One half of the traditional Mercato San Lorenzo marketplace, this atmospheric two-story food market, which is housed in the old 19th-century Mercato Centrale building in Florence, is one of the best places to sample local delicacies. Butchers, fishmongers and greengrocers occupy the ground floor, while delis and restaurants upstairs have plenty of seating if you want to eat in. Whether you're after a quick bite to eat while sightseeing or picking up authentic Italian ingredients to take home as a souvenir, Mercato Centrale is the place to be.
Florence is the capital of Italy's Tuscany region, so you absolutely must try some of the local flavours. If you're after something hearty and filling, opt for a lampredotto sandwich, which is made with cow's stomach and served with salsa verde. On the lighter side of the spectrum is panzanella, a cold bread salad made with tomatoes, olive oil, basil, vinegar and salt. Don't worry, it's not all unfamiliar dishes; you can also find classic favourites like pizza, pasta and focaccia.
If you're after more of a picnic lunch than a full-blown meal, peruse the aisles for some fresh cheese and salumi - Italian cold cuts made from pork or beef. Round it off with some truffle honey, extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar for good measure.
In the street outside Mercato Centrale is another type of market: a leather goods market filled with vendors hawking bags, shoes, and various trinkets. If you want to get stuck in, browse the stalls, beware of fakes and don't forget to haggle!
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