You might want to find more to add to your Tuscany to-do list if the only thing on your list so far is to recreate a selfie of you magically propping up the Leaning Tower of Pisa with your finger. You can do that, too, but consider stepping outside of your comfort zone and try something different. Hey! Let your palate be your guide. How? Experience authentic Tuscany by visiting its vibrant and charming local markets.
You may already know that food markets are perfect for sampling the local cuisine. It’s an essential part of any travel experience, and in this case, it’s an easy way to immerse yourself in Tuscan culture. Explore this region’s array of salamis, cheeses and delicious porchetta (roasted pork) sandwiches heavily salted and stuffed with garlic, rosemary and other herbs. Sounds yummy, right?!
And in addition to the tasty food, these bustling markets are also the ideal place to soak up the atmosphere and literally rub shoulders with the locals. Our list is perfect if you’re looking for a day trip outside of Pisa or Florence, or if you want to make a road trip out of it. If so…buckle up, hit the road and immerse yourself in local tradition at these iconic markets.
Vettovaglie Market, Livorno
Of all the markets in Tuscany, this is the one you should make sure is at the top of your list. Why? Because it’s one of the largest indoor markets in Europe and one of the most popular among foodies. Set inside a stunning 19th-century neoclassical building near one of the Medici canals, this market has more than 200 stalls – arranged in rows and pavilions – that sell vegetables, fruit, meat, coffee and bread, but it's the fish market that attracts the most attention. It’s located 16 miles (40 minutes by car) south of Pisa and is Tuscany’s most important port city – hence the fantastic fish! Your visit to this market won’t be complete until you try the local dish of cacciucco (seafood stew). Trust us, it’s delish!
... it's [Vettovaglie Market] one of the largest indoor markets in Europe and one of the most popular among foodies.
Piazza delle Vettovaglie, Pisa
This is where the local farmers, cheese-makers and artisans come to sell their produce every day. In between the maze of fruit and vegetable stalls, there are many other culinary delights like fresh pasta stores, bakeries and wine shops scattered all around. Located just off Via Borgo Stretto, the atmospheric square is surrounded by medieval houses, bustling cafes and popular bars. Pisa is 52 miles (an hour by car) from Florence.
Piazza San Guisto, Lucca
If you’re planning a trip to Lucca, you cannot miss visiting Piazza San Guisto on the third weekend of every month. This is when a huge antique market pops up with around 220 exhibitors selling vintage furniture, books, paintings, jewelry, ceramics, lace and war artifacts. The piazza is famous for its beautiful 12th-century church, but wander further to discover many other attractions, including the city's original tree-lined walls. This is a perfect destination to explore on foot or by bike. Lucca is around 12 miles (20 minutes by car) north of Pisa.
Mercato Nuovo, Florence
And last, but not least, San Lorenzo may be the Florence’s best known market. This one — also known as the Straw Market or Il Porcellino (little pig) — is worth a visit, not only for its leather goods and knick-knacks, but also for its history. Dating back to the 11th century and once a silver and gold market, it's best known for the 'Fontana del Porcellino', a small fountain with a statue of a wild boar. Legend has it that whoever places a coin in the mouth of the boar and rubs his snout, will be blessed with good luck and guaranteed to return to Florence. You’ll want as much luck as you can get because this fab city also has historic attractions like the Piazza del Duomo, Palazzo Vecchio and the Galleria dell’Accadema, a Renaissance art museum and home to Michelangelo’s sculptures including David. SO worth another trip!
Held on the first weekend of every month, Tuscany's most famous antique market regularly attracts around 30,000 visitors. You won’t believe until you experience it for yourself, but hundreds of vendors sell a wide range of artifacts, including furniture, paintings, books, jewelry, watches and silverware. First established in 1968, this gargantuan market sprawls over the Piazza San Francesco, Piazza Grande and the Logge del Vasari. Rich in art and architecture, the city is only 48 miles (an hour by car) southeast of Florence.