With a plethora of famous historical sights, world famous monuments and a long list of things to do and see, many people forget about the simple things Italy has to offer. Florence is especially full of surprises, with something new to experience around every corner. As the birthplace of the Renaissance and a focal point of medieval history, the trinkets and treasures that can be found in the vintage markets of Florence are an adventure all of their own. Not only are the markets great for treasure hunting, they’re also full of local Tuscan produce, wine, and leather goods, making any market a great stop for unique souvenirs. Whether you’re casually strolling through, drunk on the Tuscan sunshine, or you’re ready to haggle for that one-of-a-kind piece of history, the outdoor markets are not to be missed. Here are some of the best markets Florence has to offer.
Mercato Nuovo (Mercato Porcellino)
Known for its leather goods, scarves, and central location, Mercato Nuovo is a newer version of the original leather market in San Lorenzo. Nestled under beautiful medieval style arches, you can also find the bronze statue of a wild boar (Il Porcellino), which is why the market is locally known as Mercato Porcellino. Rubbing its nose while dropping a coin from its mouth as you make a wish is said to bring good luck.
Located in the heart of the San Lorenzo neighborhood, this 19th-century indoor market hall, constructed from iron and glass, sells fresh, local ingredients. The surrounding restaurants are its most eager customers, snagging the best quality ingredients for the day’s menu before the rest of the city wakes up, and early bird locals follow shortly after. Italians take their food very seriously, so anything less than perfection won’t do. On the second level of this market is the newly added food court, where you can have your own personal Tuscan tasting of the region’s best local ingredients. It’s essentially a gourmet food court with everything from fancy hamburgersto a full enoteca of the region’s best wines. If you’re looking for a quick lunch with great food and something for everyone, Mercato Centrale’s upper level is a foodie heaven.
This market sprawls throughout the San Lorenzo neighborhood in the streets and small squares surrounding the old indoor produce market, Mercato Centrale. This market is the original leather market of the city: get lost in this maze of street vendors peddling their leather goods and Florentine souvenirs. Although not everything is great quality, and not always a great bargain, be prepared to spend some money here for the best leather goods, and don’t make eye contact walking by unless you’re ready to haggle. Pro tips: stand your ground, remember that not everything is real leather (though difficult for amateurs to spot), and pay attention to your purse as this is a great place for pickpockets to score treasures of their own from distracted tourists.
Similar to Mercato Centrale, this indoor and outdoor covered market boasts local ingredients and an authentic Italian market experience. Since its location in Piazza Ghiberti is slightly off the beaten tourist path, you can find locals doing their weekly shopping here. Open from 7am to 1pm, the market is full of fast-paced produce sales with all the sights, sounds and smells you would expect from an open air European market. Because this is a daily market for locals, anything from household items like light bulbs to fresh prosciutto and even a vintage section of clothes and trinkets can be found here. If you’re looking for authentic, this is it.
This perma-market has temporarily relocated while its normal location gets a complete renovation. The market currently resides in the Sant’Ambrogio neighborhood in a square called Largo Annigoni right next to the Sant’Ambrogio market. Why not kill two birds with one stone and see both in the same day? This fantastic antique market has plenty of well chosen treasures sold by collectors. As you would imagine, they are not cheap but they are worth it. For the real history lovers, this is the place to find something to add to your collection. Be prepared to spend some serious time here digging through years of things. Open 9am-7pm Monday through Saturday.
Every Thursday morning from September through June you can find one of Florence’s most popular squares, Piazza della Repubblica, full of colorful, fresh flowers. What better way to add to the existing beauty of the only square with a vintage carousel than with an array of nature’s beauty. Even if it’s only for the photo opportunity, this is a must see outdoor market.
If you love treasure hunting for anything vintage, this monthly outdoor market is for you. It takes up the entire main square in a tiny hill town just outside of Florence, which overlooks the entire city. It’s held the first Saturday and Sunday of every month, so mark your calendar if you are in Florence during that time. Take a break by enjoying one of the charming little restaurants surrounding the square or grab some gelato and people-watch. When you’re done, take a short trek up the steep road to get a view of the entire valley of Florence and surrounding countryside.
For serious antique lovers, this market will not disappoint. Recently relocated to Piazzale Vittorio Veneto for more space, this antique market boasts everything from small trinkets to large paintings and furniture. If you are lucky (and patient) enough to scour this market, you might be able to find a one-of-a-kind souvenir from Italy that you’ll never forget. The outdoor market is held on the third Saturday and Sunday of every month and brings collectors from all over Tuscany to haggle and barter for the perfect addition to their elaborate collections.
Located in a favorite local piazza, the Santo Spirito Flea Market is a great place to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon browsing through the quality vintage clothes, historical household antiques, handmade artisan goods, and anything else you can think of, all while taking in the view of one of Florence’s most underrated churches. You can find this outdoor market on the second Sunday of every month from morning to sundown.
In the same piazza the following Sunday there is another outdoor market with a different focus: organic, local and handmade artisan products. With goods ranging from honey, wine, and bread to hand made products like cutting boards made of olive wood, jewelry from upcycled materials, and beeswax candles, this is definitely a nature lover’s paradise. Sample some local flavors as you stroll through the market before lunch and then find a handmade gift for someone after. No matter your pace or style, anyone can find the kind of market that piques their interest in Florence. Practice some Italian phrases and don’t forget your cash and camera.