Best Outdoor Markets
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The Best Outdoor Food Markets in Italy
We have found that a great way to experience authenticity, “live like a local,” have a lot of fun, taste and buy a lot of delicious fresh food, hear a lot of Italians singing and shouting, and have a lot of friendly interactions with local residents is to visit an outdoor food market. Fortunately, there are countless fantastic outdoor markets throughout Italy.
Food markets are an important part of life in Italian cities. Unlike Americans, who shop relatively infrequently for food, many Italians enjoy the convivial ritual of food shopping on a daily basis. Not only does this experience enrich Italian life. It also ensures that the food eaten by Italians is relatively fresh.
It is always best to visit outdoor markets early in the morning, as this is when the fresh vegetables, fruit, and cheese is most fresh and abundant.
Outdoor Markets Gallery
Best Markets in Italy
This list includes all noteworthy markets we are aware of, whether indoor, outdoor, food, or otherwise. We include photos and location maps for each of our recommended Best Markets. These can be found in our “Things To Do and See” maps for each city. If we have not been to one of the markets, we indicated it as such but we still have listed it because it is highly recommended by most travel guides. Once we have the opportunity to visit a market, we will update this post.
Mercato di Mezzo (the Middle Market) has been part of the culture of Bologna since Medieval times. Here you can explore fresh meats, cheeses, spices, and more. It is also a festive and vibrant place to have lunch or dinner – or share wine with friends.
Mercato di Mezzo is open daily from 8.30 am to Midnight.
Mercato La Pescheria sits in front of the historic “Archi della Marina” in a 16th century tunnel under Palazzo del Seminario dei Chiericithe. From afar, you can hear the “vuciata” (the cry of the sellers) to attract customers. The vuciata also creates a boisterous, lively scene. This is a one-stop shop as you will find fresh cheese, meats, fruits and produce aligning the streets.
The world-famous Mercato La Pescheria is open Monday-Saturday from 7:30 am to noon-ish.
Mercato Nuovo is a covered market located in the historic center of Florence where trade occurred dating back to the 11th century. The name, Mercato Nuevo, indicates its new location from the 16th century. You will not find food in this market – here you will find leather goods, clothing, and souvenirs The market is home to the famous ‘Fontana del Porcellino’ – a small fountain with a 17th-century statue of a wild boar.
Mercato Nuovo is open daily from 9:00 am to 6:30 pm.
The Mercato Santo Spirito operates the second Sunday monthly at the Piazza Santo Spirito. Go to the market to find vintage clothing and furnishings. Relax at one of the many bars or restaurants surrounding the piazza when it is time to take a break.
The Mercato Santo Spirito operates the second Sunday every month from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm.
Florence’s largest market, Mercato Centrale, is located on the first floor of the historic San Lorenzo market, which originally opened its doors in 1874. The market hosts vendors selling every type of local Tuscan food, from local butchers selling fresh meats, to cured meats, olive oils, fresh produce, local delicacies, and more. There are food stalls and restaurants for all tastes and budgets. Mercato Centrale is also host to numerous Italian cooking classes. Outside, you will find vendors selling leather goods, clothing and more.
Mercato Centrale is open daily from 8:00 am to midnight.
Florence’s 2nd largest market is a food-lovers dream. From fresh meat, cheese, bread, and wine, to produce and pasta – here you will find it all. There is also a small section allocated to household goods. Stop by to get fresh foods or stop in and visit one of the many food vendors for an inexpensive, authentic, and absolutely delicious lunch.
Mercato di Sant’Ambrogio is open Monday-Saturday from 7:00am to 2:00pm.
For something a little different, visit San Gregorio Armeno, otherwise known as “Christmas Alley.” This outdoor market along a pedestrian via is filled with artisans selling holiday goods, including nativity scene and other unusual ornaments, such as those resembling the pope, Italian and international celebrities, and even the baby Jesus. You won’t find outdoor food vendors but there are plenty of cafes along this beautiful, ancient via, dating back from the 5th Century BC, in the historic center.
San Gregorio Armeno is open daily.
Mercato di Porta Nolana is loud, gritty, and full of fishmongers and produce vendors competing for customers. This lively market also has cured meats, cheeses, and just about anything else you might imagine. There are numerous international food vendors where you can pick up a cheap meal. The market is located at Porta Nolana, one of the medieval city gates in Naples.
