by Melinda Gallo

Browsing the mercato dei fiori

After having colazione (breakfast) with my girlfriend at Caffè Giacosa in Palazzo Strozzi, I decided to take a walk through Piazza Repubblica. Today was sunny and warm and after our storm on Monday, I've been trying to enjoy the good weather while we're having it. I was greeted by the many banchi (stalls) selling fiori (flowers) and piante (plants). There is something magical about all the colors mixed together that puts me in an even better mood.

Living in Florence :: Browsing the mercato dei fiori

Every Thursday the mercato dei fiori (flower market) is held under the loggia in Piazza Repubblica near the Posta (post office). Instead of walking by to get home, I decided to peruse the banchi.

I have a few piante in our apartment, but had wanted to find some fiori. I usually go to a fioriao (florist) in Piazza della Signoria because she has a great selection for me to choose from. I don't think I've ever been to her negozio (shop) without buying something.

As I walked along the passageway between the two sides of banchi, I suddenly smelled lavanda (lavender). Normally I can't smell any of the fiori unless I bring them to my nose: cars pass by only a few meters away. I found the banco where the woman was selling dried lavanda and picked up a sachet. I told the woman, "Sentivo la lavanda prima di vederla. (I smelled the lavender before seeing it.)" She smiled at me, but didn't say anything back. I put the sachet down and continued my search for flowers to put in our apartment. I am always attracted to all the beautiful colors of the orchidee, but am always disappointed that they don't emit a beautiful scent too.

I was searching for cut fiori, but there wasn't anything that looked appealing: only baby roses and big daisies. They did have many piante with fiori, but they were to be planted outside on a terrazza (terrace). I don't have anything on my terrazza at the moment, but it would take more than a few piante to spruce it up.

I've walked through the mercato dei fiori many times in the past and I think there was much more selection to choose from. At this time of year, many people have already left the city for the summer and there are fewer banchi selling piante and fiori.

As I looked at the orchidee, the woman at the banco picked up each one as I commented on the beautiful colors. She must have picked up each one because I had a difficult time choosing just one. In the end, I bought an orchidea with purple and magenta flowers on it. She placed my orchidea in a plastic busta (bag) so the top of the pianta stuck out. As I walked home, I noticed that a few people glanced at my orchidea and smiled.

I love all mercati because I enjoy walking around and looking at everything. I love the freedom of just browsing the banchi without people pressuring me to buy. Any Thursday that I happen to be near Piazza della Repubblica, I walk down the narrow passageway even though I know that it'd be quicker to walk around it. The shiny green piante and colorful fiori always seem to brighten up my day.

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