Mercato Nuovo/The Straw Market

Corner of Via Porta Rossa and Via Por Santa Maria
Florence, Italy

Contributed by Project for Public Spaces

A 16th Century market in Florence enjoyed by both locals and tourists.

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Why It Works

This semi-enclosed market bustles under a beautiful, spacious loggia dating back to the 16th Century. Under the arches, numerous vendors set up shop selling belts, scarves, leather goods, embroidered linens, souvenirs, and Florentine straw hats. The market is open year-round, with limited hours during the winter.

What Makes Mercato Nuovo/The Straw Market a Great Place?

The market can be accessed by virtually anyone. It is centrally located and can only be entered on foot.

The well-preserved loggia gives this market a real sense place. It also protects the merchants and shoppers from inclement weather.

Florentines call this market Il Porcellino (Little Pig) due to the wild boar fountain located at the marketís south side. The statue, created in 1612 by Pietro Taccas, was cast from a marble Hellenistic original that is now housed in the Uffizi Gallery. Many tourists come to rub the pigís well-polished snout and throw a coin in the fountain. It is believed that by doing so it insures a return trip to Florence.

A good amount of tourists, as well as locals, frequent this market and give it a lively atmosphere.

History & Background

The people of Florence have heavily used this market since Grand Duke Cosimo I had it built between 1547-1551. Designed by Giovanni Battista, it was initially used for the sale of silk and gold. In the middle of the loggia, youíll find a cartwheel symbol inset into the pavement. In times of hostility, the cityís medieval war cart was positioned here as warning of impending hostilities. The loggia was also used as a place for public punishment. Dodgy merchants convicted of bankruptcy received a proper spanking (literally) before being carted off to prison.

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