Italians love a good market. From fresh food to artwork and even fashion items, markets offer a great way to truly shop like a local.
And hey, if you have to buy a few Florentine leather handbags along the way, so be it!
The best and most famous markets in Florence are the Mercato Centrale for food items, and for lether goods the Mercato San Lorenzo (around the San Lorenzo church) and Mercato Nuovo.
Mercato Nuovo translates to ‘New Market’, a name it bears despite being several hundred years old. It became so known centuries ago so as to distinguish it from another that existed once upon a time in the nearby Piazza Repubblica.
The Mercato Nuovo is also known as Il Porcellino – the little pig.
The reason behind this is that just by the market is a statue. Not of a pig however, but a boar.
The statue is a copy of a bronze cast made by Pietro Tacca (1577-1640) that dates back to 1634, which in turn was a copy of an Ancient Roman marble version (that is now in the Florence’s Uffizi Gallery) that itself was a copy of an Ancient Greece version that has likely been lost.
Tacca’s own original used to be by the market, although now resides in the Museo Bardini.
Rubbing the snout of the Porcellino is said to ensure you will come back to Florence, just as tossing a coin into the Trevi Fountain is said to mean you will return to Rome.
For good luck rather, place a coin into the mouth of the boar, which then slides out and falls through a grate below. This tradition dates back at least to the 1700s, and explains the shiny smooth-polish of the Porcellino’s nose.
Tour Florence’s best food market with us to meet lots of foodie locals on our small-group Italian food tour in Florence