by Melinda Gallo

My Monday trip to the mercato

Monday is the day I usually can't wait to go shopping at the mercato di Sant'Ambrogio. I try to avoid going to the market on Fridays and especially Saturdays. Larger crowds of people and exhausted shopkeepers don't make for a pleasant experience.

This morning we got up earlier so we could sign up at the palestra (gym). We signed up for three months instead of one. "Risparmi cinquanta Euros." (You save 50 Euros) the guy at the counter tells us. Last time we signed up, we only went for two out of the four weeks. We ended up getting sick the last two. So, this time we hope to go at least for one month!

I arrived at the mercato at a little after noon and it was quieter than usual. A younger macellaio helped me today. As he cut my filetto di manzo (beef filet), he yelled over to the man at the counter on the other side of the aisle about Sunday's partita di calcio (soccer match). I kept looking to the back, hoping my macellaio was around, but he wasn't.

I went to all of my habitual vendors to buy fresh pasta, cheese, milk, fruits, and vegetables. As I stand at the counters inside, a few gypsies and other "professional" beggars come up and ask if I want to buy some packages of Kleenex or lighters and I always say, "No grazie." But, some are persistent. One man came up to me three times in one day. They are persistent and if you don't buy anything, they ask you for a Euro to get themselves a coffee. Some people get upset at them and tell them off while others get upset and give them money so they'll go away. But, they just keep coming back no matter what.

As I lugged my plastic bags home I wished that I had brought my gloves. I don't bring my purse to the mercato any more as it's too difficult to make my purchases and carry all my bags home while balancing my purse on my shoulder.

I'm looking forward to going back on Thursday when I can see my macellaio and get the best bistecca (steak) in town.

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