Florence, Italy: Sant'Ambrogio Market- Where the Locals Shop!
Inside the Market (Florentine Giglio on the Floor)
For lovers of 15th c Florence, the Medici, and intrigue
Entrance to the Market
Specialty Butcher Shops
Specialty Seafood (Black Risotto made with Sepia Ink)
Church of Sant'Ambrogio
The Other Food Market.
People usually go to Mercato Centrale when they visit Florence because it is internationally famous and full of amazing food products. Very few take the time to visit the city's other food market, which is Mercato Sant'Ambrogio, near the Sant'Ambrogio church.
Mercato Sant'Ambrogio is smaller, but what it has to offer is top-notch. I like to think of it as more of a "boutique" food market offering things that you don't get elsewhere. For example, most of the butchers offer specialties like elegant stuffed roasts that are ready to be put in the oven. These meats come beautifully prepared and tied, decorated with sage or rosemary leaves and stuffed with things like cheese, ham, spices, etc.
I have bought these specialty roasts before and not only are they so easy to prepare (literally just pop it in the oven), but they look so nice when sliced and taste great. What a wonderful way to impress guests for dinner if you don't have a lot of time to prepare! Also, a roast like that will add some pizzazz to a midweek dinner and we all need that once in a while (don't forget a good bottle of wine, too).
The seafood area also offers fresh and frozen delights like risotto nero (black risotto), made with sepia ink (cuttlefish). Try making THAT at home. As much as I adore cooking and making everything from scratch, sometimes it's just easier to have someone else go through the trouble!
Outside you will find fresh fruits and vegetables being sold. Don't buy anything at first- do what the Italian mamma would do and compare prices. While we all have our favorite vendors, it never hurts to comparison shop.
You will also see lots of clothing for sale- some new, some old. I have found designer items, slightly used, for only 2 euro! Seriously, take a few minutes to walk around because it could be worth it. Remember, with clothing it's hit or miss.
If you are visiting Florence, you could first go to the Piazza Sant'Ambrogio in the morning and have a coffee at the trendy Caffe Sant'Ambrogio. Next, go inside the church for a quick visit before heading off to the market. After the market (around lunch time) you can grab a panino at the famous Lampredotto stand beside the church. Don't worry, if you don't want to try lampredotto (4th stomach of the cow, considered to be a delicacy), you can have bolito (tender, savory brisket).
As you enjoy your tasty panino with the other locals who will be munching away beside you, be sure to take note of the beautiful aquamarine dome of the Jewish synagogue in the distance. As always, thank you for reading!
C. De Melo
Author & Artist