Markets are both an Italian institution and tradition – Paradiso Ceramics Australia | Handmade in Italy


Markets are both an Italian institution and tradition

Italian markets are often set up in a town's piazza

The mercati are traditional neighborhood street markets that take place in most Italian municipalities and are often as ancient as the cities themselves.

Small towns tend to have a weekly mercato selling fresh produce and an assortment of other products.

We love exploring markets when we are in Italy.

Marg at a fresh produce market in Santa Maria degli Angeli

Mercati are usually well stocked with underwear, clothes and shoes, tablecloths, fresh fruit and vegetables ...

Fresh fruit and vegetables at an Italian market

impressive plaited garlic and onions ...

Plaited garlic and onions at an Italian market

hard and soft cheeses ...

An array of cheeses at an Italian market

vibrant flowers, nuts and sweet treats.

Marg & Win check out a nut stall at Assisi St Francis market
We would often stagger home with bags bulging with prosciutto, cheese, garlic and vine-ripened tomatoes ...
Vine ripened tomatoes

and maybe a pot of basil and a cyclamen if we were staying at the Assisi house for a few weeks.

Local products at an Italian market

Besides budgies and rabbits, pet stalls might sell surprising livestock like baby squirrels and tiny turtles.

At one mercato we spotted a stall selling fish. Ah, fresh fish for dinner – only to find all the fish was dried. Hmm, we weren't game to try it.

Lumps of raw meat and a range of suspicious-looking animal products hung from hooks at another stall. Hairy boar heads peered down at us, their tusks draped with sausages.

Hairy boar heads with sausages hanging from their tusks

A must is to find a van selling porchetta panini – crusty bread rolls filled with succulent, heavily seasoned and roasted pork, sliced while you watch from a whole roasted pig laid out on a slab. It is delicious!

Porchetta panini - roasted pork sandwiches - are a delicious Italian treat
Slices of porchetta are carved from a whole roasted pig.

A friend wanted to buy a pair of jeans and she asked the vendor if she could try them on. He pointed to the back of his truck. A cloth strung across the back of the van provided some privacy.

Trying on some jeans at a local market in the back of the vendor's van.

Whether it’s a small collection of vendors gathered in a piazza, or a large street market linked to a town’s medieval festival, each mercato is an experience of local life and culinary delights. Every trip to Italy should include visiting at least one.

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