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Piles of colorful vegetables with price signs at a market in Venice, Italy.

Incredible Food Markets In Italy – The Best Way To Eat On A Dime In Italy 

Last updated on February 23rd, 2024

Whether you are planning just a couple days in each destination or have decided to hunker down and use one major Italian city as your base for regional travel, you should absolutely be carving out some time for a little market shopping.

Why, you ask? Italian food markets offer:

  • excellent regional fresh foods, food souvenirs and homemade treats
  • competitive prices
  • a lively, welcoming atmosphere – you don’t have to be a foodie to visit them
  • an easy, quick place to eat in Italy with kids
  • the perfect spot to pick up snacks that you can enjoy while sightseeing
  • fresh, local ingredients if you want to prepare meals in your apartment

In this article I will share my favorite food markets to visit in Italy, what each is best for, and what I always buy at each one. 

What Are Food Markets Like In Italy?

Food markets in Italy are either covered or street/outdoor markets hosting a variety of vendors selling food products. They can be compared to a farmers market but also include third party vendors that buy produce from the farmer that is sold to you.

Food markets in Italy can be found daily in large cities throughout Italy or once a week in smaller towns.

Keep In Mind: Food markets can also be specific to a certain category of food such as the pescaria at the Rialto Market in Venice.

A true farmers market selling goods produced by the actual vendors is technically known as a fierucola. At these markets, the food is guaranteed to be produced locally, most often with biodynamic or sustainable farming methods. 

Why You Should Visit Food Markets In Italy

frontal view of market stand close up displaying radicchio and tomatoes of all colors in small containers.

If the timing is right I will always choose to eat at a food market in Italy over sitting down at a restaurant. I like the hustle and bustle of the Italian market scene and the food speaks to the regional traditions of that particular marketplace. 

In addition, food markets are worth a visit because:

  • They are cheap and can take the place of a meal
  • You can share and sample different foods
  • Pick up freshest produce and seasonal items
  • Purchase snacks for the rest of your trip
  • Kid friendly
  • Pick up regional items to bring back as souvenirs and gifts
  • They usually get you off the beaten track
  • Opportunity to bargain and perhaps practice a little Italian
  • Authentic Italian activity that gets you involved in the local food traditions and cultures
  • Great place to find undiscovered restaurants, bars, cafes, bakeries, etc. that line the market streets (these spots aren’t usually in guide books and are very good!)

Best Food Markets In Italy Quick Guide

Food Market in ItalyCity, RegionAddressOpening HoursWhat To Buy
Rialto MarketVenice, VenetoCalle Prima de la Donzella, 306, VeniceMonday – Saturday 7:30 am – 3:00 pmRadicchio, seafood, winter artichokes
Mercato CopertoTrieste, Friuli-Venezia GiuliaVia Giosuè Carducci, 36, TriesteMonday – Saturday 8:00 am – 5:00 pmBrown bread, cured meats
Mercato di San BenedettoCagliari, SardiniaVia Francesco Cocco Ortu, 46, Cagliari Monday – Saturday 7:00 am – 2:00 pmPane carasau, pecorino cheese
Sant’Ambrogio MarketFlorence, TuscanyPiazza Lorenzo Ghiberti, FlorenceMonday – Saturday 7:00 am – 2:00 pmSchiacciata, pecorino cheese
Ballarò MarketPalermo, Traditional Sicilian Food – Authentic Dishes & the Top 10 Street Foods You Must Try SicilyVia Ballaro, PalermoMonday – Saturday 7:00 am – 1:00 pmSwordfish, citrus in winter, tomatoes and eggplants in summer
Pignasecca Food MarketNaples, CampaniaVia Pignasecca, 28, NaplesMonday – Saturday 8:00 am – 5:00 pm (although most vendors open only in morning)Mozzarella cheese, ricotta cheese, taralli
Trionfale MarketRome, LazioVia Andrea Doria, RomeMonday, Wednesday and Thursday 8:00 am – 2:00 pm , Tuesday and Friday 8:00 am – 7:00 pmBitter greens, artichokes, puntarelle

Best Food Markets In Italy

As a general rule, keep in mind that although most markets are open until 2:00 pm, many vendors tend to pack up and head out between 12:30 and 1:00 pm. The earlier you get to the market in Italy the better selection you will have! 

