Welcomeback to our monthly installment of the best markets in Florence! Last month, we checked out the Santo Spirito Flea Market that takes place in Piazza Santo Spirito on the 2nd Sunday of every month. It kicks off the monthly Sunday markets and is a veritable Smörgåsbord of all the wonderful offerings you will find at a typical Florentine outdoor weekend market. If you missed the post, read up here!
This month, we’ll hone in on one particular market genre (old stuff!) that is the main event on the 3rd Saturday & Sunday antique market at the Fortezza da Basso. Now, this is not to be confused with the smaller and more central antique market that happens at Piazza dei Ciompi on the 4th Sunday of the month (to be covered soon!). The Fortezza market is a bit harder to get to, but is well worth the effort as it is larger, a bit more authentic, better priced, and set in a winning venue: around a small pond in the park next to the huge fortress at the northwest corner of Florence.
Antique Market at the Fortezza da Basso Gardens:
When: 3rd Saturday and Sunday of every month (see calendar below)
Time: All day: 8am – 7pm
Where: Fortezza da Basso (see map and directions below)
Notes: Cash recommended, Italian skills a plus for bargaining
The Fortezza market is the only market that happens for two days instead of one. Visit either day, as they will both be packed with local Italians socializing and perusing the goods. The stalls wrap around the small pond that is tucked in next to the fortress, making it easily the most pleasant place to go treasure hunting. And you wont be alone! On my last visit I bumped into my favorite barista who had recently retired and was out enjoying the day with his wife.
The goods range (though not nearly as much as the Santo Spirito Flea Market) from somewhat random old “junk” at affordable prices to expensive and rare antique art, porcelain, and furniture. The items I was eyeing on my last visit were an antique tile with a painted unicorn, a stunning gold pocket watch, a vintage comic book, and a box full of old snow globes, if that gives you any idea. I ended up getting the comic book for 3 euro and was very pleased with the purchase.
There is a small stand with outdoor seating serving coffee, but otherwise there is very little to snack on at this market. So, be prepared and either eat before or after. On a good day it would be a nice spot to picnic and many visitors also bring their dogs so that they can peruse while the pups stretch their legs. Directions: to get there I have laid out a suggested route below. Starting from the back of San Lorenzo church (easy to get to from anywhere in the city), take Via Faenza northwest out towards the Fortezza. It’s a straight shot, so you can’t get lost. Follow Faenza until you hit the piazza in front of the Fortezza (it’s a huge fortress so, again, you can’t miss it). Cross the piazza here as you will get caught up in large streets if you try and cut over later. Once you cross the piazza you will be on a lovely walking path (see photo above) that follows the fortress around to the right. As you turn the corner you will see the trees, pond, and stands. Easy!
On your way back into town, stop by the San Lorenzo leather market in case you have a hankering for some items that are not antique. If it’s Saturday and early, stop by the Central Market for some snacks or even lunch. And, because I included a gelato location in the last post, I think I will again…because we need to know where the closest and best gelato is at ALL TIMES.
As you’re heading back in on Via Faenza (straight shot back into the center), right before you hit the back of San Lorenzo, on your left is Antica Gelateria Fiorentina (http://www.gelateriafiorentina.com/)(Faenza 2a). The gelato is made on the premises and they have a slew of very unique flavors that are all delicious, including Buontalenti (a very traditional crema made with egg yolk) and Persiano (pistachio and rose water!). If they don’t have at least one of these two flavors, you’re in the wrong place. Select Rule #1: never settle!
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