In the Sant’ Ambrogio area of Florence is one of my absolute favorite places – the Piazza dei Ciompi Flea Market. Walking East from the Duomo towards Piazza Beccaria (or from Lions Fountain to Monkey Bar, if you use landmarks like I do, which I know you probably don’t) you’ll come across Vasari’s Loggia dei Pesce, which used to be in the area of present-day Piazza Republica before the Unification of Italy. It was reassembled in Piazza dei Ciompi in 1956, and has stood there ever since.
Piazza dei Ciompi is often the subject of debate amongst Florentines. The market stalls are a bit run-down and while they should probably be updated, Italians are notoriously conservative and resistant to change. In their defence, Italian government is also notorious for screwing up these “renewal” efforts by taking something broken and breaking it even more.
Proposals for redoing the Piazza and it’s signature markets are constantly being proposed. I heard a year or two ago that one such proposal had been decided on, but as is typical of Florentines, no one could agree if this was a terrible tragedy or a momentous triumph. As is typical of Florence, I haven’t heard anything about it in a long time and have no idea if or when it’s going forward. If you know more than I do, feel free to enlighten me in the comments!
Piazza dei Ciompi Flea Market: Daily
All “polemica” aside, I love this piazza. The market stalls are filled with vintage and antique finds of every kind – from postcards and teacups to lamps and furniture. To be honest the hours are a bit of a mystery. I read somewhere 9am to 7:30pm, which seems about right from my experience, but really it’s whenever the shop owners are around and feel like it. The store pictured above overflowing with lamps is one that’s reliably open, but I challenge you to find a day and time when they’re all open at the same time. If you do, please report back to me because that would be seriously useful information.
Piazza dei Ciompi Flea Market: Every Last Sunday of the Month
Every Last Sunday of the month the normal market expands into the surrounding streets, with more than 100 stands of every kind of antique and vintage item you can imagine, as well as some repurposed and handmade items thrown into the mix. Anyone up for some treasure hunting??
You’ll find everything from skeleton keys and teacups to vintage designer bags and hats. If you’re looking for a vintage book to grace your coffee table, a vintage lamp to decorate your apartment, or an adorable 1930s shot glass to add to your collection, you’ll find it here. I actually do have collections of thrifted liquor glasses and espresso cups, so I try to pick a little something up whenever I can (espresso cups go for as little as €3). There’s one stand that’s full of WWII memorabilia and antique scuba gear. Please use the scuba helmet and Axis WWII souvenirs with equal caution.
For anyone looking for unique souvenirs, gifts or coffee table pieces to brag about, I highly recommend the Piazza dei Ciompi Flea Market in Florence.
Piazza dei Ciompi