Cagliari

The markets: a unique way to discover Cagliari

more than a year ago

Cagliari is very well served in terms of municipal markets, boasting five in total. These should not just be seen as somewhere useful to do your shopping, though naturally they serve this purpose very well, but as an excellent place to absorb a little of the local culture and its traditions.
The markets in their current form are comparatively new, having opened in their present locations the late 1950s. However, as an institution they are much older than that, and you can really get a feel as you walk round them that this is a tradition that has been going on for centuries. Some of the older citizens of Cagliari will still fondly recall the city’s oldest market structure, that of largo Carlo Felice, which was unfortunately bombed during WWII. Its destruction meant that there was a need for a replacement, which came into being in the form of the markets that we see today. There are now over six hundred small businesses operating within the municipal markets. The vast majority of these are traders of food produce, but there are also some others selling items such as clothes and furniture, or offering services such as key cutting.

Each market (mercato in Italian) has its unique selection and distinctive character, but what they all have in common is a wide variety of fruit, vegetables, meat and fish, some kind of café or bar facility for those looking for refreshment, and very friendly staff. The latter is important to mention as the market traders in Cagliari possess the unique gift of being amicable and knowledgeable about their products without being aggressive in their sales technique, which is so often the downfall of such places. Here you can feel at ease to browse at leisure without being bullied into making a hasty purchase. Some of the markets are a little too far out of the centre to be comfortably reached on foot, but they are very easily reachable by regular buses so it is still worth making the trip as you will be rewarded with a very enriching experience. Outside the actual buildings in which the markets are housed are plenty of stalls selling clothes, household items and antique furniture. The stock is extremely variable both in quantity and quality, but the patient shopper could easily find a diamond in the rough here and come out with a one-of-a-kind piece of jewellery or an antique desk lamp. In any case, the buzzing atmosphere around these stalls merits taking a minute or two to cast your eye over them.

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