Rialto Market

Booth and worker with stand of fresh fruits and vegetables at the Rialto Market in Venice, Italy.

Open: Monday – Saturday 7:30 am – 3:00 pm

Location: Calle Prima de la Donzella, 306, Venice

The Rialto market in Venice, called the Mercato di Rialto in Italian, is one of Italy’s most beloved and famous markets, particularly well known for their lagoon seafood and local radicchio grown on the Venetian islands. 

The market, located just off the Rialto bridge, is actually two markets in one, the Pescaria and the Erbaria

The Pescaria is where all the fishermen come to sell their catch of the day including specialities such as cuttlefish and scallops on the half shell.

Venetian Food: For a comprehensive list of foods to try in Venice read 20+ Must-Try Foods And Drinks In Venice – And My Favorite Places To Eat Them and 5 Street Foods To Try In Venice & Where Eat Them.

The Erbaria section is full of fresh produce including spices, dried mushrooms and spicy peppers. If you are on the market (no pun intended) for food souvenirs to bring home with you, this is the place to be. 

If you are looking to visit other markets in Venice, don’t miss 7 Food Markets In Venice Worth Your Time

Tip: If you are planning to pick up ingredients to do some cooking at your apartment while in Venice, shop at the neighboring butches alongside the covered open air market selling local cuts of meat, sausages and cured meats.

Mercato Coperto

Colorful display of fresh vegetables with prices at open air market in Italy outdoors.

Open: Monday – Saturday 8:00 am – 5:00 pm

Location: Via Giosuè Carducci, 36, Trieste 

The Mercato Coperto in Trieste is one of Italy’s most beautiful open air markets. If you love a “five senses” experience then this is the market for you with its loud atmosphere, architecture, grandeur, hidden gems and fantastic food. 

The bottom floor is full of food stalls and vendors selling regional specialties such as the local prosciutto and brown breads. Don’t miss the opportunity to grab a glass of wine and sit down at one of the tables alongside the locals.

Upstairs on the sides of the building you can shop the flea or second hand section of the market chalk full of antiques, one a kind items, used books and undiscovered treasures. 

Local Food Guide: For a complete guide to the most famous foods in Friuli-Venezia Giulia, read Traditional Food of Friuli-Venezia Giulia – Foods You Must Try During Your Visit.

Mercato di San Benedetto

Display of fish and seafood with prices at fish market outdoors in italy.

Open: Monday – Saturday 7:00 am – 2:00 pm

Location: Via Francesco Cocco Ortu, 46, Cagliari 

The Mercato di San Benedetto in Cagliari (Sardinia) is an enormous indoor food market specializing in local Mediterranean seafood. It’s actually the biggest indoor market in all of Italy!

The ground floor is dedicated to the fishmongers selling the wide array of local seafood, which they are very proud of. If you plan on cooking some fish on your trip, be sure to ask how they cook it and they are more than happy to share their secret recipes with you. If you need help with cooking, check out 60+ Italian Cooking Terms To Know – A Comprehensive Glossary of All Cooking Vocab from a Local.

Upstairs is for all of you non-fish lovers. Find some of the best cheese in the world, including the world famous pecorino, the local flatbread, pastries, cured meats, and plenty of fresh produce. 

Regional Specialties: Sardinia has some of the most unique regional dishes in all of Italy. Read about them here.

Sant’Ambrogio Market

frontal view of mercato sant'ambrogio in Florence with large green gates and stairs leading up towards open double doors.

Open: Monday – Saturday 7:00 am – 2:00 pm

Location: Piazza Lorenzo Ghiberti, Florence

Sant’Ambrogio is my favorite food market in Italy but I can’t deny that I am biased (I live in Tuscany, afterall). Just off the beaten track behind Santa Croce, this open air market and partly covered indoor market is home to the most authentic eats in Florence including some of the best restaurants, bars and cafes surrounding the square.

Outside you will find mostly local produce, plants and flowers including vendors selling cheese, bread and cured meat. 

