It's not necessary to travel to faraway exotic places to unearth animated and colorful markets whose roots date from ancient times. You can find many such examples in Ticino and in nearby villages of Lombardy and Piedmont. The Ticino's most interesting one is without doubt the Bellinzona market held on Saturday morning. It is located in the streets of the historic center of this authentic Ticino town where residents still enjoy meeting each other and having a chat in front of the stands offering regional products; just like in the past.
On market's day, thousands of people crowd the narrow streets of Bellinzona's historic centre and stop in front of the approximately 120 stands, mostly from the region. About half of them offer traditional and genuine Ticino food products: specialty cured meats prepared according to old household recipes, delicious cheeses from the valleys with the excellent local bread (such as the special pane mercato or "market bread" from the Peverelli bakery in Piazza Collegiata), regional fruits and vegetables with the first seasonal products.
Next to the local food products, a variety of objects are for sale from whatnots to clothes, from antiques to the best artisan works sometimes even built on the spot for curious visitors to see.
Over 25 restaurants offer the so-called piatto del mercato (the market dish) at a reasonable price (around 20 francs).
To discover the origins of the Bellinzona market you must go back to the Middle Ages. In 1903 a chronicler wrote that "the Bellinzona market has its own elegance to it". In the 1930s however, it disappeared and only came back to life forty years later, in September 1975. Today, it's as dynamic as ever and has become an event that keeps the city's heartbeat while in the summer it attracts many tourists.
Other weekly markets in the region
- Ascona: Tuesday, lakeside (April-October)
- Locarno: Thursday, Piazza Grande
- Lugano: Tuesday and Friday, Piazza S. Rocco / Saturday (antiques market), Quartiere Maghetti
- Mendrisio: Wednesday, piazzale alla Valle
- Cannobio (Italy): Sunday, lakeside
- Como (Italy): Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, historic centre
- Lavena Ponte Tresa (Italy): Saturday, Piazza Mercato (Market Square)
- Luino (Italy): Wednesday, lakeside and historic centre
- Verbania-Intra (Italy): Saturday, historic centre