Genoa is called “la Superba" (the Superb one) and one of the reasons has to be its superb Mercato Orientale.
I happen to love browsing in markets where ever I go. For me it’s such a fantastic way to experience and appreciate the local cuisine and culinary traditions.
Mercato Orientale is a large covered market unexpectedly located in the heart of Genoa. On the east side of the city (hence the name Mercato Orientale), it is located on one of Genoa’s main boulevards along with department stores, restaurants and businesses.
Open every day, except Sunday, this 100 year old covered market offers an astounding array of stalls with marvelous selections of literally anything you could possibly need or want to satisfy your culinary cravings! Crowded and vibrant, locals can shop for everything, from staples to local delicacies, for their next meal.
Depending on the time of year, you will only see what is seasonal and fresh. During the fall, for example, displays included huge mushrooms, fennel, cauliflower, peppers, figs, grapes, apples, fresh berries, pomegranates, dried fruit, grains and nuts. In spring, select cherries, raspberries, melons, artichokes or asparagus.
In addition to every seasonal fruit and vegetable imaginable you can also find seasonal imports such as peaches, pears, cherries, fiche d’india (prickly pears) from Sicily, and even prunes from California!
Of course you will find fresh basilica genovese (after all, this is where pesto originated). And you don’t buy it in bunches, you buy the entire plant. Now, that is fresh!
Fresh seafood as well as meat and poultry, fresh pasta, pastries, baked specialties, cheeses, olives and olive oil, condiments spices, grains…the variety goes on and on and everything is attractively displayed.
Although you will be tempted to touch, squeeze and sample, “non tocare” (don’t touch!) is the rule in Italy, so we must resist the temptation. Regardless, Mercato Orientale is a dazzling feast for the senses.