The colorful open air market of San Lorenzo has always been an attraction for the visitors of Florence. But even more attractive than the outdoor market is the bustling indoor Mercato Centrale, just adjacent to the souvenir shops in San Lorenzo. If you want to experience excellent Italian food at very reasonable prices, this is the place to go.
Visiting this market is one of the most fun things to do in Florence. From pickled olives, the freshest fruits and veggies, to cheeses and breads, oils, wines and meats you can find everything.
Mercato Centrale Upper Floor
The two story cast-iron building dating back to 1874 wasn’t always what it is today. While the ground floor has always been home to butchers and fruits and vegetables vendors, the place where the Florentines bought their food, the upper floor laid empty and abandoned for very many years.
In 2014 restaurateur Umberto Montano launched a project that would give Florence back one of its historic locations: the first floor of the Mercato Centrale. The major makeover turned the area of San Lorenzo into a very attractive place for tourists.
The first floor has been completely redesigned and turned into an unmissable food destination. If you haven’t visited the city since April 2014, you most likely missed the great restaurants at Mercato Centrale in Florence. This is a great place to enjoy the local Italian cuisine in a very casual atmosphere.
The large floor has been broken down into section with defined cooking areas built for the region’s top cooks and producers. The central area is occupied by a bar and coffee machines and is adorned with a colorful and kicky replica of Michelangelo’s statue of David.
The seating area is huge, with over 500 seats available where you can enjoy your food. The atmosphere is very relaxed.
The Restaurants at Mercato Centrale, Florence
It’s very easy to wander around and take your pick from the many food stands that abound with creamy ravioli, freshly baked lasagna, Veal á la Florentine, southern style pizza and hand rolled gnocchi. The food options are absolutely amazing. From fresh fish and meats, to bread and patisserie products, cheeses, and gelato, you can immerse yourself in food here.
The restaurants at Mercato Centrale are the ideal stop for families visiting Florence with children. Or for solo travelers who want to mingle with people. The place is a favorite with the locals, who come to mix and mingle in their lunch break or after work.
The Cooking School at Mercato Centrale
One of the attractions at Mercato Centrale is the cooking school, Cucina Lorenzo de’ Medici. Who wouldn’t enjoy learning how to cook like an Italian, in Italy? At the cooking school inside Mercato Centrale you’ll get some first hand experience in preparing homemade pasta and sauces.
And if you don’t don’t want a hands on experience, the glass walls surrounding the cooking school allow you to peak inside. The school has sixteen individual workstations, all equipped with top of the line appliances and kitchen utensils.
Electronic tablets allow participants to follow the instructions of chefs. Each class runs approximately 90 minutes. The classes cost is between €50-€70 and it includes all the ingredients used in the class.
With one of these cooking lessons you will learn all kinds of tips and techniques of of preparing meat and fish courses, while savoring the fruits of your labor with Italian wines.
How to Get to Mercato Centrale in Florence
Mercato Centrale is located in the San Lorenzo quarter. To reach the market is just 5 minutes on foot from the S. Maria Novella train station, and 10 minutes from the Duomo and Piazza San Marco.
Since its makeover, the Restaurants at Mercado Centrale in Florence became more than just an eating place. It became a cultural experience, an arcade of cuisine. A place of concurrence, where people of different backgrounds can find something in common. Mercato Centrale Restaurants in Florence are a total and compete foodies paradise, so don’t miss it if you are ever in Florence!
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