Market days are part of the culture in cities and small towns throughout Tuscany. The general markets, featuring a variety of foods and household goods, travel from town to town visiting each on a rotating schedule. There are also arts and crafts markets filled with work by local artisans (read more about this type of market in the post Sunday in Lucca) and specialty markets associated with holidays, including the famous Christmas markets.
My favorite of all the specialty markets is the Mercato Antiquario (Antiques Market), which comes to Lucca once a month on the weekend that includes the third Sunday. This market is huge, with more than 250 bancarelle (booths), which seem to spill from one pretty square to the next in and around the Piazze San Martino, San Giovanni, and San Giusto. Wandering the markets is a treat that combines the beauty of the squares, the sounds of spoken Italian, an amazing variety of antiques and collectibles, and ample opportunities to stop for a mid-morning cappuccino, people watch, and to soak in all the activity.
The mercato in Lucca is especially known for its beautiful furniture, ranging from rustic to elegant and polished. I wander these booths, mentally furnishing my Lucca apartment. As I wander, I pick out kitchen tables and china cabinets, bookshelves and reading chairs, and the perfect outdoor furniture for my imaginary terrace.
My apartment also needs dishware, lighting fixtures, art, and decorative items, all of which are found in abundance at this market. Sadly, my apartment is just imaginary and I can't buy any of these wonderful finds. But it's still fun to pick out the treasures I would like to have.
There are also booths selling interesting collectibles, everything from antique lock and key sets, to medical instruments, silverware, war memorabilia, vintage cameras, glassware, and linens. It's tempting to take some of these smaller items home with me, but there is simply no room in my suitcase. So I must leave these lovely things behind and plan to "shop" again on my next trip. -post by JB