There is no better way to experience the true culture of a place such as Umbria than by picking through the local markets. Umbria has many outdoor markets throughout the year for food, art and other treasures. When picking through the offerings at an outdoor market, you’re sure to find worthless knick-knacks, but you might also stumble upon some priceless treasures.
Head to one of the local markets in Umbria to find yourself some very special souvenirs or bring some mementos back home to loved ones. Just be sure to always have your money and valuables under a layer or two of clothing. There is much jostling and it would a shame to have to worry about pick-pockets when trying to have a good time.
Before heading out to the market, be sure you’ve perfected the fine art of bargaining as well. It doesn’t matter what language you speak, merchants are ready to do business and part of doing business in Italy is negotiating for the absolute lowest price on anything and everything.
If you find something that interests you, show only casual disdain and don’t be afraid to walk away if it means you might be able to haggle an even lower price. If you’re not an experienced negotiator, practice on small items before setting out to find real items of interest. The merchants at any outdoor market are experts at negotiations.
Some outdoor markets to consider:
Perugia is held the last weekend of the month on Palazzo della Prefettura during the warmer months. This is the festival to visit if you’re interested in ceramics. You’ll find basic serving pieces as well as fragile treasures decorated in patterns used for centuries.
If you’re in Umbria at the beginning of a season (spring, summer, fall, or winter) you can catch Bastia Umbra in Piazza Mazzinion the Sunday immediately preceding the 21st of March, June, September or December. This market contains fifty stands of inexpensive items that make great keepsakes or souvenirs.
Another excellent ceramics market which also offers some antiques is Castiglione del Lago which is held on the third Saturday of the month from April to September in Piazza Gramsci.
You can find true treasures from some of the leading Italian antique dealers at Todi held the last week in March at Piazza Comunale. Here you’ll find furniture, paintings, figurines, rugs and other antiques.