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Visiting Mercato Centrale (Florence)

Italy’s Tuscan Capital

Food is an integral part of everything that is Italian. It’s little wonder that the concept of Italian food has spread so widely across the globe as it is fresh, flavoursome, simple and focuses largely on seasonal and local ingredients. You really can’t go wrong and many of us are indeed creating our own Italian dishes on a regular basis at home. Cooking classes in Italy have also become a very popular option for visitors holidaying in the country, as people want to perfect their skills and learn from the experts.

There are many options for cookery classes in Italy, but if you choose one in Tuscany that includes a visit to Florence’s Mercato Centrale, you’re in for a special treat. A walk around this hub of local activity is an experience in itself and here’s why…

Mercato San Lorenzo - Mercato Centrale

It is widely recognised that the markets of Italy are among the most vibrant in the world. It really is hard not to become captivated by the smells, sights and sounds that batter you from every angle as you enter. Gesticulating locals banter with each other as ingredients fly off the shelves into the baskets of everyone shopping here.

Although you can get a really good feel for this place when travelling solo, coming with a guide on one of the cookery tours offers you a whole different perspective. Your guide will offer you a wonderful insight into the buying and cooking culture of the locals and you will clearly witness how this is ingrained in all aspects of Florentine life.

The market itself is divided into two parts, and the bit we are interested in is indoors. Filled with produce from all over Tuscany, you can easily spend a couple of hours taking it all in. It is the perfect place in which to shop for ingredients for all the creations you are going to make on your course.


The market dates back to 1870 and is a dominant feature of Florence. The wrought iron and glass ceiling is very distinctive, as are the loggias and arches. Architecturally typical of its time, inside the space is huge and the shops are organised along four sides of the square.

After a minor decline in popularity that occurred simultaneously with the increase in supermarkets, the market was given a facelift and the owners who took over in 2014 set up an artisan take away food section on the top floor. This drew people back and the market thrived once more.

Mercato Centrale Today

Definitely a highlight of any of the cookery classes in Italy’s Tuscan capital, a trip to this market is always an experience. The energy, the vibe and the general ambience is so reflective of Italian culture and, with so many opportunities to sample, you really could make a day of it here. No doubt, though, your tour guide will be rounding you up and getting you all aboard your coach destined for the Tuscan farmhouse where you can use everything you have bought to create the most delicious Italian feast! There are some very good specialist companies offering cooking classes in Italy, but if you’re thinking of visiting the Florentine market and want to make the most of your experience by including it in a local cookery tour, get in touch with a local tour operator. You can then let the experts sort the logistics for you, leaving you to look forward to your trip.

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