New life for Florence's Central Market

Nestled between the main train station and the cathedral, Florence's Mercato Centrale has been a fixture of local culture and life for more than 100 years. I have always enjoyed wandering through the bustling market, filled with foreign sights, sounds and smells.

Modern hypermarkets and changes in buying habits have put pressure on the old market, and in recent years the beautiful iron and glass structure has fallen on hard times. I was very happy to see and experience the results of an initiative to breath new life back into Mercato.

The lower level still serves as a market, with dozens of individual stalls selling everything from fresh flowers and vegetables to beef tongue and calf brains

After a multi-million dollar renovation, the upper floor is now like a giant food court, only better. Think trendy food trucks, without the trucks.

Wander around, sample foods, and pick up lunch, dinner or a snack. Grab a seat at one of the tables in the middle and one of the staff will be by to take your drink order.

On a recent mid-week evening there was no problem finding a seat -- there are over 500 of them -- but by 9:00 pm the place was packed and buzzing. Most of the patrons seemed to be locals, as interested and excited by the idea as we were.

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