Tuscan Food: For more specifics on regional favorites, street food to try and more markets in Florence, read The Best Cheap Eats in Tuscany – 8 Unforgettable Tuscan Street Foods, 10 Foods You Must Try On Your First Visit To Florence (Italy), Food Markets in Florence, and My Favorite Markets in Florence.

The center section is covered and home to fish, meat, and regular stalls that never change. This means that the vendors indoors are much like storefronts. They never pack up or leave. 

There is also a very good bar (famous for their cappuccino) and a cheap restaurant called Da Rocco with communal seating inside. 

Nice To Know: You may have also heard of the Mercato Centrale in Florence, which is maybe even more famous but much more touristy at the same time. If you don’t have time to make it to Sant’Ambrogio, the Mercato Centrale is an excellent second choice. 

Ballarò Market

My son and I visiting the open air markets in Palermo.
My son and I visiting the Ballarò Market in Palermo.

Open: Monday – Saturday 7:00 am – 1:00 pm

Location: Via Ballaro, Palermo

Ballerò is Palermo’s largest open air market (and one of Italy’s oldest street markets) with a wide selection of produce, seafood, street food, food souvenirs and local specialties. 

There are so many stalls and vendors it’s hard to pick the right one. I highly suggest doing a market walk through before making purchases as you might find a better bargain or another item you were looking for. 

Although this market is outdoors, some of it actually seems indoors because the tents overhang far out and overlap with each other (very welcome in the blazing Sicilian heat!). 

Come to the Ballerò market if for nothing more than to take pictures. Some of the tuna is the biggest I have ever seen and the colors are incredible! 

Sicilian Food Specialties: Want to learn more about what to find at the market in terms of local food? Read Traditional Sicilian Food – Authentic Dishes & the Top 10 Street Foods You Must Try.

Pignasecca Food Market

side view of various white containers of different kinds of mozzarella for sale on a table at an outdoor market with different colored signs indicating type.

Open: Monday – Saturday 8:00 am – 5:00 pm (although most vendors open only in morning)

Location: Via Pignasecca, 28, Naples

Naples has countless street markets littered throughout the city center but the Pignasecca is definitely the best one to visit on your next trip to Naples. 

Not only is it where you will find all the locals but you will witness them knee-deep in local activity. What does this mean? Shouting! Bargaining! Chatting and arguing. Hugging and laughing. Eating and Drinking. It’s some of the best people watching in all of Italy.

Grab yourself some street food (try the fried seafood, mozzarella, pizza or pasta fritta) and watch it all unravel in front of your eyes! 

Don’t Miss: Fiorenzano is just alongside the market at Via Pignasecca, 48. They have any kind of local street food you could ever want to try in Naples. For more about regional specialties to try, read Traditional Food of Campania – Foods You Won’t Want To Miss While Visiting.

Trionfale Market 

market stand with lots of fresh produce including lots of greens and lettuce.

Open:Monday, Wednesday and Thursday 8:00 am – 2:00 pm , Tuesday and Friday 8:00 am – 7:00 pm

Location: Via Andrea Doria, Rome

The Trionfale market has had several locations since its first opening in the 1800s and is now currently considered a covered market, allowing for year-round service. 

What sets this food market apart from others is its unique organization. The stalls are color coded to reflect their category: 

Green = produce
Light green = produce grown by vendor
Yellow = dry goods, household items and bakeries
Blue = fishmongers 
Red = butchers

Unlike other open air markets in Rome that have become quite touristy over time and cater primarily to the large masses of quick turnaround travelers, the Trionfale market still caters primarily to locals, which is one of the biggest indicators of quality. 

For example, Peppino has been selling his farm fresh eggs for decades now while just down the way you can find some of the best roasted pork from Ariccia (order as a sandwich or as takeaway). And don’t miss Lolanda selling some of the best souvenirs such as dried fruits, mushrooms and vacuum sealed tomatoes to bring home. 

If I haven’t convinced you yet, let me talk about prices. They are unbeatable. Because Rome has Southern Italian produce at its fingertips combined with the wide selection of Central and Northern Italian food traditions, this market has it all – and all at a great bargain! 

Lazio Food Specialties: To learn more about local foods in Lazio, read Traditional Food of Lazio – 55+ Foods to Know About Before Your Visit.

