The markets in Florence are the best way to see firsthand the day-to-day life of actual Florentines. The most famous market in Florence is the Mercato Centrale, located in San Lorenzo. Mercate Centrale was built in 1874 and is one of the largest indoor markets in Italy. A market that has fresh meat, fish, and cheese, Mercate Centrale is also home to a handful of restaurants where you get served the best of the best at a low cost. The vendors inside are very kind and willing to assist you. When you approach these vendors, do your best in trying to speak Italian; a simple "Buongiorno o Ciao" can go a long way. You may ask to taste a piece of cheese or prosciutto to see if you'll like it before purchasing it.
Fruit on display in Mercato Centrale — Photo courtesy of A.R.G.
The lesser known market in Florence is Mercato Sant’ Ambrogio, located in Piazza Ghiberti close to Piazza Beccaria. In many ways, this mercato has much more to offer than the Mercato Centrale. Tourists flock to this market since it is very centrally located in San Lorenzo. Sant’ Ambrogio is more open-air, with fruit and vegetable vendors congregating outside along with cheese and prosciutto sellers, and (something of a local legend) a man that sells homemade soap and eggs from his own chickens.
View of the Arno River from the Park — Photo courtesy of Parco delle Cascine
Parco delle Cascine is a famous park located west of the city center. It is a large, open green area with tables and shade from the summer sun. There is a splendid swimming pool in the park which is a hot spot for the locals to cool off in the summer months. On Tuesdays, there's a massive market held along the Arno River. Many tourists aren’t aware of this large park since it's located outside the city walls, but it's easy to reach by the Tramvia, which runs right through the park.