Navigate an Italian Farmers’ Market Like a Local – (Tips & Useful Phrases 2021)
Visiting the farmers’ markets in Tuscany is an unmissable experience if you wish to get a taste of authentic Italy. Farmers’ markets are at the heart of the everyday Italian lifestyle and take place once a week in the overwhelming majority of cities, villages, and towns across the country. In fact, do not be surprised if you realise that there is a farmers’ market everywhere you go! Here are some details that can help you experience this farmers’ market-navigating thing like an Italian, including how to select the right vendor and how to speak right Italian to get what you want from the market!
What Can You Find in a Farmer’s Market in Italy?
Most farmers’ markets sell seasonal produce, including fish, meat, and, of course, locally produced vegetables and fruit. You may also find markets selling homeware and clothing. Besides the weekly farmers’ markets, though, Italians also visit the monthly markets, which provide a wider range of goods on offer. These tend to sell (depends on the type of market):
- Crafted homeware pieces
- Crafted clothing pieces
- Particular regional specialities (i.e., IGP- or DOP-certified wines, cheeses, and extra-virgin oils).
- Refined regional specialities
Basic Italian Vocabulary to Communicate with Vendors
Before hitting the nearest local farmers’ market, you can exercise your Italian by practicing some basic phrases. Don’t forget to make a shopping list first and then translate it into Italian to make the process even easier for you.
- Excuse me – Mi scusi
- How much is it? – Quanto costa?
- Where can I buy…? – Dove posso compare….?
- Do you have…? – Avete…?
- I would like to buy… – Vorrei compare…
- Please – Per favore
- More – Di piu
- Less – Di meno
- That’s all, thank you! – Basta cosi grazie!
How to Behave in an Italian Farmers’ Market
If you want to act like a local, you need to think like a local. The best way to achieve that is by watching how the locals navigate the different stalls and go about their morning rituals. You will notice them looking around first to identify the vendors that sell the products they need, be it cheese, fruits, veggies, or another. Then, they may shop around and see who is offering the best items at the best price. Feel free to engage with them and speak with the vendors if you wish.
And, do not shy away from tasting the food! You will soon find out that this is a common practice among the Italians that visit the farmers’ markets. For that reason, most stalls feature a bench with samples of their products. However, please do note that it is NOT okay to touch the produce without getting permission from the farmer that sells it.
What Italian vendors also NOT like or appreciate is an effort to bargain prices. The products on offer at farmers’ markets are already discounted enough, so there is no need to go through a price negotiation process with them – it may insult them.
Finally, always ensure you ask who the last person in line is, even if there is no waiting line. This is considered polite and is much liked by the Italian vendors. So, ask “chi è l’ultimo?” and see the faces of vendors light up!
Local Delicacies to Try in a Farmers’ Market in Italy
While navigating the local farmers’ market, chances are you will feel hungry at some point. No wonder, given that most markets run from very early in the morning and last till well after mid-day. And, you will probably need all these hours to go through every stall and see what is on offer. For those “difficult” hours, your best option is to get some delicious Italian street food from the many food stalls located throughout the market. You will find all the authentic Italian tastes in delicacies such as:
- Baccala fritto
These foods are primarily sold in the Florence, Livorno, Versilia, and Umbria farmers’ markets, though such yummy foods are usually offered in many other farmers’ markets as well. As for those into seafood, there are plenty of fishmongers selling fried dishes with fresh seafood. Up for a rejuvenating punch of vitamins? One of the greengrocers in the market you are visiting at that time will be more than happy to give you a glass of freshly pressed juice (or more)!
Don’t Leave Without Treating Yourself to a Panino!
We are talking about the best panini you have ever tasted! They are prepared using fresh bread and supreme quality cold cuts and regional cheese and are sold in most stalls that offer cured meats and cheese products. You can ask for:
- Torta al Testo (bread filled with cheese and salami) – mostly sold in Umbria.
- Cinque e Cinque (traditionally cooked panino in a clay oven made from chickpeas) – typically found in Livorno and Pisa farmers’ markets.
- Roasted cotenna (pork rind)
- Panino con la porchetta (roast pork)
A List of the Best Tuscany Farmers’ Markets
Below is a list of the farmers’ markets that take place in the various Tuscany provinces.
- Sant’ Ambrogio Market – It sells fresh products and is both an outdoor and indoor market in the Florence historical centre. Open Mon-Sat (7am-2pm).
