The Mercato Centrale deals only with foodstuffs and closes around 2pm. The clothes/scarves/leather goods in the surrounding streets are the San Lorenzo market (see tip below).
It's a lovely place to wander, with as much cheese, meat, salami, pasta, spices and fish as you heart might desire. But be warned...it has changed substantially in the 5 years since I first visited. It is very obvious that the prime target is the visitor rather than the local; you can get your meats and cheese vacuum-packed, you can buy pre-packed pastas and sundried tomatoes and spices etc etc.
And prices reflect this change. Whilst it's still a good and economical place to buy fresh foods (veg, meat, fish) don't expect to find bargains in dried or vacuum-packed foods...you won't.
Better to try the Sant'Ambroglio market (see tip below), used much more by locals, if you want bargains.
There are clean toilets (60 cents) available in the market building.
The Mercato Centrale is a wonderland of food. There are vendors of every kind of edible you can imagine.
If you are heading home this is a good place to pick up a last minute gift or souvenir. Sealed food items are an easy way to remember your trip and they can pass through customs easily. I wish I could get one of those Parma Hams home somehow.
From fresh pasta and sauces to horse meat this is quite a place. We often stop here to get the makings of a picnic.
During the day, the piazza and streets that border the church of San Lorenzo become completely filled with market stalls. While many specialize in souvenirs, others sell leather articles, clothes, olive oil, vinegar, etc. At the heart of this market lies the Mercato Centrale, a huge food market dating back to 1874 that is still very popular with both tourists and locals. This is the place to go if you want to buy any kind of Tuscan specialty, be it cheese, ham, fresh pasta, herbs, wine, pastries... anything you can think of and more! I actually thought it was one of the best places in Florence to go souvenir shopping as there were many items that made for perfect gifts to give people back home a little taste of Tuscany!
The central food market in Florence is certainly a photographer's dream. Colors abound from every corner and the displays are captivating. You can also purchase items fairly cheaply for that snack later in the day. Also get whole truffles (white or black depending on the season) and have them vacuum packed for the trip home!
This place is a busy open air market where you can find lots of stuff at keen prices. A good place to sample some Tuscan cuisine as well. People said its here that you can find some of the best local food ...but for me ..I cant resist all teh Italian ice creams ...its like a must have when you walk around Florence...slurp slurp !
It opens every morning from 7.00 to 14.00, except for Sunday and public holidays. In winter it is open only on Saturdays and days before holidays.
If you like markets, this is a beautiful, appetising, and great market to wander around in. Don't go if you are too hungry though... Downstairs are many stalls with meat and cheese, upstairs, lucious and delicious looking stalls piled with different fruits and vegetables.
The Mercato Nuovo seems split into two sections: the more hodge-podge vendors of clothing, etc. outside the market building, and the more permanent food-sellers inside. Be sure to go inside, as it is a very special place.
I really wish I had more gumption, otherwise I would have taken photos galore here! However, I was feeling a bit shy and even on a sensory overload here. The market is really a huge, lively place full of good people watching opportunities and beautiful stands of produce, meats, spices, breads...it's wonderful. If you are into taking photos of people and local customs, this is a fabulous place to spend the afternoon.
This, the largest covered market in Europe, is the place to go if you need the ingredient to make a fantastic meal. Everything is fresh. I stopped in a couple times for some fruits or just to grand a strong cup of espresso at a stand before heading out for a day of exploring.
Not only for seeing the Hall where a lot of people buy or sell food (cheese, wine, veg yumm) but also for buying outside what ever you want to (cloths, bags, shoes) for formidabile prices. But think: not every Gucci is a real one !