Anatomy of a market day

I am always fascinated by our weekly market. I like to shop there. I love the slice of life when the people from up in the hills come to shop and socialize. I even like all the Expats who come and fill up Bar Mary, sitting in the sun and having their first drinks. So today I decided to try to take a series of the life of a market set-up. Actually, I’d love to know more about the behind-the-scenes of the markets, but I’ve been unable to do that yet. Once I’m more fluent in Italian I will ask. In the market there are very small individuals who sell one thing. Like the young man in a white van with his Famous onions from Cannara. He does sell dried beans, lentils. Also fresh fava beans in spring and Cranberry beans in summer. There are also four Porchetta trucks selling their famous pork. Everyone has their favorite. There are the very big industrial vendors, and the small ones with their own produce. I have two favorites. One is a local family that I like to support, and across from them a larger, not-quite-industrial one which I go to for their citrus and seasonal things. The Polizia Municipale walk through and check all their permits. There are a few musicians who, when they come liven up the scene. And the inevitable people asking for money from you. So, that description got a little long! I just wanted to try to paint a picture of the scene. And now I will talk about the set up and break down of this market, week in and week out.

I got up at 5AM to take the first picture. The two what I call “industrial” vegetable vendors begin earliest because they have the biggest trucks which need to be unloaded and then get out of the Piazza. The one on the right with four tents is the biggest. But the one over by the building is about the same size. They mostly bring the produce from the south. Sicily, Basilicata, Puglia, Campagna. They are the cheapest stands. AND they yell…at the top of their lungs…to attract customers. Or so I’m told. I also noticed the markets in Sicily operate exactly the same with the same men yelling. So I’d hazard a guess that these big vendors are from there.

Early birds start to shop at the, just set up market. This is the market just before it officially opens at eight. There are smaller trucks who come in later than the big guys and set up last. There is a large blue cheese and cured meats vendor and it is a treat to watch that thing fold itself up.

Starting to break it all down. This is about 1PM. The market closes at noon but they will sell you stuff for an hour or more until they have it all packed. As you can see, the little trucks are mostly gone.

Before cleanup. This is one of the two big trucks. The workers have it all on pallets and roll it in.

They leave behind PILES of trash, but they kindly separate it into plastic, biodegradable and wood.

The first town trucks arrive about 1:30PM. These are the Umbertide trucks. They have small trash trucks, each picks up a different trash. After that the town street cleaner truck shows up. You may wonder why the town has to clean up after these people. Well, not just any town can have a market so it is considered an asset and privilege. It brings in business. So the town does its part.

The last “Industrial” vendor waits for his big truck. These guys have it all on the pallets and ready to go. Where is that damn truck? They do have a long day. I assume they must have a warehouse where they load the truck even earlier than the 5AM when they show up here. Then they are still here until 2:30 or so.

And finally – back to normal. Hard to imagine there even WAS a market today. it is amazing to watch.

8 thoughts on “Anatomy of a market day

  1. Nancy Hampton Post author

    Hi Julia! I adore and very much appreciate the markets. I used to travel to France a lot and if I was in a hotel I bemoaned the fact I didn’t have a kitchen because of the beautiful food. The French markets are wonderful. Maybe a little better than the Italian ones. I went to France last year, Carcassonne, and they had a wonderful market. Many, maybe the majority, of the vendors sold only one thing. Like one sold only garlic, one just mushrooms, one only winter squash. Quite different. I lived in Germany for 6 years and they did have markets in the bigger towns. Near us I used to bike to Gross Gerau. Or I’d drive to Mainz. This was 25 years ago, I can’t imagine they would have disappeared. Anyway, going to the two markets a week we have here are the “brackets” of my week. The days are counted by what market is coming next 🙂. Thanks for the comment!

  2. fvg

    Here’s an amazing thing that should make us love our town’s markets even more: I naively thought it really was a European thing. Probably because of the Christmas markets that you see all over Europe. Then I asked my friend who lives in Austria about them and she said, no, except for big cities, there are no weekly markets like the ones in Italy in smaller Austrian towns. Now, I’m sure there are countries that still do it. Spain? France? I’d love to know which countries still have the Italian system. But it certainly made me appreciate it a lot more.

  3. Nancy Hampton Post author

    I love those onions! I always have some. They are mild and sweet. Sure, please let me know if you want to meet up. My email is on the contacts page of this blog. 🙂

  4. Wendy

    Those are the best onions! Unfortunately, we aren’t able to go every Wednesday, but when can we only get the onions from him. One of these days, we’ll have to get an aperitivo! Im constantly in your neck of the woods!

  5. Joanne Qualey

    Interesting summary of how it all comes together and then ends! So observant, Nancy. You have the perfect spot to observe all this.

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