The building was built some time between 1870 and 1874 by architect Giuseppe Mengoni and it is thought that it was built in part to provide an alternative for those who had shopped in the area around Piazza della Repubblica (we will visit this site another day) which at that time in history hosted the City of Florence's major vegetable market. According to history, the area around the Piazza della Repubblica was undergoing a renewal during these years.
It is Europe's largest covered food hall and is a most wonderful stone, iron and glass building. Mengoni is alsoresponsible for Milan's celebrated covered shopping galleries.
It is difficult to appreciate the design of the Mercato though, one can imagine that in its day it probably was quite a site. The building's footprint is quite large and covers at least two blocks. The Mercato offers a huge variety of fresh items: produce of many kinds (from throughout Italy), fresh fruit, flowers, cheese of every imaginable variety, meats (including stewed boar, cow stomach and intestines), fish and seafood, poultry, pastas, dried fruits, porcini, spices, breads, pastries, dry goods, wines and truffles. There are also stands inside where you can have the vendor make you a sandwich and you can sit down at a little table and enjoy the atmosphere. It reminds me of a closed version of the Farmer's Market in the Fairfax District of Los Angeles, California.
My Uncle informed me during my visit that Italians prefer "FRESH" produce and fruit and do not as a rule purchase anything but. He also said that Italians also prefer "organic" produce and fruit and "cage free" or "free range" eggs. I must say that I too prefer the same here in Virginia but, often have problems finding some items. The range of produce and fruit is absolutely unreal in Italy and I already miss that.
Along the street located at the front entrance of the Mercato are stands that sell scarves, purses, souvenirs, leather goods, jewelry, ties and such to tourists and locals.
Here's a shot of the inside of the building looking up at the ceiling. It was kind of chilly inside the Mercato, glad I had a jacket on.
I thought we'd start our trip through the mercato with the flowers. Thursdays are the main day for flower sellers (unfortunately I was unable to make it back as I was out of town on a day trip) but, I did manage to snap some photosgraphs the day I visited the Mercato. Aren't these just beautiful?
Hope you enjoyed Part 1 of our visit to San Lorenzo Mercato Centrale in Florence, Italy.
Be sure to stop by next week as we continue our visit at the Mercato Centrale. I can't wait to show you the meat and poultry stalls.
Please check out My World Tuesday. There's a great group of people from all over the world posting weekly, great photographs from near and far. It's one of my favorites.