- Cascine Market – Sells shoes, clothing, homeware, and fresh produce at the cheapest prices. Open Tuesdays from 7am-2pm.
- Fierucola Market – It promotes organic products and takes place in Oltramo. Open every 3rd Sunday of each month from 9am-7pm.
- Greve in Chianti – A weekly farmers’ market that sells seasonal produce, shoes, clothes, and homeware. Open Sat (8:30am-1pm).
- Il Pagliaio Market – You will find local crafters, artisans, and producers selling from organic veggies and fruit to honey, bread, jam, wine, extra-virgin olive oil, and more. Open every 4th Sunday of each month from 9am-2pm.
- Weekly Panzano Market – It sells seasonal products, as well as shoes, clothing, and homeware. Open every Sunday from 8:30am-1pm.
- Aprilante Market – Open on the first Sunday of each month from 9am-3pm, it features over 100 stalls selling traditional antiques, crafts, arts, produce, and food.
- Weekly Strada Market – Open from 8:30am-1pm every Tuesday, it offers local products, clothes, and more.
- Weekly Arezzo Market – An open-air farmers’ market that sells seasonal produce, shoes, clothes, and homeware. Open Sat (8:30am-1pm).
- Weekly Cortona Market – It is an open-air market that provides local products, shoes, homeware, and clothing every Saturday from 8:30am-1pm.
- Iil Mercatale di Sansepolcro – Open every 3rd Saturday of each month from 9am-4pm, it sells seasonal Arezzo products (i.e., cold cuts, cheese, extra-virgin oils, veggies, fruit, legumes, and more).
- Nuovo Mercato di Piazza delle Vettovaglie – Open from Mon-Sat (8:30am-4pm), this open-air market sells local products, clothing, and homeware.
- Mercato di Via Alberto Paparelli – The same as the previous market with the only exception that it is open every Wednesday and Saturday from 8:30am-1pm.
- Mercato di Via San Martino – The same as the Mercato di Via Alberto Paparelli market.
- La Lizza – Same as above. Open every Wednesday from 8:30am-1pm.
- Weekly Pienza Market – Same as La Lizza market.
- Weekly San Gimignano Market – Same as La Lizza market. Open every Thursday from 8:30am-1pm.
- Weekly Montalcino Market– Same as La Liza market. Open on Fridays, though (same hours as La Lizza market).
- Weekly Montepulciano Market – Same as La Lizza. Open every Thursday from 8:30am-1pm.
- Il Mercatale – This is a farm-to-table market that offers a wealth of regional delicacies (see truffles and herbs), seasonal veggies and fruit, as well as meat, cheese, wine, and olive oil. Open every 2nd Sunday of each month from 9:30am-7pm.
- Vettovaglie Market – Hosted in Livorno, this indoor farmers’ market is one of the oldest in Europe and one of the biggest in Italy. It offers street food, drinks, cheese, fish, and meat, along with seasonal vegetables and fruit. Open from Mon-Sat (8am-2pm).
- Weekly Forte dei Marmi – An open-air market that sells shoes, clothes, hardware, and fresh products. Open every Wednesday from 8am-2pm.
- Weekly Pietrasanta Market – Same as Weekly Forte dei Marmi Market. Open every Thursday, though.
- Weekly Viareggio Market – Same as Weekly Pietrasanta Market.
- Weekly Grosseto Market – Same as Weekly Pietrasanta Market.
- Weekly Livorno Market – An open-air farmers’ market selling exclusively vegetables and fruit. Open From Mon-Sat (8am-1pm).
- Weekly Castiglione della Pescaia Market – Open every Saturday from 8:30am-1pm, this open-air market sells clothing, homeware, seafood, fish, and, of course, seasonal veggies and fruit.
- Weekly Porto Ercole Market – Like weekly Castiglione della Pescaia market, it, too, sells clothing and homeware, alongside fresh fish, vegetables, and fruit. Open every Monday from 8:30am-1pm.
- Weekly Porto Santo Stefano Market – Same as the weekly Porto Ercole Market. Open every Tuesday, though.
- Weekly Orbetello Market – Same as the weekly Porto Santo Stefano Market. Open every Saturday.
Now that you know all about the Tuscany farmers’ markets and how to navigate them like a local, time to choose a luxury Tuscany villa with close proximity to the markets you are interested in visiting during your next Tuscany holidays!