To Smell: Thursday Flower Market
by The Curious Pear
On Thursday mornings, you might notice Florentines strolling home with armfuls of sweet-smelling sunflowers, poppies, wild roses and orchids. You will also notice them carrying brown paper bags filled with parsley, dark feathers of rosemary, wide leaves of fresh basil. The outdoor market is a staple of Florentine life. From the leather vendors beneath the domed arches of Porcellino to the handmade ceramics and linens sold under the shady awnings of San Lorenzo, the open-air market is a must-do when visiting this city. And there is none closer to the hearts of its locals than the Thursday flower market.
Tracing the stony pathway below the bowing portico of Via Pellicceria, this small stretch bursts with colour and scent on market days. Traders cry out their offerings, whose names sound poetic in the Italian dialect, and display their pickings in generous ‘mazzo’ - bouquets. There are miniature olive trees, elaborate cactuses, bright geraniums, dwarf citrus trees glistening with small fruit, and tangles of palms. The proud herb vendors offer up bunches of luscious green plants. Strolling the arcade, the perfume of oregano and thyme mingles with the scent of violets, cornflowers and lilies. Get there early, as the stalls empty fast, leaving nothing but the faint smell of herbs and flowers lingering in the air. As a visitor, there is little reason to pick up a bunch of flowers or a handful of herbs on a short trip to Florence. But wandering the length of the flower market, beside locals filling their arms with freshly cut flora, you might just find yourself joining them anyway.