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Friday, June 26, 2009

Market Towns

Shoppers, Alps, and the beautiful Promenade in Cannobio. The Swiss border is just a few kilometers away.

If you've been hanging around with me in these months you already know that Stresa has a town market each Friday. We've discussed here how getting a roast chicken is a weekly tradition, and how much I enjoy the everchanging display of goods depending on the season, the trends, and the vendors. The market is very popular with tourists as well as locals. It's the perfect place to practice a little bit of Italian. "Quanto costa?", "How much?". "Troppo caro!", "Too expensive!" Or, "Perfetto! Voglio questa.", "Perfect! I want this." And don't forget your "Grazie, buongiorno!"

But what if you're not going to be in Stresa on a Friday? Don't despair... you don't have to miss out on the market experience. Because a market very similar to this one, even with some of the same vendors, takes place in a town nearby here each day. Vendors need to buy a permit to sell in each town. And with the markets on different days, this gives the vendors the opportunity to sell as many or as few days as they want. Here's the schedule of the market towns and the days they hold their markets:

Sunday -- Cannobio
Monday -- Baveno
Tuesday -- Arona
Wednesday -- Orta San Giulio
Thursday -- Meina and Lesa
Friday -- Stresa
Saturday -- Verbania
The largest market in this area is the Sunday morning market on the Promenade in Cannobio, east of Stresa and only a few kilometers from the border with Switzerland. I went there one chilly morning in March, where I mingled with Swiss, German, and Italian customers browsing through the long aisles of booths lined up along the lake. Hundreds of chairs and tables outside the cafes and bars lose their view of the lake for these few hours, but they provide nice spots to pause now and then for another cappuccino to rewarm yourself. One side of the Cannobio market has the usual assortment of leather goods, jewelry, and linens. The other side is a tremendous food market, featuring local vendors of meats, wines, cheeses, sweets, and so much more. Many offered free samples of their food. I tried as many as I could. Here are a few photos from that morning in Cannobio.

Winter sunshine and cappuccino warm up shoppers at Cannobio on an early Sunday morning in March.


Look at these olives... And yes, he is selling salami flavored with truffles in the next booth.


Try the samples!



So don't worry if you aren't here on a Friday. There's a market waiting for you every day of the week. Or, even if you are here on a Friday, try another one as well. Perche' no!, Why not!

Market hours are 8 a.m. until 1 p.m., and markets are open all year round. They are usually located along the waterfront of each town, while Stresa's is in Piazza Capucci. I like incorporating a visit to a town with its market day; spend a little time browsing, find a new scarf, and then when the market closes and the town becomes quiet again, find that perfect cafe for lunch. If you haven't eaten too many samples that is...

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