Mercato centrale, as it's name suggests, is placed bang in the centre of Florence. And it's a food market. It's kinda like Borough Market is to London.
Inside you'll find the odd tourist that's found their way there but you'll mostly see chefs buying wholesale and locals buying their ingredients for that night's dinner.
The smell of truffles as you walk in will wash over you and, if you're anything like me, pull you in like the tractor beam in Star Wars. It's got some amazing wines (nearly all varieties of Super Tuscans), cheeses, olive oils, bread, huge bags of fresh porcini mushrooms (depending on the time of year) but, for me anyway, the main reason to go is for the cafes at the rear of the market. There's always a queue and it's packed with locals. A good sign. It's very cheap (about €3.50 for a main and €2 for a medium caraffe of wine. The porchetta sandwiches at Nerbone at €3.5 are an absolute must. They're incredible.
Piazza del Mercato, Florence, Italy
Google map: bit.ly/12SI4Jr
Individual shops on every corner from shoes, clothes, unique stationary etc.
With the added advantage of picturesque outdoor street market, with quality leather in all shades of the rainbow and styles from briefcase to handbags.
Mercato nuovo smaller market next to statute of il porcellino - the saying goes if you touch it you will return again, which would be wonderful mixing sightseeing, great food and shopping.
Ponte Vecchio for the special present of jewellery and watches.
Plaza di San Lorenzo, 50122 Florence, Italy
+39 055 23320
Google map: bit.ly/trDkS7
More of a farmers'/artesans' market than your average fruit n veg affair. Nonetheless, it's a great place to shop for upmarket souvenirs like honey, wine, jewellery and trinkets.
If you get tired of the market stalls, there's also the fantastic - on the inside at least - church of Santa Maria del Carmine to explore, and a host of bars and cafes (the area's also a hub of Florence nightlife) to sit in and watch the hustle and bustle unfold around you.
Sundays, Piazza del Carmine, Oltrarno
Situated to the east of the Duomo in via Pietrapiana where it joins Borgo la Croce, this is a local's market with a great range of food and there are also clothes stalls around the outside of the building. Cheaper than Mercato Centrale, it has a small cafe with large marble tables where the market workers eat. You can have a bowl of pasta and a litre bottle of beer for around four euro.
A huge covered food market, open Monday-Saturday 7am-2pm, also Saturday 4pm-8pm.
More fabulous Italian food than you can poke a stick at - and infinitely better priced than those “Tuscan specialty” shops pitched at tourists. If you plan to drag home your own body weight in formaggi, porcini, salsicce, lenticche and vino then this is the place for you. Also a few sit-down places for a super-cheap lunch - mind the pigeons though.
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