Monthly Markets: Ciompi Antique Fair

Hello all you market lovers! We are coming to the final Sunday of the month and this means I need to discuss my neighborhood antique market in Piazza dei Ciompi (near Piazza Ambrogio on the northeast side of Florence). This wonderful little nook of the city is not on the standard itineraries of Florence, but should be! Besides having an interesting history (to be discussed below), this little piazza is home to a permanent antique/flea market open Monday through Saturday. Should your schedule not permit you to stay in the city for one of the regular monthly markets, this piazza is full of treasures and trinkets to satisfy any market lover’s thirst for the old and/or the odd.antique_florenceIf, however, you can work it into your schedule, on the last Sunday of month the market doubles in size and draws antique sellers from all over Tuscany for the day. Though the products are similar to those you find at the Fortezza da Basso antique market, this is much more centrally located. Piazza dei Ciompi is also situated among a slew of places to eat, drink and enjoy your Sunday along with a side of window (or real) shopping. It is my favorite place to go to convince myself to buy the various items I think I need, but clearly don’t. For example, those vintage snowshoes from the 1940s that look like they were designed by someone as mad as Leonardo. Yes, I need those. You never know when a blizzard could hit Florence. Have you seen my photos of last year’s blizzard in Rome? I want to be ready this time and the Ciompi antique market is here to help.

Ciompi Antique Market:

Basic Info:
When: **Last Sunday of every month (see calendar below)
**This is the only market that will move depending on how many Sundays are in a month. If that month there are 5 Sundays, this market falls on the 5th, not the 4th Sunday so check your calendar!
Time: First half of the day: 9am – 3pm
Where: Piazza dei Ciompi and surrounding streets (see map below)
Notes: Cash preferred, though the stalls selling larger more pricey objects may accept credit cards. Bargaining acceptable, within reason.

And now for a historical side note!: Piazza de’ Ciompi’s main feature is a lovely 9-bay loggia that runs along the Via Pietrapiana side of the piazza. This loggia was built in the 16th century by Giorgio Vasari to house the fish sellers and is fittingly decorated with images of fish and fishing activities in medallions along its attic. The original inspiration for the structure was to create new digs for the fisherman who had recently been given the boot from their long time home near the Ponte Vecchio. Along with the butchers, these vendors and their wares were asked to relocate by Cosimo I, Grand Duke of Florence. The Duke had recently had a certain passageway designed and built to allow him to walk through, or rather, above the city on his daily commute from work to home. The so-called Vasari Corridor travelled directly over the Ponte Vecchio and, supposedly, the filth, smell, and necessary byproducts of such industries were displeasing to his Dukeness. The Loggia del pesce in Piazza della Repubblica before 1880. The Loggia del pesce in Piazza della Repubblica before 1880. However this 16th century loggia was not set up where we find it today. Its first home was in the Old Market of Florence, the original Roman Forum of the city and what is now known as the Piazza della Repubblica. Looking at this piazza today, one would never know that at one point it was filled with stalls and food sellers and was, in fact, one of the poorer and more dangerous parts of town. Things finally changed in the late 19th century when, during the unification of Italy, Florence was honored with the job of Capital City. This area of the city, along with many others, underwent urban renovation (aka “purification”) and the old market, including the Loggia del Pesce, was dismantled.Antique_market_florenceAbout 60 years later the loggia was given a new home and reconstructed using the original pieces that had been preserved in the museum/storage house of San Marco. This is ultimately how Vasari’s loggia ended up in the piazza we find it today. Along with its reconstruction, several rows of shacks were added to the piazza to house a semi-permanent antique/flea market. After suffering a fire in 2006, this small market has been scheduled for relocation. Since nothing seems to be in the works, assume it is still there until further notice. antique_artOk, now back to the main reason we are even talking about this piazza! On the 4th Sunday these sellers along with a many others line the streets around the piazza with various good – prints, books, furniture, jewelry, leather goods, art, and a particular Italian genre of curiosities and oddities. When the weather is good it is one of my favorite strolls to take, ending at one of the coffee bars on Via Pietrapiana for a snack and then more ogling. Many treasures come with stories and if the vendor is not too busy there can be a bit to learn about that seemingly simple pendent or the old postcard you’re eyeing. There is also a great selection of art and I am often surprised at the quality of the items that are hauled out into the street with their elaborate frames and, sometimes, expensive materials. There are also a handful of stalls with handmade goods giving it a bit of a craft feel, which I always enjoy. Last, but not least: vintage! During my last visit I bought a killer pair of tortoise shell wayfarers from the 80s….you know, to go with my awesome snowshoes.
As with many of the markets, even if you’re not buying (good luck with that), this is truly a feast for the eyes and a great way to start a Sunday.
Join me next Month when we transition to Weekly Markets! First up…the flower market!

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