I’ve been to a lot of local markets—it’s actually one of my favorite things to do in any city I’m visiting – but, I must say that I’ve not seen a market like the marvelous Mercato Orientale.
The Mercato Orientale in Genoa lives up to the moniker of the city itself, la Superba (the Superb one) – it is indeed superb!
On the east side of the city, hence the name Mercato Orientale (not having anything to do with the Far East), it is located on one of the main boulevards, Via XX Settembre along with department stores, restaurants and businesses. The location is unexpected and unusual in that most markets are on the fringes or outskirts of a large city but Mercato Orientale is virtually in the heart of Genoa.
Over 100 years old, the covered market is open daily year round (except Sunday) from 7:30am – 1pm and then from 3:30 – 7:30pm. With its rather modest and poorly signed entrance, it would be very easy to miss. This might suggest a rather ordinary, if not small, market but it is quite the opposite!
Once you enter and pass by the initial flower and fruit stands, you will be greeted by an absolutely astounding array of stalls displaying dazzling selections of literally anything you could possibly need, want or imagine!
Crowded and vibrant, locals can shop (almost) daily for everything from staples to guilty pleasures, including including local and imported delicacies and treats, for their next meal.
It was fall during our visit so huge portobello and porcini mushrooms, fennel, cauliflower, peppers, figs, grapes, apples, fresh berries, and pomegranates, as well dried fruit, herbs, grains and nuts including, of course, chestnuts were prominently displayed.
And, needless to say, you will find fresh basilica genovese. And you don’t buy it in bunches, you buy the entire plant! Now, that is fresh!
In addition to every seasonal fruit and vegetable imaginable you can also find imports such as peaches, pears and fiche d’india (prickly pears) from Sicily, and even prunes from California!
Genoa is known as a seaport and that means fresh, fresh fish in every size and shape imaginable! (Even sea snails!)
Then there’s meat and poultry, fresh pasta, pastries and other baked specialties, cheeses, olives and olive oil, condiments, jams, spices, grains and legumes…the variety goes on and on…
The temptation to touch, smell, and sample is strong but “non tocare” (no touching) is the rule in Italy so we must resist that urge.
Regardless, Mercato Orientale is a dazzling feast for the senses!
Wouldn‘t you love to join us for this fabulous market stroll as well as enjoy so many other amazing experiences in Genoa and the spectacular Italian Riviera?
Join me for “la dolce vita” on the Italian Riviera!