February 1, 2009

A Minute at the Market- Castelfiorentino

One of my favorite moments of the living in Italy is shopping at the weekly market. Now that we live full time in the countryside outside of Florence, I miss the Central Market. We do go to the local COOP grocery store for basics and to the village shops for fresh goods. I am lucky as my village of Certaldo has 2 market days, Saturday is the small market in the Piazza and Wednesday is the larger one that takes over several city blocks on the outskirts of town.

As part of my Florence cooking classes, the market tour and shopping took longer and longer as we were having so much fun. Speaking the language and eavesdropping has been a way to learn Italian better and also collecting new recipes. Everyday is a new lesson in Italian life and better than going to the movies.

Besides getting fabulous food, meeting artisans and saving money by buying directly instead of at the supermarkets or smaller mom and pop shops, I adore watching professionals work.

This Saturday we went to the nearby Castelfiorentino market, which is quite large. This video is of one of my favorite stands for cheese. The market is divided into two section, one with food and plants, often even live chickens and rabbits. We live in a truly rural area where people continue the tradition of raising their own food, both my maintaining gardens and barnyard animals.

Paolo Paolini, my cheesemaster at the market.

These stands are actually small trucks and they travel, so where ever you go, it is market day somewhere nearby!

Stand after stand of vendors with everything from roasted chickens to candy and freshly ground coffee. Farms with their tables filled with the fruits and vegetables of the season.

Greenhouses, selling seeds and plants.

Kitchen supply stores: pots, pans, spoons,knives and cutting boards.

The other side of the market is like a travelling department store. Not only stand after stand of clothes, but also yardage for clothing and drapes. Carpets and BBQ grills.

What's not to love?

We went to Castelfiorentino this week as there was also an opening of a new museum with the work of Benozzo Gozzoli

The museum contains two of his chapel pieces which were restored and remounted inside.
It is fascinating to see both the fresco's and the sinopia, which are the sepia colored sketches under the fresco which the artist painted on.

Pairing a market day with museums or sites to see is one of the pleasures living in Tuscany.
I hope you can join me on one of my market day tours in Florence... or Chianti.
Stop by my site for more info on my one day, three day and one week custom programs.


  1. I just adored that video of the man cutting up the cheese. Made me homesick for Italy and the markets all over the place with great produce/cheeses, etc.
    lucky you to live there.

  2. Oh why do I read blogs from Italy!!!! I miss it so much..very good post. I love the markets over in Europe fullstop, they are amazing.

  3. I love the Italian and French markets, oh how I miss them.

    Great video of the cheese man :-)

  4. Thanks for posting this! As only a one-time visitor to Florence, I am not as familiar with the markets as some, but I certainly miss them! While reading this post, I felt like I was back in Florence. : )
    I am excited to discover this blog! Two of my interests are covered: Italy and cuisine! I will have to give some of your receipes a try...

  5. We made it back to Virginia with our Italian treasures intact - the olive oil, the balsamic vinegar, the vin santo, and of course the Parmigiano - our favorite. I've put a small piece of the rind in my Tuscan farro soup (oh yes, always bring that back too!) for dinner tonight.
    Thanks for the memories, Diva!

  6. That's my hometown! Today raising food is more an hobby and a passion. I remember it was different 30 years ago when I was young and my grandpa was alive but things started changing during the middle of '70s.

  7. Sedaca- how lucky you are! funny now there are tons of maroccans in castello and even a butcher for them!

    Market day is still a blast there!
    See you in Seattle- when did you move?