‘Mercato San’t Ambrogio’ is without a doubt my favorite food market in Florence. Everyday [except Sundays] the vendors start setting up their stalls at 7:00. Outside you will find fresh produce, local cheeses, honey and baked goods. Inside you can check off fresh meats, fish and groceries from your shopping list. The market is not only a visual fest [the food and the people!], but also a unique way to get a feel for Italian culture. I stop by my butcher Luca and queue for a dozen ‘polpette’ [meatballs], herbed hamburgers and a rabbit stuffed with spiced meat and artichoke. Right across at ‘La Botteghina dell’ Augusta,‘ I pick up some freshly made ravioli, ‘Burrata’ [creamy mozzarella] and ‘Culatello’ [more refined version of prosciutto]. All handed over to me with a joyous smile.
Outside you can really feel the season has changed. Today there are fresh olives, porcini mushrooms, walnuts, red cabbage, etc. I stop by Fausto [pictured with the hat] and buy some of his oven dried black olives. He also gives me some advice on how to pickle my own fresh olives. We end our conversation by discussing this year’s lack of porcini [the dry and hot weather are a mushroom’s worst enemy]. I end up meeting a cheerful bunch: Maurizio, Christiano, Sandro and Cheikh. All happy and excited to chitchat about food, Italian politics and their hometowns.
Before making my way home I stop by Roco Mangino for a quick bite. At his small eatery, just inside the covered market, Roco has been cooking and serving food since 1987. After you take your seat in one of the booths you will soon realise this man doesn’t need an introduction: Sant’ Ambrogio’s very own ‘Divina Commedia.’
Mercato Sant’Ambrogio, Piazza San’t Ambrogio, everyday from 7:00 – 14:00 [except Sunday].