Florence, the city of celebrated covered bridges, world-class artwork, architecture, and history, also feeds its citizens very, very well. It is the capital city of Tuscany, after all! The rich wine, cheese, and olive region flows from the hills and fields into the bustling urban hub.
Why not pepper days spent visiting museums and galleries, climbing steps, and admiring fountains with a visit to a few of the city’s acclaimed food markets? Prepare for a palate-pleasing and tummy-filling experience. While central markets fill with tourists and visiting foodies, other markets may offer more authentic and local experiences. It depends on how you like to fill your plate.
I’ve picked out several independent and guided tour ideas for those wanting to explore their culinary senses like a Florentine.
Prepare for a sensory overload when you make your way past the leather workers and vendors outside Mercato Centrale. Fantastic displays of meats, fish, vegetables and cheeses cover tables well-designed to tempt your tastebuds.
Above the market floor is a perfect place to people-watch, sip wine, listen to music, and savor each bite of your bounty. The market usually closes about 2pm so arrive early, fill yourself to bursting, and then do as the Italians and take an afternoon nap.
After dusk, from 8pm onward, join the locals at the Mercardo plaza. Sip a few glasses of Prosecco, admire the servers’ balancing skills, or for a few more Euros enjoy a wine tasting session.
Venture across town to explore the slightly smaller market of Sant’Ambrogio. Sample more than food here; you’ll be mixing with the locals searching for the best pasta, seasonal vegetables, plants, kitchen utensils, and clothing. It’s open mornings at 8am till 2pm from Monday to Saturday.
Mercato Nuovo or the Porcellino Market
The Loggia del Mercato Nuovo originally opened in 1551 as a refined place for local merchants to sell luxury goods. Today it’s filled with tourist products but just outside is a special porker. It’s a copy of the original fountain by Pietro Tacca of a bronze wild boar. While the body is darkly patinated, the snout remains shiny. According to a popular tradition, when you rub the nose you’re guaranteed to return to Florence. You can test your luck at any time in the open plaza.
Wine tour in the Oltarno District
Explore the Florentine Oltarno District at sunset with an expert guide. Sip a glass of Chianti and bite into crostini prepared in a famous local wine shop. The small tour group will then stroll across the river as the sun turns the water to sparkling gold, and stop at the Piazza Signoria to refill glasses and enjoy more appetizers. A visit to Piazza Duomo completes the two-hour tour. Tours run with local guides, rain or shine.
Find out more about the region and foodie tours of Florence:
- Set up your own market visit itinerary with the Walkabout Florence suggestions.
- Explore the history of the markets of Florence.
- Reserve a place for a gourmet food tour.
This post is part of the Hipmunk City Love project.