Mercato di Porta Nolana is open Monday -Saturday from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm, and on Sundays from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm.
Mercato della Vuccira is Palermo’s oldest market, dating back 700 years. It is vibrant and alive, full of vendors selling just about everything, including an overabundance of souvenirs. After sunset the market comes alive. The well-known Taverna Azzurra fills with people who come to drink the famous “Sicilian blood” or the classic “zibibbo”. Feeling adventurous? Try some of their unusual streetfood, including crocchè or scrapings, bread with rocky meusa (spleen), panelle, tanino stigghiole, swordfish rolls, boiled octopus, and roasted fish.
Mercato della Vucciria is open Monday to Saturday.
Mercato del Ballarò is the oldest and largest market in Palermo. Filled with vendors hawking fruits and vegetables by chanting and shouting to attract the attention of visitors. Foods come from Italy and North Africa. Sunday mornings are crazy busy and you will find a flea market filled with a huge display of used objects – televisions, antique turntables, furniture, paintings, clothing and “antiques”. In the evening people fill the square to come together to have drinks or dinner in one of the small places that offer inexpensive, yet traditional Palermo cuisine.
Mercato del Ballarò is open daily.
Mercato del Capo is the best market in Palermo. The market follows along the narrow Via San Agostino and extends onto some narrower side streets. Fish vendors are abundant, butchers display meats, and produce, nut and spice vendors have everything one could imagine. Stop by for a lunch of fresh fish salads, fried fish, and fish pastas.
Mercato del Capo is open every day from 7:00 am to 8:00 pm and Sundays and Wednesdays from 7:00 am to 1:00 pm.
Campo de’ Fiori
Campo de’ Fiori (Field of flowers) is one of the main squares of Rome. The square was paved in 1456 and now every morning since 1869, it hosts a large outdoor produce and flower market. There was a time when public executions took place in this square, commemorated by a statue of Giordano Bruno, who in the year 1600 was burned at the stake by the Roman Inquisition. Bruno’s statue sits in the center of the piazza.
Campo de’ Fiori is open Monday through Saturday from 7:00 am to 2:00 pm.
Nuovo Mercato di Testaccio is an indoor market with an outside feel. This market has everything. There are small vendors selling fashion, housewares, art, and novelty items. There are grocers, butchers, bakers, and other food artisans. And of course, there are food stalls to satisfy a plethora of tastes. Underneath this modern market is an archeological site that is limited to group tours and operates only twice a month.
Nuovo Mercato di Testaccio is open is open from Monday to Saturday from 7:00 am to 3:30 pm.
Piazza del Campo Market
Piazza del Campo was built so the entire population of Siena could meet for activities, games and political events. The famous Palio (horserace), the most important event in Siena, takes place every year on July 2 and August 16. The piazza hosts an outdoor food market each Wednesday and a flea market each Sunday. If you are lucky enough to visit during the first week in December, you can experience a Christmas market filled with food, wine, delicacies, gifts, and ornaments, as well as festivities lasting into the evening.
Piazza del Campo Market operates on Sundays and Wednesdays.
Mercato di Ortigia has influences from the region’s Arab, Greek, and Roman past. The main street, Via Emanuele De Benedictis, is filled with fresh fish, meat, cheese, produce and spice vendors – all are lively and describe their products by singing lullabies in the local dialect to grab your attention. Eat at one of the local salumerias or grab some local street food – fried calamari and anchovies – while wandering through the market.
Mercato di Ortigia is open Monday through Saturday from 7:30 am to 2:00 pm.
The Rialto Fish Market has been a Venetian tradition since 1097. The current market is set under the awnings of a 16th-century building adjacent to the Grand Canal. Exotic sea creatures are caught and sold fresh daily, and you will find fresh produce vendors leading up to the main fish market.
Riato Fish Market is open Tuesday through Saturday from 7:30 am to noon-ish.
Markets we have not yet visited:
- Milan (Milano) – Papiniano
- Genoa – Mercato Orientale
- Turin (Torino) – Porta Palazzo
- Padua – Piazza delle Erbe and Piazza della Frutta