In some ways, the Mercato Albinelli in Modena, Italy is less like a covered market and more like a gallery showcasing fine art. One artist exhibits his prize, plump strawberries; another her handmade golden tortelloni; while another puts the finishing touches on links of sausage.
During our shopping missions at this fresh market in Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region so renowned for its Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, traditional balsamic vinegar, and Ferraris and Maserati motors, everyone seemed to be plain cheery. Bakers dished out free samples of thick, braided breadsticks to hungry children. Merchants’ wide, genuine smiles squished their faces in such a fashion that their eyes were nearly concealed. And a wooly, brown and white dog even took time to smell the flowers.
The atmosphere was undeniably happy. An outgoing baker named Enzo welcomed Shawn with a complimentary, lightly-sweetened Tortelli Forno. As I snapped a picture of an overflowing basket of luscious sun-dried tomatoes, another friendly gentleman stopped by. Initially worried that he thought I was trying to covertly capture him in the frame, the man pointed to himself playfully, insisting that I do include him. He was proud to tell us that he was in his nineties.
The market’s presentation was pristine. Bouquets of flowers were interspersed between bottles of bubbly. Hand-lettered price tags showcased fanciful flourishes, and stands brimmed with beautifully-arranged mounds of hand-made pasta, vibrant fruits and vegetables, and countless types of cheese.
Opened in 1931, the Mercato Albinelli is itself a work of art. From rod-iron trimmings, to a statue of a young girl with a basket on her hip, the market’s offerings are all just a moment’s walk from the city’s main square, the Piazza Grande. Lovely black & white imagery from the 1930s shows that while its presentation may have changed, the market has retained its classic charm. It’s a testament to the Slow Food Movement that was born in Italy, and a must-savor experience when in Modena.
Do you have a favorite market that you’ve savored at home or during your travels? Please share the details in the comments below.
Our Video of This Experience:
Where in the World?
- The Albinelli Market is located at Via Luigi Albinelli, 13, just a moment’s walk from Modena’s main square, the Piazza Grande. Check the market’s official website for opening hours and a handy map which shows where the various categories of culinary goodies can be found. I was delighted that there is even a stall devoted to gluten-free pasta and bread. Look for the stall #29 and the name Senza Glutine (without gluten).
- We spent 3 nights at the elegant, historic, and centrally-located Hotel Canalgrande (affiliate link). One of our favorite memories from Modena, in fact, was sitting out on our hotel room balcony just before sunset, looking out over Modena’s rooftops, while enjoying goodies that we’d procured at the Albinelli Market earlier in the day.
- Peruse the Emilia-Romagna Tourist Board website for more details about this region’s rich offerings. Also, they’ve just recently released a free e-book that chronicles Emilia-Romagna’s Art Cities. I wish it’d been published when we were in the region, yet it’s since presented even more excuses to return to this stunning part of Italy.
- If you’d also like to “eat, feel and live local in Italy” as we did in Modena, check out the BlogVille project website.
- Need more inspiration? This link contains an index of all my posts from Italy.
Disclosure & Thanks:
Our Modena visit was supported by the Emilia-Romagna Tourist Board, to which we extend thanks.
An extra special thank you to Nick and Francesca for coordinating all the details and making us feel so welcome in Emilia-Romagna.
Photography & text © Tricia A. Mitchell. All Rights Reserved. Video footage is courtesy of my husband, Shawn.