Mercato del Carmine (Carmine Market): Welcome to Lucca, Italy


“Non vedo l’ora!” In Italian, this literally means, “I don’t see the hour.” But colloquially, it means, “I can’t wait!” This is how I feel about the re-opening of the Carmine Market in Lucca where I now live.

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Imagine vendors with fruits, vegetables, meats, poultry, seafood, cheeses and baked goods all under one roof with their own stalls or mini-specialty stores. For example, Seattle, San Francisco, NY, Barcelona, Valencia, Venice, Padua, Istanbul… all have famous markets like these. They’re like massive farmers’ markets but indoor and with additional products.

Pike Place Market, Seattle, WA, USA

Visiting such places is always a thrill. I eat what I can while there and bring home with me what I can’t. It’s a great way to experience different cultures and to have edible memories. Soon I’ll have this experience literally one block from where I live. The Carmine Market been closed for about five years for seismic retrofitting (something I am quite familiar with, having just lived in San Francisco!). But hopefully by next spring it may be open. I’ll report back when it is.

Central Market, Valencia, Spain

About the Market

The Carmelite order of nuns was granted a complex of buildings for their convent from their bishop in 1342. It was in continuous operation until the 1930’s. During those 600 years, the building has been modified and expanded continuously. At one point in the 1800’s the convent hosted the city’s magistrate’s office (a real magistrate office, not the spam phone calls you get from the faux Internal Revenue Service’s “magistrate office” telling you that you must surrender to the police. But I digress…). In 1932 the city moved an existing outdoor market from the 2nd century Roman amphitheater (long gone but the shape is intact with shops, restaurants and houses built around it) into the Carmine complex. At the time this included 31 shops, 200 stalls, 30 fish stands, and 6 wholesale markets. Work began in 2014 which, so far, has included structural and seismic updates, closure of the open air roof, conservation of the bell tower and more. The building recently hosted an art exhibition and even more recent posters indicate the return of the market is impending.

Until it reopens, “non vedo l’ora!”

Indoor and outdoor historic market in Padua (Padova), Italy


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Author: gregnelsoncooks

Visit weekly for original and adapted recipes as well as cooking tips to make your kitchen life easier — and more delicious! I’ll include simple, straight forward instructions along with recipes that are truly worth your time making. And, recipes that elevate the familiar and introduce you to the new and unexpected.

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