Umbrian Market Tour

One of our favorite things to do each week here in Umbria is to visit the local outdoor markets. You can easily visit a market each day if you choose to, and in fact some days there are as many as five markets of various sizes running across the region on a given day. In Italy, markets tend to rotate from town to town, and most larger towns have their own market day although the vendors may vary. We generally tend to stick to the markets close to our farmhouse, although we do often venture a little farther over to Perugia on Saturdays for the market there.

If you enjoy cooking, or even eating for that matter, it is impossible not to get inspired as you walk through an outdoor market here in Umbria. The multitude of bright colors of the myriad of produce sold by various vendors, the mouth watering aromas drifting from the porchetta and fried food trucks, and simply the bustling energy of the many folks moving from stall to stall is simply intoxicating to me. Italian cuisine is all about using fresh, seasonal ingredients and I have adopted the habit of not planning my daily menu until I see what looks best at the market each day. Whether a tub full of tiny carciofini (baby artichokes) catches my eye, I smell a bunch of perfectly ripe red pachino tomatoes, or I find an overflowing table of fat, bright green fava beans, I have learned to let my senses dictate what we’ll eat for dinner each day after my market visit.

We now have our market visits down to a regular schedule and usually visit 3 to 4 each week first thing in the morning. On Mondays we head over to Marsciano, a town of working folks with a varied good sized market selling lots of produce, household linens, and clothing. Tuesdays we visit the market in Deruta which is much smaller but has a few of our favorite produce sellers as well as the best porchetta truck in all of Umbria (at least in our opinion). Thursday we drive to Ponte San Giovanni, which is a suburb of Perugia and holds a huge market that sells just about anything under the sun from small animals to garden utensils, not to mention unlimited number of food vendors from all over Umbria and even as far as Campagna. Those are our three “must visit” markets each week but we also add in the immense Saturday market in Perugia if we do not have anything planned on any given Saturday. The market in Perugia can take hours to browse through and it’s a wonderful way to spend a quiet Saturday morning. I’ve decided this week to invite you on a market tour with me. Although impossible to do in person, I’m sharing some photos of what we’ve seen each week this spring as we visit our favorite Umbrian markets.

Fresh produce of every description can be found at every outdoor market.
Although most is grown locally, by law the vendor must display where the produce originated.
At this time of year, most of the fruit comes from Sicily and Calabria.


Spring vegetable selection. Two types of spring onions, agretti on the right, and
fat fava bean pods seen on top.


Oranges from southern Italy just look more appealing with the leaves and branches!


A selection of various ripe tomatoes that could bring one to tears.
Notice the green and red tomatoes used in salads in the back.


If all I had was this one single fresh produce vendor from the Perugia
market to shop from I would be VERY happy!


Famous Tropea onions and fresh garlic from the Perugia market.


In the spring all the fruit apart from strawberries come from other regions of Italy or southern European countries but still is ripe and delicious.


My very favorite spring vegetable, the artichoke.
I find myself buying them by the bag full every time we visit a market!


This dried fruit and nut vendor sells some very unique items from the Perugia market.


Every market has a stand or two that sells dry goods, a few selling cheese as seen in this photos, and a number selling cured and dried meats. We also frequent a vendor from Campagna for some of their specialties as well as one from Sardinia at our Marsciano market.


As well as produce, all the markets sell a selection of clothing. You can buy everything from lingerie, sleepwear, day clothes, shoes, to outerwear and anything in between.


In the spring each market has assorted vendors selling outdoor flowers and vegetables for planting.


Every market has at least one fresh cut flower vendor as well.


Any fresh herb you could want to plant in your garden is available at the Perugia market.


This unique vendor from Deruta sells just about anything you need for your kitchen.


The perfect porchetta. Every market has at least one porchetta truck, while the larger markets such as the one in Perugia have five or six. You know the best one to visit always has the longest line!


This is our favorite porchetta vendor in Umbria that sells at the Deruta market so Tuesday is always porchetta paninis for lunch!


The larger markets always have bargain stalls. This one sells household linens of every description for 1 euro each. Although the quality is questionable, bargains can be found.


These little ducklings are sold at the Perugia market for a couple of euros. If I could only figure how what to do with them, I’d love to take a couple home!


I wish I could buy these chickens just to save them from these cramped cages.


Well, I hope you enjoyed visiting some of my favorite Umbrian markets and that if you have the chance to visit Umbria that you’ll visit a market or two yourself!

Deborah Mele
May 2010

One Comment

  1. Lovely pictures. Aren’t the fruit and vegetables pretty. I would rather go food shopping than clothes shopping. Sounds like you would to. Thanks for recipes will try one or two this week. Sounds like you are going to have a busy summer.

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