A beautiful, imposing building, Livorno’s covered market, inaugurated in 1894, was designed by the architect Angelo Badaloni, then chief architect for the Livorno City Council. It is interesting both for its majestic structure, lightened by the large, elegant windows, and for its iron and glass roof, the work of the Gambaro brothers.
It consists of a spacious hall (95 metres long by 26 metres wide and 35 metres high) with a main entrance on the Scali Saffi and four smaller side entrances. The two halls parallel to the central one were originally reserved for the sale of fish and for occasional vendors respectively. The latter was also called “the Gabbrigiane hall” because near dawn, countrywomen, mostly from the nearby village of Gabbro, would come to sell chickens eggs, fresh vegetables and aromatic herbs. Worth noting inside are the eight clay caryatids bearing the fruits of the earth, the work of Lorenzo Gori. The building has ninety-two cellars which can be entered both from outside (providing an entrance for carts) and from inside. Situated above the various shops along all the halls are the store-rooms. A walk around the spacious halls will lead to the discovery of gastronomic specialties and products typical of Livorno and the many other cultures which are a part of the city’s heritage, such as kosher meat, butchered according to Jewish religious ritual.
Five entrances lead into the main food hall where 34 shops and 230 stalls sell meat, eggs, poultry, ham, cheese, bread, wine, and a whole variety of intriguing foodstuffs. There are two adjoining smaller halls, one dedicated to fresh fish and the other to fruit and vegetables. The aroma of freshly ground coffee is often the first to reach you from one of the coffee stalls. One of the most popular pavilions is the fish hall: here you can find all kinds of fish and seafood: cuttlefish, squid, octopus, lobster, sea bream, sea bass and dogfish, from the most to the least popular. Tons of fresh fish in all shapes and colours are sold as from the early hours of the day.