The market is organized in hallways, with colored stalls according to the merchandising 

Other Food Markets In Italy 

A girl standing next to a fish stall at an outdoor market covered with a tent full of fish.
Me, on a trip to buy fish at the farmers market

The markets above are just some of my favorite and most well-beloved markets in Italy. I also choose them because they are the most authentic markets of them all. Italy has many other beautiful markets but they cater to more tourism and have lost some of their charm. 

This being said, they are still a vital part of the local economy and help to support local agriculture and farming practices. If you can’t make it to my favorite food markets listed above, consider one of the following. 

Other great markets are classified as general open air or street markets, not food specific, which is why they didn’t make the cut. Find them listed below.

MarketCity, RegionWhen WhereWhat To Buy
Mercato Centrale (food market)Florence, TuscanyMonday-Saturday 8:00 – 2:00 pm (upstairs food court open until midnight)Piazza del Mercato Centrale, Via dell’Ariento, 50123 Firenze FI, ItalyFood souvenirs to bring home such as dried porcini and sun dried tomatoes
Mercato Porta Palazzo (general market)Torino, PiedmontMonday-Saturday 7:00 am – 2:00 pmPiazza della Repubblica, 10152 Torino TO, ItalyChocolate and souvenirs
Mercato del Sabato (general street market)Bari, PugliaEvery Saturday 8:00 am – 1:30 pm in Viale Madre Teresa di CalcuttaViale Gandhi Mohandas, 70124 Bari BA, ItalyTaralli, olive oil, local breads such as focaccia barese
Valvassori Peroni Market (general market)Milan, LombardySaturday 8:00 am – 2:00 pmVia Carlo Valvassori Peroni, 47, 20133 Milano MI, ItalyCarnaroli rice for risotto
Piazza del Popolo Mercato(general market)Orvieto, UmbriaThursday and Saturday from 8:00 am – 1:00 pmPiazza del Popolo, 05018 Orvieto TR, ItalyPork items such as sausages, porchetta or porchetta sandwiches
Porta Nolana Market (seafood market)Naples, CampaniaDaily 7:00 am – 1:00 pmPiazza Nolana, 80142 Napoli NA, ItalyFresh Mediterranean fish
La Torretta Market(general market)Naples, CampaniaMonday 9:00 am – 6:00 pmTuesday – Friday 9:00 am – 7:00 pmSaturday 9:00 am – 1:00 pmVia Ferdinando Galiani, 25-33, 80122 Napoli NA, Italy
Storico mercato del pesce di Catania (Fish market)Catania, SicilyMonday – Saturday 8:00 am – 2:30 pmVia Cardinale Dusmet, 1, 95131 Catania CT, ItalyFresh Mediterranean fish
Mercato Orientale Genoa(food market)Genova, LiguriaTuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Sunday 10:00 am – 11:00 pmFriday – Saturday 10 am – 12:00 amMonday 10:00 am – 3:00 pm (food court hours may differ)Via XX Settembre, 75 r, 16124 Genova GE, ItalyHigh quality Italian ingredients 
Testaccio Market(food market)Rome, LazioMonday – Friday 7:00 am – 2:30 pmSaturday 7:00 am – 3:30 pmVia Aldo Manuzio, 66b, 00153 Roma RM, ItalyWild bitter greens, artichokes, puntarelle
The Quadrilatero (food market)Bologna, Emilia-RomagnaVia Drapperie 40124 Bologna, Italy(Italy’s oldest market. Buy fresh egg pasta and tortellini 
Mercato Albinelli(food market)Modena, Emilia RomagnaMonday – Friday 7:00 am – 3:00 pmSaturday 7:00 am – 7:00 pmVia Luigi Albinelli, 13, 41121 Modena MO, ItalyBest for local produce, cured meats and parmesan
Mercato Vucciria (food market)Palermo, SicilyMonday – Saturday 8:00 am – 1:00 pm (stores open all day and bars late into night)Piazza Caracciolo, 90133 Palermo PAExcellent street food such as boiled octopus

More On Markets: For my tips and guidelines on shopping at street markets in Italy read How to Shop at Markets in Italy and 10 Rules for Shopping at Markets in Italy.

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