Experience the true Italy by spending time and exploring the many street markets. These markets will give you a close look at the local culture, give you an opportunity to try amazing wines and shop for souvenirs. Browsing Italian street markets will put you in the heart of Italian culture and give you an experience you cannot get anywhere else in the world. This is definitely a great way to experience Italy and enhance your visit.
Be prepared to only find food items and some kitchen accessories at many of the markets you visit. Though not all of these markets carry crafts, clothing or other market-type goods, you are sure to find everything from seasonal fruits and veggies to farm made cheeses and fresh meats to local wines. These markets are the perfect place to gather up ingredients for dinner or a lunchtime picnic in the park. Some popular food markets are those in Piedmont, Veneto, Padova and Bologna. If you are a seafood lover, make time to experience the fish markets in Sicily.
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Though most of the markets in Italy are themed around food, you can still find markets that specialize in selling antiques, shoes, crafts, souvenirs and other non-food items. You just need to find the right market for your needs. There is a great collection of non-food markets throughout the country.
When looking for an Italian street market to visit, ask around and check with the locals to see when the markets are open. Just keep in mind that they are not all open seven days a week. In fact, most are closed on Sundays and holidays. Knowing the hours of local markets will help prevent disappointment when you arrive.
It is also important to keep in mind that most of the Italian street markets are only open in the early morning. Many of these markets start shutting down around 1 p.m. When these markets close down, it offers you the perfect opportunity to shop from local boutiques.
Italy is a very cash-friendly country and most vendors at the street markets only accept cash. When exploring the markets, make sure to carry plenty of cash with you to get you through the day. Also, with the exception of food, you might be able to negotiate better prices for your purchase. Speak with the market vendor to see if he or she is willing to negotiate on their prices before making the purchase. Just remember, once you both agree on a price you must honor your haggling and buy the item.
Related: Travel Guide To Italy’s Cinque Terre
When you arrive at the market, take your time to walk around and see everything. Do not jump right in a start buying things. You will find a lot of goods that you will be interested in buying, and it is best to shop around to see your options and to get the best price.
After paying for your items make sure to count your change before walking away. This will prevent any chances of you being shorted. You will also want to make sure you get a receipt for your purchase. This way, there is no argument over whether or not you paid for it later in the day when you are walking around the market.
If you purchase any large or fragile items, pay the extra to have them shipped home. This will reduce your chances of having your items break or not be allowed on the plane because they are too big to be a carry on (or they don’t fit in your suitcase).
Many of the Italian markets are very busy. In fact, some areas around street markets appear to be in total chaos. Because there are so many people around and it can get crowded, it is important to pay attention and keep yourself and belongings safe. Keep your eye out for pick pockets and never wander off to an area alone or with someone you do not know. Always stay in view of others.
There are many markets throughout Italy. Some are more exciting than others, but all are fun to experience. The street market you choose to experience all depends upon what it is you are looking for. Some popular Italian street markets in Naples include:
- Chiaia Fruit and Vegetable Market in Via Achille Torelli, Naples
- Fuorigrotta Market in Via Metastasio, Naples
- La Torretta Market in Via Girodano Bruno and Via Ferdinando Galiani, Naples
- Mercatino dell’Umberto in Via Vittorio Imbriani, Naples
- Naples Antiques Market in Viale Antonio Dohrn, Naples
- Poggioreale Market – Naples Shoe Alley in Via Marino Di Carmanico, Naples
- Via San Gregorio Armeno in Via San Gregorio Aremeno, Naples
Though many of the popular Italian street markets are located in Naples, there are many more scattered throughout the country. All of these offer you time to shop, mingle with the locals, grab some food and spend the day outside. If you plan to travel through Italy, you are going to want to make sure you find time to visit a local street market.
Heather Landon (Heather Leigh Carroll) is a freelance writer with more than 20 years of experience. She has combined two of her passions – writing and travel – to share her experiences with others. You can read more of her articles at Examiner.com.