Places to go in Tuscany
Mercato Centrale (Central Market) may not be the typical tourist site and some may say it is simply a food market but they would be wrong. The Mercato Centrale is a large market in the middle of the San Lorenzo Market area. If you are not familiar with Florence, the San Lorenzo Market area is the open air market with stalls selling primarily leather goods but also other souvenirs (i.e. the Venice Carnival Masks, pottery, etc.). Since most everyone goes to the San Lorenzo Market at some point a quick detour into the Central Market is highly advised. You will find some of the most appetizing foods (pastas, meats, fish, cheese and the list goes on) for sale; I only wished I lived in Florence so I could purchase my produce here. Since I am a foodie it was easy for me to get lost in the Market, but even if you are not it is still something to see, if only for a quick walk through. The sights, the smells all combine to make a true Italian experience. If you live near a local Italian Market area (i.e. Arthur Avenue in the Bronx or even the upscale Eatly in NYC) you will see how they are designed in the image of an Italian Market. In Florence, there are other markets throughout the city, but this is the biggest and most impressive. Like most structure is Italy, there is some history behind this historic market but quite honestly I went simply for the food. Maybe one of these days I will go with the goal of studying the history…
Within the Market there are several eating establishments where you can grab a quick and cheap lunch. It is not luxurious and not fine Italian dining but it is an experience and a quick way to get a decent meal. The Market itself is somewhat difficult to find, but you will see stairs that lead into the various entrances tucked behind some of the leather stalls. If you can’t find it just ask one of the vendors. Be aware the Market is only open between 7am and 2pm, my advice is go before you start shopping for your leather goods as the leather stalls are open all day.