Shopping at Street Markets in Italy: Eight things to know before you go

Over the past five years of planning Italy itineraries for clients, I’ve realized that travelers often have misconceptions about street markets in Italy. A recent client wanted to allocate four hours in her itinerary one afternoon to “do some street market shopping”, and sent me a list that included shoes, belts, glass, ceramics, souvenirs, t-shirts, watercolor paintings of main sights, scarves, and postcards. After a conversation about Italian street markets, she realized that a street market wasn’t the best way to get through her list, and decided to hire a personal shopper for a couple hours and then spend time, with no checklist, browsing a local street market.

So, if you think you’d like to add a market to your Italy itinerary, here’s what to know: 

  • Markets in Italy are not open seven days a week. One client mentioned that they planned to visit Rome’s Campo de’ Fiori market (a food market, by the way) on the day they arrived, which happened to be a Sunday. Unfortunately Sunday is the only day of the week that Campo de’ Fiori’s market stalls aren’t up (but Rome’s Porta Portese market is a decent flea market and is open only on Sundays).
  • If you don’t want food markets, ask about antiques markets, flea markets, shoe markets or artisan markets. You can definitely buy shoes, belts, bags, clothing, and locally made goods at street markets; you just need to find the right kind of market. For example, here’s a website that lists antiques markets in Tuscany. The website Napoli Unplugged has a great list of markets in Naples (my favorite is the shoe market!). Just do a bit of research ahead of time to find out which markets are on which days.

 

 

What about you – do you have any other tips you’d share for travelers who would like to include a street market in their Italy itinerary?

 

Venice market photo by Eugene Wineblat; Lucca antiques market by Sanjay Jhawar; Turin market photos by Madeline Jhawar

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