Italy is a top destination for foodies and it would be a deadly sin not to visit a local food market while there on holiday. From north to south, we have selected our three favourite mercati; the ones which promise to engage all 5 of your senses: sight, sound, touch, smell and taste!
Mercato di Rialto, Venezia
The location of this market is quite stunning, sitting right next to Rialto Bridge in the heart of Venice. If you come early in the morning, you can see the freshest fish and seafood sold under picturesque shady arcades. In the section dedicated to fruit and vegetables, the market is a carnival of colours: fiery red chillies, deep purple aubergines, fresh green salads and juicy apples invite you to take a bite. Local delicacies includetardivo, a local type of radicchio leaf chicory, and carciofo violetto, a purple artichoke grown on the neighbouring island of Sant’Erasmo. The market has been taking place in Rialto since the end of the 11th century. We can only imagine how it must have looked like at the time when merchants from faraway lands were visiting the lagoon…
Porta Palazzo, Torino
This market takes place on Piazza della Repubblica, but locals just call it Porta Palazzo. Interestingly, this is Europe’s largest open air market. Needless to say, visitors are spoilt for choice and prices are incredibly low compared to other shops and supermarkets in the area. Porta Palazzo is the heart of Torino’s multicultural neighbourhood, so expect a lot of North African, Middle Eastern, Oriental and Eastern European influences. Prosciutto di Parma is sold next to Romanian smoked sausages, Moroccan spices and Mediterranean stuffed olives. The atmosphere is that of a bazaar, in which loud vendors speaking exotic languages invite you to buy at their stall. Head here if you want to see the often hidden, multicultural side of Italy.
Mercato della Vucciria, Palermo
Palermo’s most famous market. Here you can experience the true spirit of the city, the smell of delicious fresh food and the poetic voices of vendors and buyers. Walking among the stalls you will definitely hear the vendors shouting to attract customers in their typical dialect. The name Vucciria comes from the French word Boucherie, which indicates that originally it was a meat market. This place is an explosion of colours, from bright citruses to red sun-blush tomatoes. Prices here are also quite low, so try some local specialties and stock up for home! Palermo is a great destination if you are a street food lover. At this market you will find plenty of stalls selling local street food: panelle (local chickpea fritters), arancini (deep-fried risotto balls) and the glorious panino ca meusa (spleen sandwich).
Words by Bibianna Norek.