Our local open air market is held in Aulla on Saturday mornings. In summer, it stretches out over several streets “downtown.” It used to be a delightful hodgepodge of different things all mixed up, but last year they organized it and now one street is entirely devoted to food, one to clothing, and one to a mix of flowers, kitchenware, and rugs—with the occasional clothing vendor thrown in.
If you’ve never been to Italy, you might be surprised at what you can buy in an open air market. Even I was surprised at the offerings in winter.
We strolled down the food street and bought a fire-roasted chicken for lunch (€6.50), along with a bag of potato croquettes. For dinner, we bought some seppie (cuttlefish) to grill, then headed over to the vegetable stalls.
We eyed the purple-tinged artichokes from Sardinia and the green beans from Senegal. Everything is marked with its provenience. We settled on a bundle of pencil-thin asparagus from Sardinia and a lemon from Sicily to squeeze over the seppie.
(A simple dinner; all you need is one of those ribbed grill pans the Italians use like you see on the right, grilling the asparagus, then turning it out on to a plate to drizzle with good olive oil and a dusting of sea salt. Then you slap the seppie on the grill and cook until they curl, which takes just a few minutes. Remove them to the plate and hit them with a little lemon juice and you have a great seafood dinner.)
After food shopping Martha hit the Clothing Court. On the way back to the car she bought a scarf for €3 and a cashmere/wool sweater for €10 in the far reaches of the market controlled by Asian immigrants who chatter amongst themselves but have the advantage in that many of them also speak some English.
What impressed me was that the market had not lost steam from the summer. People clogged the streets on a cloudy and cool day in which rain threatened and the umbrella salesmen played the field, jabbing their wares at startled customers while wishing for a downpour.
You don’t miss a thing in winter. Except maybe the sun. And the sweat.