Tuscan cooking is made at home but it starts in grocery shops, local vegetable gardens and among market stalls. For every generation, the market is the beating heart of the town, humming with chitchat, friendly shouting and bargaining, and the aroma of roast chicken, croquettes and porchetta.
Travelling through Tuscany you can recognize three different kind of markets.
There are indoor markets, such as San Lorenzo and Sant’Ambrogio in Florence and Mercato Centrale in Livorno: traditional, historical, and big, they are the beating heart of a town or a city. They usually run every day and are often architecturally interesting.
In almost every town, even in the smallest and most remote village, there are weekly outdoor markets. Once a week the town, or a city’s neighborhood, fills up with stalls full of everything, from clothes to shoes, from pots and pans to flowers. The food part is always the most exciting selling cheese, fish, fruit and vegetables.
Some are extremely old, like the market in Castelnuovo in Garfagnana, where a market has been running every Thursday morning since 1430. Then there are the organic markets of local producers. This is the newest form of market and they are usually held on the weekend or on a week day. Here you can shop for organic fruit and vegetables, local cheese and cold cuts, flour, bread, honey and meat.
In Florence, the Fierucola in piazza Santissima Annunziata and the market in Santo Spirito are two very enjoyable shopping spots and they occur one Sunday a month. In Siena, the farmers’ market is held every Friday morning, close to the city centre.