Top destination in the centre, Mercato Centrale!
In the first half of 2014 something exciting happened on the food heaven in Florence. A new very good bistro, several restaurants and a food shopping market opened in Florence. The range of interesting places for us foodies are getting better and better. Most recently the doors to the upper floor on Florence’s main food market Mercato Centrale opened.
One of the most successful initiatives around food in Florence is the new Mercato Centrale, the central market. Florence’s main food market is located next to Santa Maria Novella Station.
Like many other traditional Florentine venues, the market has had a hard time when more and more Florentines choose to move to the greener fringes of the city. Earlier, I got the feeling of being in a food-zoo every time I went there. It seemed that no one was buying anything. Only tourists who gawked and photographed the food and the people who stood behind the counter.
There has been much hullabaloo about the area around the food market. Florence’s former mayor Matteo Renzi, now Prime Minister of Italy, wanted to clean and tidy up around the market and the beautiful Roman church of San Lorenzo. To all street-merchants annoyance. The discussion is still ongoing.
New, but with a taste of tradition
But … a few weeks ago they opened the new upper level at Mercato Centrale. Downstairs there is the usual market with meat, fish, fruit and vegetable stalls.
The upper floor is like a large living room where you have collected the best of everything that Tuscany has to offer. A bakery, fish restaurant, cheese and a bottega (wine shop) with Chianti Classico wines. Ice cream, meat and the typical Florentine fast food lampredotto (tripe) are also to be found here. Not to forget the pizza chef who makes one of Florence’s best pizzas. And much more!
In the middle of the room is a bar where you can order drinks. Then you are free to sit at one of the many tables that are around the centrally located bar. You choose what you want to eat and then you sit where you want. Very good, especially if you are a group of friends or family who are hungry but who want different things. The people coming here are of all kinds. Just as in traditional Italy where you actually socialize with people from other generations than your own.
The venue is stunningly beautiful. The building itself dates from the late 1800s. With large iron beams and huge skylights where sunlight trickles through. Not without reason this is where Kenzo’s fashion show took place a few years ago. The new decor is modern. But they have made use of traditional Tuscan materials such as terracotta and stone for flooring, furniture and lamps.
Learn to cook like a real Mama!
In one corner of the room there is a new cooking school called Cucina Lorenzo de ‘Medici. The courses are held in a room with glass walls towards the “living room” on the upper level. The kitchens are super modern. The courses are aimed at all levels. Great ingredients there are certainly plenty of. The courses are led by some of Tuscany’s best-known chefs, such as Stefano Pinciaroli (from PS Ristorante di Cerreto Guidi), Aldo Ventre (from restaurant Pane & Olio), Gennaro Napolitano, Domenico Di Clemente (executive pastry chef at the Four Seasons Hotel), Giovanna Iorio and Maria Teresa Brancaccio (Alle Murate restaurant).
So if you are a foodie you will not be disappointed in Florence!
Mercato Centrale Firenze
Piazza del Mercato Centrale – Via dell’Ariento, 50123 Firenze, +39 0552399798, www.mercatocentrale.it
Open every day between 10.00-24.00
Cooking school Cucina Lorenzo de’ Medici at San Lorenzo: www.cucinaldm.com
Florence is the perfect starting point for a wine and culinary tour through the Tuscan hills. If you want immerse yourself in Tuscan food and get to know the Chianti wines, then come on a wine and food tour to Tuscany with BKWine.
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