The Best Food Markets in Italy
April 30, 2020
At Walks of Italy we take Italian food seriously and want to share our passion with you. If you enjoy our guides to Italian food, take a look at our Rome Food Tour, Florence Food Tour, Venice Food Tour, and Pasta Making Class.
One of the most exciting and authentic aspects of Italy’s cities are their food markets. Whether they’re selling produce, fish, meat, or all of the above, They’r one of the best ways to get to know a region’s local food culture. If, like us, you’re interested in eating seasonally they are also the best place to figure out what is in season (read our blog post for more on how to eat seasonally in Italy). But markets can be hard to find. You have to know where to go and, more importantly, when to go, to catch them in full swing. Don’t worry: we’ve got you covered. Here are five of our favorite markets in Rome, Florence, Venice, and more!
Ballarò food market, Palermo
We love this market so much that our own Walks Traveler, Simona, did a video tour of it! This thousand-year-old market features food stall after food stall, with every kind of (in-season!) food and type of produce: fresh ricotta, artichokes, snails, lamb shanks, squash, spices—the list goes on. And the prices are excellent!
But even if you’re not grocery-shopping, it’s worth paying a visit to soak up the authentic atmosphere and, of course, to buy some street snacks: arancine, sfincione, and pane con panelle are just some of the delicious foods you can enjoy right there. (Check out the video above to see what street food Simona went for!).
The Ballarò food market, located at Palazzo Reale, is open every day but Sunday. If you want to know more great things to see in Palermo, read our city guide to Palermo.
Rialto fish market, Venice
Venice’s best restaurants have been getting their fresh fish here for centuries. This fish market, located at the Campo della Pescaria in San Polo, boasts stall after stall of fishermen unloading their goods, caught right in the lagoon. Get here early if you want the full experience: The market opens at 7am (and closes at about 2pm), and shoppers in the know come first thing in the morning to get their pick of the catch.
Just keep in mind the market is closed on Sunday and Monday. This is why Venetians refrain from ordering fish at restaurants on Mondays – it’s unlikely to be fresh. If you like seafood you’ll love our guide to eating fish in Italy!).
The Rialto fish market is located in San Polo, Campo della Pescaria, and open every day but Sunday and Monday.
Want to explore the Rialto fish market with a local Venetian guide? Check out our Venice food experience!
Pignasecca food market, Naples
Pignasecca is the oldest outdoor food market in Naples—which is really saying something, since Naples has some 60 markets throughout the city! It’s famous not just for its inexpensive, seasonal fruits and vegetables, but for its top-notch pastries, cheeses, and breads. And since there’s nary a tourist to be seen, the opportunities to observe Neapolitans in their natural habitat—shopping for food, and eating food—are endless.
The Pignasecca market is located on Via Pignasecca, and open every day. For more must-try food experiences, check out our blog on the best food near Naples’ train station.
Campo dei Fiori market, Rome
This is, without a doubt, the most colorful market in Rome’s centro storico! Once a site of public executions today, the beautiful square bustles with vendors selling produce, oils, vinegars, spices, and other random goods (from espresso makers to teaspoons!). The outdoor market gets started first thing in the morning, and vendors start putting their goods away in the early afternoon, so for a real taste—in more ways than one—get there early. Check out the video above to see this market in action (skip to 1:40 if you want to get right to Campo dei Fiori!).
if you want to meet the local vendors and enjoy tastings at the market—as well as visit authentic, nearby food shops and learn to make a pizza the real Roman way— check out our Rome food experience.
The Campo dei Fiori market, located on the piazza of the same name, is open every day but Sunday.
Sant’Ambrogio food market, Florence
The neighborhood of Sant’Ambrogio, about a 12-minute walk from Florence’s Duomo, is one of the oldest quarters in Florence. Today, it’s also one of the most authentic and residential. So locals make their way to the market here every day to buy not only produce, bread, cheeses, meats, and fish, but even clothing and furniture! Because most tourists (and tour groups) head to the Mercato Centrale, the atmosphere here is much more relaxed—and better for people-watching. Just remember that, like many of these markets, it’s closed Sunday and closes at 2pm every day but Wednesday and Friday (when it’s open until 7pm).
The Sant’Ambrogio market is located at Piazza Ghiberti and open every day but Sunday. To get an idea of the type of foods you’ll find in this market, read our post on the foods you need to try in Umbria and Tuscany.
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