A Complete Guide to Sant’Ambrogio Market in Florence

Most visitors to Florence clamor around the street food stalls of the Mercato Centrale. Have you heard about Sant’Ambrogio market, though? 

Smaller than its Florentine brethren, Sant’Ambrogio is beloved by locals (and less populated by tourists). It’s a great place to wander (particularly in the late mornings) to get a deeper sense of local life here where Florentines shop in the same place where their parents, grandparents, and, in some cases, great-grandparents also purchased pasta, fruit, vegetables, and meat to feed their families.

Welcome to Sant’Ambrogio Market. Read on to learn everything about this charming market before a visit to try some of Florence’s tastes and traditions.

Views of Santa Maria del Fiore from a street in Florence filled with tastes and traditions
Approach Florence like a local, exploring beyond its touristic markets. Photo credit: Heidi Kaden

The Sant’Ambrogio market history

In 1865, the capital of the newly unified Italy shifted from Turin to Florence. This Tuscan city on the Arno River would only be the capital for six years before it shifted further south to Rome. Yet, during that time, city authorities initiated a building boom. 

They razed parts of the city, including the old market, and built new structures. One of those buildings was the Mercato di Sant’Ambrogio, which was finally finished in 1873, a year before the Mercato Centrale (also known as Mercato di San Lorenzo) was built, making it the oldest still-existing market in Florence. 

Architect Guiseppe Poggi, who was the lead designer of the city during its brief stint as the capital, was instrumental in shaping the look of both Sant’Ambrogio and San Lorenzo, using Paris’s Les Halles market as a model. He wanted to make it more modern than medieval, using cast-iron and glass for its structure and facade.

Sant'Ambrogio market from outside
As the oldest still-standing market in Florence, a visit to the Sant’Ambrogio market shouldn’t be skipped. Photo credit: sailko

Visiting the Sant’Ambrogio market today

The Mercato di Sant’Ambrogio is smaller than San Lorenzo, and that is by design. Giuseppe Poggi intentionally wanted San Lorenzo, the more centrally located market, to be bigger to serve locals and visitors, and Sant’Ambrogio smaller to serve the denizens of Florence’s eastern neighborhoods.   

The market is packed with more than just food. At Sant’Ambrogio you can walk away with a full new outfit of clothes—from shoes and socks to a leather belt, to a hat for your head—plus tonight’s dinner. You can even buy furniture!

So, in theory, you could go to the Mercato di Sant’Ambrogio in the morning and buy an entire basket of food for dinner, plus a table and chairs in which to feast on said dinner and some nice clothes to wear while you’re eating. 

Sant’Ambrogio is more of a locals affair, as neighbors come here to actually shop for food and other things—one of the very few non-supermarket options to buy food

If you’re here to buy fruit and vegetables, Sant’Ambrogio is still filled with actual farmers from the Tuscan countryside selling their wares. They’re easy enough to spot: just find the stalls with the largest number of local people around them, and you’ve found the right spot. 

Most of the fruit and vegetable stands are outside of the structure. Head inside to find a legion bancherelle (stalls) of butchers and cheesemongers. 

Fruit and vegetable stalls at Sant'Ambrogio market
Find the most tasty and fresh fruits and vegetables in the Sant’Ambrogio market. Photo credit: Eric Parker

Sant’Ambrogio market hours and when to go

Located on Piazza Lorenzo Ghiberti, the Mercato di Sant’Ambrogio is open Monday to Saturday, from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m (as of 2024). If you want to see the market in all its glory and action, get up early and point yourself to the Sant’Ambrogio neighborhood. 

As the day goes on, the market is less clamorous and cacophonous. So, if you want a more tranquil experience, aim for noon and 2 p.m. (especially if you’re going for lunch).

Busy morning at the Sant'Ambrogio market in Florence
As with any local market, Sant’Ambrogio can get quite busy, and that’s part of the experience! Photo credit: Eric Parker

What to eat at the Sant’Ambrogio market

Long before places like Eataly sprang up, Europeans were not only shopping at central food markets, but often eating there too. Feasting on snacks (or even lunch) at a market is a great idea. You know the ingredients are super fresh because the sources are a mere steps away. 

The Mercato di Sant’Ambrogio has less options for eating than the Mercato Centrale, but less doesn’t mean worse.

Our 5 favorite spots in the market (2024)

Food stall inside a market in Florence
Find the most charming and delicious places when walking into these Florentine markets. Photo credit: Charles Büchler

1. Da Rocco

Since the mid-’80s, Rocco has been cooking up Florentine goodness inside the Mercato di Sant’Ambrogio. 

