Italian local markets – if you have never been to one you have missed an experience.
Italian Local Markets
I am not talking about the big annual markets like the May Day market in Montepulciano in Tuscany (when the streets of Montepulciano are lined with market stalls and everyone buys their geraniums for the year) or the Fiera dei Morte in Perugia, Umbria (held over five days to coincide with the feast of All Saints’ Day and takes over three hours just to walk around the more than 500 stalls!). I am talking about the weekly markets.
Find Out Which Days Markets Are Held
Most towns and villages have a weekly market and we have a choice of several where we live. For example, Chiusi and Tavernelle (the photos for the blog are from Tavernelle which is my favourite) hold their market on a Monday morning, Castiglione del Lago on a Wednesday morning and Citta della Pieve on a Saturday. The wise tourist finds out on their first day of holiday which local markets are held on which days!
Time for Gossip
For the local people, market day is an opportunity to meet friends, catch up on the gossip and generally put the world to rights. You see little groups around the market, often small groups of men standing chatting whilst their wives go shopping.
The Mainstay of Local Communities
For many towns and villages, before cars and large central supermarkets, these Italian local markets were the mainstay of local communities. Whilst now it is easy to hop in the car and go to the latest shopping area it is still nice to have the market vendors arrive on their set day and browse the items they have available.
I love sauntering around the market looking at what is available and I rarely come home without something. The fresh fruit and vegetables are always worth looking at and often at cheap prices.
Watch out for the ‘etto’
If you are going to buy some though I must introduce you to the ‘etto’. The etto is an old system of measurement that is still in use in Italy and equates to 100 grams (about 3.5 ounces). Etto is an abbreviation of ettogramma (hectogram – from Greek hecto meaning 100). The plural of ‘etto’ is ‘etti’ just to confuse you even further. I don’t tend to worry about weight, I just indicate what I want and tell them when they have put enough in the bag!!!
What You Can Buy At Italian Local Markets
If you want just one light bulb or one battery, rather than buying a big pack, just head off to your Italian local market and there will be a stall that sells individual items. Some have knife sharpeners, some sell chicks to be raised for eggs and food.
The main attraction of an Italian local market for me has to be the handbags, scarves and clothing stalls. You could guarantee on a visit here my Mum would buy a handbag given the prices – you can still buy basic handbags for €5-10 euros which means that a girl has no excuse for not having several to match different outfits.
Different colour pashminas to match various outfits? No problem. Comfortable thick pullovers and roll neck tops for winter in different colours? No problem. Bright and colourful strappy tops to wear in the Summer? No problem. And, oh, the choice of pairs of slippers on a shoe stall has to be seen to be believed. All at bargain prices of course.
Aeroporto Internazionale dell’Umbria – Perugia “San Francesco d’Assisi”
I picked Barnet Boy up from Perugia airport this morning on his return from the UK. It was raining and I was just reminded of the old days when the airport was not exactly a shoe box on the side of a runway in the middle of nowhere but pretty close.
In those days we used to fly in on Debonair but they stopped operating in 1999. The airport has since been modernised, though it is still small (bijou I think would be a good word for it) and Barnet Boy flew in on Ryanair from London Stansted. It is less than an hour home from the airport which is wonderful.
However, looking at the rain I had a little hankering after the old days – specifically there used to be a group of men with umbrellas who used to protect you from the rain during the ‘run’ from the terminal building to the aircraft. So cute and a touch of old fashioned class!
The images in my blog today are available for sale as prints from my online gallery. Click on any image to be taken to the sales page for that image.
Before you go
My name is Dorothy Berry-Lound an artist and writer. You can find out more about my art and writing at https://dorothyberryloundart.com.
Thank you for reading!