Aimlessly roaming the city centre streets, eventually out of the corner of one’s eye, a presence of a grand and important nature seems to come into sight, something that appears to be way out of scale. Rested on the “Scali Saffi” (roads that run along the banks of the canals) is where the Central Market stands, or the Indoor Market as it is also known or even the Supplies Market. The Market manages to blend in with a large school building the Benci Elementary School on the Scali Olandesi (the Dutchmens’ Scali) on the opposite bank of the “Fosso Reale” (Royal Canal). Both designed together by the architect Angiolo Badaloni at the end of the XIX century, the Market is also remembered with the epithet of Petit Louvre, since the upper part is built out of glass and iron beams that are very reminiscent of the architecture of the Eiffel Tower.
It is said that Badaloni himself, in an expedition to Paris, convinced the Gambaro Workshop of the feasibility of his design, as they had to deal with the iron works. Inaugurated in 1894 it is the largest covered market in Italy and among the first in Europe. Entering one of the eight access doors one finds oneself immersed in a suggestive setting, where the flavours and smells interact with a continuous shouting and yelling. One is literally captured by a current made up of people greeting and welcoming that gathers you up and transports you from stall to stall. An ample central hall and two other halls, one for fish and the other for vegetables, supplied in the past by the Gabbrigiane, the female peasant farmers from the village Gabbro. On the upper level are premises for offices and administrative purposes, whereas below the main halls are cellars and warehouses and a large room, where ice was stored. A mooring with a pier for the loading and unloading of goods forever reiterates the importance of the link between the city and the sea; to always remind that this was and still is the best way to get to the port.