Western riviera, Genoa
Each Friday, for over 50 decades, traders and bargain hunters have flooded into Ventimiglia at dawn, creating chaotic traffic jams for the Carabinieri to sort out. Shoppers flood down from normally quiet parking areas along the side of the river and are accosted almost at once with informal stands of cheap Taiwanese toys laid on blankets on the pavements. The market is vast: it stretches almost all the way along the shore, the center of town is cordoned off and the quiet park is filled with covered stalls. But, big as it is, there’s a lot of repetition, stalls with identical stock at identical prices are dotted throughout. Clothing makes up the bulk of what’s on offer; cheap and cheerful linen, silk and cashmere ladies wear, and low-cost underwear (although there’s nowhere convenient to try it on). The highlight is the range of leather handbags, travel bags and shoes, and the more expensive the item, the greater the chance of haggling a better price. The Italian Riviera is famed for it’s flowers, and here you can buy the real thing, or magnificent silk replicas. It’s also worth trying the superb fresh pasta available here.