Visiting an Italian Food Market
To really live like a local, you need to shop like a local. Generally, Italians do not stockpile. They are generally not visiting a Costco and buying large quantities of food in bulk to store for lengthy periods of time. Fresh is the name of the game and there’s no better place to find fresh food than at a local Italian food market or “mercato.”
The markets are full of fresh fruit, vegetables, herbs, nuts, cheeses, salumi, bread and more! It’s an embarrassment of riches and a way of life at the same time. The prices are reasonable, goods are seasonal and it’s the perfect time and place to sample the local cuisine. As you walk through the beautiful market and take in all the scents, sights and people, notice how relaxing the experience can be. It’s what living like a local is all about. For an authentic Tuscan experience, visiting a local market is essential. You can soak up the culture and rub shoulders with the locals. Watch the many different colorful personalities selling their goods—the local farmers, cheese-makers and artisans come to sell their goods every day. While at the local market, you usually can enjoy other culinary delights like fresh pasta, desserts and even, sample some wine .
I personally use the farmers market not only to buy fresh produce and cheeses but also to socialize with friends and acquaintances. It can be an adventure, a time for socializing and practicing or keeping up your Italian language skills. You can also get the latest on all your questions from the locals—ranging from recipes and the best produce to buy right now to politics and elections around Italy and more. Everyone has an opinion! Italian food markets are weekly, bi-weekly or even daily. It depends on where you are located. Most Italians frequent the food markets regularly as a means of buying their fresh fruit and vegetables, cheeses, breads and even desserts. Much of the shopping is done before lunch so that the food purchased at the market can be incorporated into the lunch menu and is supremely fresh.
For me, visiting a local Italian food market is much more than just buying fresh tomatoes, burrata and basil even though I usually make a caprese salad right after my visit! It’s an essential part of Italian life, shopping with the locals, seeing old friends and making new ones, maybe stopping for a coffee after and generally catching up on life. It’s a feeling of connectedness that is hard to find in a US grocery store with lists in our hands and little time for enjoying the moment. I always leave the market with a fresh perspective and a smile on my face. I look forward to experiencing a local food market each time I am in Italy. It reminds me of what’s important in life.
We invite you to join us on our Cooking Under the Tuscan Sun Experience so you can experience Italian food markets, an essential part of local life!