by Melinda Gallo

Photos of the Mercato di Sant'Ambrogio

I am working on a new project for myself and I wanted to take some photos of the mercato di Sant'Ambrogio or as I call it, "il mio mercato (my market)." Because I go there often as a customer I wasn't sure if I should go to the Mercato Centrale (Central Market) to take pictures instead because no one knows me there. I didn't want to look like a tourist snapping photos at il mio mercato. I debated it for a few minutes, but then jumped on my bicicletta (bike) and went to the mercato di Sant'Ambrogio. I chose today since I generally never go to the mercato on Saturdays and I felt it'd be better for my pictures because the customers are more diverse.

Living in Florence :: Photos of the Mercato di Sant'Ambrogio

I pulled out my friend's macchina fotografica (camera) from my borsa (purse) and walked around with it, snapping candid shots. Some people who knew me just smiled and others asked me if I was a fotografa professionista (professional photographer). If I knew the people working at a particular stand I would ask them, "Ti scoccia se ti faccio la foto? (Would you mind if I took your photo?)"

Everyone was kind enough to let me take pictures of them. One older macellaio (butcher) that I don't know said to me, "Perché non mi fai la foto? Non sono abbastanza bello? (Why aren't you taking my photo? Aren't I handsome enough?)" He smiled over the glass counter filled with raw beef and chicken, so I took his photo. Later there was a much younger and more attractive macellaio at the same bancarella (stall). With his arm around the younger macellaio, he said to me, "Non fare la foto di lui...è brutto! (Don't take his picture...he's ugly!)" I laughed and obeyed his wishes and didn't take the other one's photo. I told him, "Ho già fatto una foto del macellaio più bello...non ne ho bisogno di altre. (I already took a photo of the best looking butcher...I don't need any others.)" They all laughed as I walked away.

I walked around the mercato for almost an hour, strolling down the aisles outside and entering and exiting the main building to get inspired. I took pictures of people buying fruits and vegetables, the merchants working at their stands, the colorful fruits and vegetables, and anything else that looked appealing. I took the photo here of the bicycle with the bags of groceries and flowers as it represents the mercato best for me.

In the end, I met a lot more people at the mercato because of my friend's macchina fotografica, which definitely did make me look professional. Even the pescivendolo (fish merchant) who was never too friendly with me before, smiled when I took his picture. I thought that most people would be uncomfortable about my taking pictures, but I found out that people were very accommodating and even pleased to have someone take photos of them.

The mercato is a special place where I not only buy food, but where I connect with many of the locals who live here. Sometimes I talk to the other customers who are standing next to me at a fruit and vegetable stand. Most of the time, we'll talk about the weather or the latest partita (soccer match), but it isn't so much the conversation we have than it is that we both connected with each other for that brief moment at the mercato. I sometimes don't see the person again for months, but when we do bump into each other again, we smile at each other.

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