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The most famous fish markets in Italy

With over 8,000 km of coastline, our country has a very close and deep relationship with the sea. It follows, therefore, that in many locations there are recognized fish markets throughout Italy and where comes the best fish that we can also export in large quantities. But what are these markets and where are they?

Cagliari, Genova, Mazzara del Vallo, Ancona, San Benedetto del Tronto are just some of the locations that host the most famous fish markets in Italy. The fishing tradition of our country continues to be increasingly flourishing, year after year, as it is ancient and wisely kept alive the seafaring tradition.

It is not a real rule, but most of the most popular ports host famous fish markets, where tradition meets current needs and the freshly caught fish is sold to different types of buyers: from private individuals to shopkeepers to restaurateurs. In this article, let’s discover together which are the most famous fish markets in Italy.

Mercato Ittico Milano, ecco perché in città si mangia il pesce più fresco d' Italia - Puntarella Rossa
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The market of San Benedetto in Cagliari, the largest in Europe

The Sardinian capital is home to one of the most important fish markets and the largest in Europe, by size: the market of San Benedetto. It represents the most famous symbol of the homonymous district of the city of Cagliari and occupies a prominent position within the city, being in one of the highest points. The inauguration dates back to June 1957 and, with its 8000 square meters distributed on two levels, offers a variety of fish really monstrous.

However, it is important to know that the market of San Benedetto is not exclusively about fish. While the first floor, in fact, is used only for the sale of fish, shellfish and molluscs, the upper floor also houses other products, including vegetables, fruit and meat.

San Benedetto corsa agli acquisti per il menù di Natale | Cagliari -  Vistanet
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The fish market of Mazara del Vallo

The fish market of this Sicilian town is a set of smells, colors and sounds that make it unique. Starting from the iconic red shrimp of Mazara del Vallo, which is fished here and sold to buyers arriving from all over Italy and Europe, continuing with the freshest and tastiest fish you can ever find.

The tradition of fish markets in Sicily goes beyond the only fish market of Mazara del Vallo and touches all the coasts of the island that is kissed by the sun almost every day of the year and that represents a true unicum in the ecosystem of our country.

Mercati di Palermo, il cuore saporito della città
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San Benedetto del Tronto fish market

Not to be confused with the aforementioned market of San Benedetto in Cagliari, the town of San Benedetto del Tronto (province of Ascoli Piceno) hosts one of the largest fishing ports in Europe. The fish trade has always had a fundamental position in the economy of this city, so that the fish market has ancient origins. It seems that it was built on a permanent plan in 1886, but that before that the fish was sold directly on the beaches.

Small curiosity: it is thanks to the very close relationship of San Benedetto del Tronto with the sea and with fishing that one of the most famous local dishes is born, the brodetto alla sambenedettese. It is a fish soup born from the fishing tradition, where fishermen cooked soups with the least valuable fish (which therefore would not be sold) to be able to enjoy hot while at sea at night.

Other fish markets

To limit oneself to these three markets would be far too reductive, since every sea locality hosts at least one small fish market. As a general rule, developments in recent years have concerned the way in which fish is sold. If before, in fact, the fish markets were distinguished by the sale of fresh fish whole, now the needs of buyers have changed.

For example, in addition to the classic schools of fish, it is not unusual to find fish already gutted or scaled, cut and spored, or already killed to be eaten raw. In some markets, even, there are now also small bistros that allow you to eat fresh fish cooked and prepared according to different local recipes.

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