Da Rocco is a tavola calda, a hot table, meaning that the food is prepared in the morning and is kept warm until it’s scooped, spooned, or ladled into a bowl or plate, and served to you. 

Rocco serves up seasonal fare, so expect soups, pastas, meatballs and other Tuscan delights.

Trippa a la Fiorentina, traditional Florentine dish
Try, for example, something delicious and traditional like Trippa alla Fiorentina. Photo credit: Alpha

2. La Caffetteria del Vecchio Mercato

If you’re in the market in the morning, and ready for a caffeine boost (or need a post-pranzo pick-me-up), look no further than this coffee spot inside the market

La Caffetteria del Vecchio Mercato pulls a fine espresso, and a great cappuccino too. They also have fresh cornetti (or croissants) in the morning.

Person pouring a cup of coffee
Enjoy a cappuccino for breakfast in the Sant’Ambrogio market. Photo credit: Brooke Cagle

3. I Trippaio

Nicola is the man behind this deli and butcher shop. I Trippaio is the place to go to sample the Florentine delicacy lampredotto. Keep in mind that this delicacy may be only for the adventurous. 

Lampredotto is boiled tripe (or simply, part of the stomach lining) served placed between two slices of bread. It’s better than it sounds and looks, and Florence is the place to eat it. 

Lampredotto Sandwich made from the fourth and final stomach of a cow
If you’re feeling bold, you’ll definitely want to try a lampredotto, and you will not regret it. Photo credit: William Held

4. Luca Menoni

Luca Menoni butcher shop has been in the market for as long as anyone can remember, and also serves ready-to-eat food. Indulge in some beef tartare, hearty soups, and lasagna, among other delights.

Luca Menoni in Sant'Ambrogio market
Delicious home-made meals and top quality fresh ingredients that will make you want to eat here every day. Photo credit: Ted McGrath

5. Da Stefano

Da Stefano specializes in fine bottles of wine and various Tuscan food stuffs that can be eaten there or taken to go.  You can get liberal slices from wheels of artisanal cheese and unctuous prosciutto, among other very edible goodies. Make sure to pair everything with the perfect glass (or bottle) of fine Tuscan wine.

Table of cheese snacks and glass of wine
Stop for some wine and cheese, and get some souvenirs to take back home. Photo credit: Camille Brodard

Sant’Ambrogio market recap

What is the Mercato di Sant’Ambrogio? 

The Sant’Ambrogio market happens to be the oldest market in Florence—beating out the larger and more central San Lorenzo market by a year.  It’s one of the only food markets in Florence, and has a more local flavor to it because it is just east of the center of town.

Where is the Mercato di Sant’Ambrogio? 

Sant’Ambrogio market is located east of the Duomo, in Florence, in the neighborhood of the same name. It’s not far from the district of Santa Croce. You can find it on Piazza Lorenzo Ghiberti. 

Sant'Ambrogio market fruit stalls
Find fresh Tuscan fruits and vegetables outside, and delicious meals inside of Sant’Ambrogio market. Photo credit: David Bramhall

What should I eat there? 

You can sip espresso, drink wine, snack on prosciutto, graze on roasted vegetables, tuck into bowls of pasta and soup. If you’re up for an adventure, try a sandwich made with lampredotto: cow innards on bread and sprinkled with a salsa verde. 

Tips for visiting the market? 

  • Be sure to bring cash. Not every vendor takes cards. 
  • Bring your own bag if you plan on buying some fruits, vegetables, and meat for later, bring your own bag. 
  • Don’t have any fear of asking the vendors how something should be made. 
  • Also, like any traveler, have your wits about you and be careful of pickpockets.
Sant'Ambrogio market with locals waiting for food
Feel like a local exploring the Sant’Ambrogio market. Photo credit: Eric Parker

Finish off your day in Florence by booking the VIP After-Hours Tour with Dome Climb and Private Terrace Access to experience the breathtaking Florence Duomo in a one-of-a-kind and privileged manner—immerse yourself in the cathedral’s solemn closure, where the Key Master turns off the lights and secures this iconic building for the day.

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About the author

David Farley is a West Village-based food and travel writer whose work appears regularly in the New York Times, National Geographic, BBC, and Food & Wine, among other publications. He’s the author of three books, including “An Irreverent Curiosity: In Search of the Church’s Strangest Relic in Italy’s Oddest Town,” which was made into a documentary by the National Geographic Channel. You can find Farley’s online homes at https://www.tripout.online/ and https://dfarley.com/index.html

More by David Farley

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