Antique Markets in Tuscany
Creative shopping, understated purchases and second-hand markets have nowadays become a luxury yen, but in the fifties they did not exist yet, because the reconstruction after two world wars made any piece of furniture or even simple ornaments strictly necessary.
The economic boom of the sixties, the change in tastes and preferences, the need and wish of renewal, induced the far-seeing few to create some small markets in a couple of cities. From the eighties on, they have become a must-see for those looking for a special piece of furniture, a sofa evoking far-away memories, a lampshade fitting perfectly in the countryside house. We are talking about antique markets, an opportunity to allow oneself a few hours of sightseeing, shopping and even a cultural visit because vintage objects' vendors are usually experts on local history and traditions.
Tuscany is the region where antique markets and fairs have developed rapidly with Lucca and Arezzo at the top of a long list of cities where, once a month, antique traders, collectors and bric-a-brac dealers display their merchandise in the main piazzas. Tuscany's best known and prestigious antique market is the one held in the streets and piazzas of Arezzo on the first Saturday and Sunday of the month: this year, Arezzo's antique market celebrates its fortieth anniversary and, thanks to its prestige, attracts a great number of visitors (about 30.000 over the course of the weekend) flocking from all over the country.
Lucca hosts the region's second biggest antique market. Its strength (shared by many other Tuscan towns) lies in its setting among the town's lovely streets where bread chests, cupboards, bedside tables, armchairs and hundreds of other objects are on display, where even a new object looks like a valuable antique. The market takes place on the third weekend of the of the month: in addition to furniture, you can find XIX-century linens, vintage postcards, antique china and World War I memorabilia.
Florence devotes three weekends out of four of each month to set up Piazza dei Ciompi, where shops and stalls selling vintage objects have a permanent home and where antique dealing is a true business. The stalls are set up in the shadow of Vasari's Loggia del Pesce, but on the last Sunday of the month it extends out to the surrounding streets with vendors coming from outside Florence. On the second Sunday of the month, you can find also in Piazza Santo Spirito; on the third Sunday in Piazza Tannucci and on the third weekend of the month in the Fortezza da Basso's gardens.
In Pisa, the market takes place in the historic center the second weekend of the month; in Livorno the first weekend in Piazza Cavour, while in Prato and Pistoia the fourth and second weekend in Piazza San Francesco and at the former Breda area respectively. In Siena, another town which seems made for showing antique objects, 90 exhibitors give life to the Collector's Corner every third Sunday of the month in the Piazza del Mercato.
However, not only big cities have the privilege of being home to the most important antique markets. The Valdarno antiques fair is Terranuova Bracciolini's pride and joy: in this small town near Arezzo, 130 antique dealers gather in Piazza della Repubblica and Via Romaevery second Dunday of the month.
And, near Pisa, San Miniato (first Sunday), Bientina (fourth weekend), and Vicopisano (second Sunday), near Siena, Buoconvento (last Sunday, along the Cassia road, near the ancient walls) and Montepulciano (Arts and Crafts Fair on the second Sunday of the month).
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