best pizza at the Florence Central Market

Mangia: Eating at the Florence Central Market!

by Guest on February 5, 2015

Guest post ~ Florence is well known for its museums and historical attractions like Michelangelo’s David. But amid the vibrant streets near the Duomo stands a building which no visitor should miss. It hosts a real temple of food: the Mercato Centrale (Central Market). Eating at the Florence Central Market is something no visitor should pass up.

Central Market Building

The circa 1874 Central Market building, with its ornate cast iron and glass architecture, is an attraction itself, but many people don’t look beyond all the culinary delights to notice it. Amid all the hustle and bustle the entrances are hard to find, just look behind the peddlers.

florence mercato centrale

The Market

The food market is at the ground floor. Here you’ll find the largest possible variety of food in Florence. One section is dedicated to fruit and vegetables, with some typical products you can find only here. During winter, the king of vegetables in Florence is the cavolo nero (black cabbage), master ingredient for the ribollita, the most famous Florentine recipe: it’s a soup based on stale bread, cannellini beans and, of course, black cabbage. (See link to ribollita recipe below.)

eating at the florence central market

You’ll be amazed at the garlands made of garlic and onion: here it’s not just a matter of quality, the presentation of the food is very important. There is also a shop dedicated to exotic fruit and vegetables, especially from South America.

Garlands of garlic and onion (750x565)

Another section is for fish shops and butchers, the latter each specialize in a particular kind of meat: chicken for example, or beef, with the Chianina (a type of cattle typical of Tuscany) which is the meat used for the famous bistecca alla fiorentina. If you’re wondering what all that white spongy meat on display is, it’s tripe (the stomach of the cow). It’s an acquired taste for foreigners but Italians love it.

salumi and cheese florence mercato centrale

Among the other specialty foods at the central market are sundried tomatoes, mushrooms and pasta in fantastical shapes. There is a fresh pasta shop and several bakeries, but the shops that attract more attention are the ones selling salumi (not to confuse with salami, which is just a kind of salumi) and cheese. Some of them also make panini.

salumi (750x537)

Prices are very reasonable, in some cases you save on supermarket prices, unless you want to buy something very hard to find elsewhere. For a traveler in Florence who plans an excursion or a picnic, or just wants to prepare a quick lunch, this is the place to find something tasty.

The temple of food on the second floor

After a complete restoration in April 2014, the second floor, which once hosted the fruit and vegetables section, was reopened with a new function: a temple of dining. This part of the Central Market, which stays open from 10 am to midnight, including Sundays, is an amazing place where you can eat any kind of typical Italian food. It’s a huge hall, with cafés in the center serving drinks, tables all around and specialized restaurants on the sides.

eating at florence central market food hall
How does it work? You just pick your preferred food (cheese, meat, pasta, pizza, fish and many more), go to the chosen restaurant, order, and they will prepare your food in front of you. Then join your friends at the table of your choice. It’s perfect for a group, where everybody wants to eat something different. Prices are very reasonable, while quality is excellent: in particular, I like pizza at the Central Market.

wood bruinng pizza florence central market

Pizza is not a typical Tuscan recipe, and I have to admit that, in general, you won’t eat the best pizza in Florence, but at the Central Market you will actually taste a great pizza, made with natural yeast, the best flours and high quality tomatoes and mozzarella.

dry porcini mushrooms

Florence Central Market Visitor Information:

The ground floor of the market is open Monday-Friday from 7:00 AM to 2:00 PM and Saturday (not in the Summer months) from 7:00 AM to 5:00 PM. The second floor is open everyday from 10:00 AM to 12:00 AM.
Check out the Florence Central Market website for the latest information on activities there.

If you’re in the mood for some Italian food now, here’s a recipe for ribollita, also known as peasant stew it’s the perfect antidote to a cold winter day.

2015 1 21 Florence andrea pic (300x300)Guest writer Andrea Pecchi is a freelance tourist guide in Florence and runs Your Florence Contact, a blog about art and history. When not guiding tourists, he enjoys writing about his own city and promoting Florence as a destination for travelers. You can follow Andrea on Facebook and Twitter.

Christine February 5, 2015 at 6:49 pm

I love visiting markets when I travel to different cities–it gives such insight on the local people. I haven’t spent much time in Florence, but must check this out on my next visit!

Michael February 5, 2015 at 7:43 pm

One of the first things we do in a new city is visit a food market to see what’s popular with the locals. We pick up a lot of new treats that way.

Cat of Sunshine and Siestas February 16, 2015 at 6:50 am

Florence’s market is certainly something, and we munched our way thru! Found a wealth of great little trattorias nearby, too!

Wandering Educators February 16, 2015 at 12:44 pm

OH YuM!! I love that people can choose their own food – it would make eating SO much easier.

noel February 16, 2015 at 1:19 pm

Italian markets are always so beautiful and photogenic, I love to just explore and photograph everything I see. The problem is that I never want to leave because I also want to take a million pictures of the food I just bought from the vendors 🙂

Penny February 20, 2015 at 11:51 pm

Well … I know where I’m going when I visit Florence … thanks!

Lillie February 22, 2015 at 10:49 am

YUM! Now that’s my kind of place!

Mary @ Green Global Travel February 22, 2015 at 8:50 pm

We love local markets. Thanks for sharing this food gem.

Previous post:

Next post: