Recently I have re-discovered how pleasant it is to go to the street market.
Here in Arzignano the appointment is every Tuesday morning. I remember as a student, I liked to go to the market when I was on holiday, it was an occasion to meet my friends that went to different schools. When I finished school I lost interest in the market, also because I was either in Bologna at uni or at work.
I have always considered the weekly market a place for students or housewives, but recently I’ve found new interest in it as a perfect place where to explore the “local life” of a small town in the countryside of Italy. I think it’s because of my grown passion for photography; photography has helped me look at my hometown Arzignano with different eyes: I appreciate more the old houses, the alleys, the small squares, the lamp posts and the events that take place here. Market included.
I work from home, so walking to the market has become for me a good excuse to do some exercise and to see something different from my computer screen. It started as an excuse and has become a weekly need.
The market as a shopping experience
At the market you can find anything you need: from kitchen utensils to electronic devices, from chinese cheap clothes to last year’s designer t-shirts; but my favorite stalls are those selling food and flowers. The love with which the artichokes are displayed, the inviting smell of fried fish, the cheese from the mountains nearby, the colorful flowers: I love to walk around the stalls and look at their produce and the people.
The People. The street market is also The People. Yes, because going to the market is a different way of doing shopping, much more personal than going to the supermarket or a big shop. You don’t have to wonder around the aisles looking for the socket you need; you can ask the lady which pot is best for your Ossobuco or which plant is more suitable for your terrace; you don’t pick your cauliflower from a basket or the mozzarella from a fridge, you’re helped with a smile by someone that was just waiting for you.
The market as a social event
Arzignano is not a very lively town, but on Tuesday mornings it revives: it’s difficult to find a parking lot, you have to wait a bit longer for your cappuccino and you can hardly find a table to sit; there’s a lot of chatting and music and action.
Seniors meet their friends at the market instead of the bar where they usually play cards; housewives gossip a bit between a lettuce and a bunch of fresh flowers; Eastern Europe caregivers take their patients to the market and with the occasion meet their nationals; Indian women enjoy a stroll in the sun and buy some clothes for their children.
On Tuesday mornings in Arzignano there’s no ethnic segregation, no Ghanians on one bench and posh Italians sipping spritz aperol at the café. For once, we are all mixed together and we enjoy a moment of distraction and conviviality.
You can follow my weekly appointments with the market on Instagram: martedialmercato .
More pictures from the market here: