look amazing!! If you love markets, next time you come to Florence you should also try the Mercato delle Cascine.

    • Thank you for the suggestion. I will definitely visit the market.

  48. […] Florence’s fabulous food market […]

  49. Debra, I am a few years late to this post… But it was in 2012 that I fought my way into this market while looking for shawls to bring home on the street. It was my personal foodie’s paradise. I could not get enough of the smells, and just touching things. I shopped at the market afterwards to bring back gifts of pasta even a highly recommended block of parmigiano for myself.
    I cannot imagine shopping at a supermarket, when this market has everything you need for a freshly cooked meal. Such a great post.

    • I almost never buy fresh food at supermarkets. I prefer to support small traders and to shop locally. I would love this market to be my ‘local’.

      • Deb, I would just love to be at this market myself. I do have a local Farmer’s market and we shop there. I also try to grow my own tomatoes etc. but really, between genetically modified food here in the US and chemicals, I worry for my children when they grow older.

      • We do the best we can with what is available. It would be great if we could step back a bit and get to know where our food is coming from and demand better practices by our governments.

      • They are trying here, where I live – in Northern California – to label products that are genetically modified. Or at least to get a bill going. But it is impossible as it is not banned here unlike Europe, Australia and parts of South America.

        We’re lucky with our local Farmer’s market. We really do try to eat farm to table. Not easy for many though.

  50. […] post I wrote on the food markets 2 years ago has become my most popular post ever. Click here for the lovely […]

  51. Defintely a place to visit!

  52. Oh my! I would have to be dragged out of this place!! Fab photos Debra.

    • It is a wonderful market, you would love it.

  53. […] is a tabernacle at the end of the street where the Florence Central Markets are…the Tabernacle of Fonticine…named for the little fountain at the […]

  54. […] We'll go back for some seafood after we've cooked the chicken and pasta meals and I'll try to take some photos next time. It's quite a place! (Here's a link to a good write-up about the Mercato, with some lovely photos.) […]

  55. i think i need to go here

    • I think you should. I have just returned to Italy and will be in Florence as soon as I can get there.

  56. […] the Mercato Centrale (see more Mercato Centrale ) I spotted the fountain with 7 faces and was happy to see it has been cleaned […]

Leave a Reply


%d bloggers like this: