If it is true that Cagliari boasts many civic markets, it’s well known that the market of San Benedetto is the truest and most characteristic expression of the city’s spirit.
Every day, hundreds of exhibitors give life to a whirlwind of colors, scents, and flavors that enchants regular customers as well as tourists who discover it for the first time.
Every visit turns into an experience: from a quick gag with the exhibitors to the many delis you can taste before buying them, passing through cooking shows and thematic events proposed according to the seasons, shopping here has another flavor. Forget the supermarket, with its plastic packaging and fixed price: the best part of San Benedetto is the human interaction or a gift you don’t expect, as well as the invitations from the exhibitors who don’t fail to snatch a smile from you.
San Benedetto market: two floors for 300 exhibitors
The market of San Benedetto di Cagliari is today the first indoor market in Italy and one of the largest in Europe.
It was built in 1957 in the Villanova district in what at the time was still countryside, following the closure of the general market located in Largo Carlo Felice.
Its 8000-square-meters surface houses 300 exhibitors and is divided into two floors. On the first floor, there are the bakeries, fruit and vegetable stalls, the meat of all kinds, traditional sweets and organic products’ stalls.
On the lower floor, the view is lost between the counters of fish, crustaceans and sea fruits. Here, many of the exhibitors are also fishermen: they arrive at dawn at the market with the catch of the day and, according to their ironic attitude, they interact with customers with gags and jokes, while suggesting recipes and cooking tips, as they pack the purchase.
True connoisseurs know that the best time to take home the freshest fish at the best price is between 1 and 1.30 pm. In addition to the deal of the day, the fishermen always give something extra, such as herbs to flavor every fish dish, or some delicacy to retain customers.
The Old Market: the ancestor of San Benedetto Market
Like all sea towns, Cagliari has always been a crossroad of business, trade and commerce. Since the beginning of the 19th century, in the area that today corresponds to Largo Felice, the sale of meat, vegetables, bread, fish and kitchen tools took place in the street, in simple shacks, and without any hygienic control.
It was only at the end of the century, in 1886, that a fixed and covered market, divided into two adjacent buildings, was built by the engineer Enrico Melis at the behest of the municipal administration.
The “piccioccheddus de crobi”, i.e. very poor children, very often orphans or abandoned, used to sit and wait outside the market. In exchange for a few coins or something to eat, they used to accompany home women with daily expenses. The name “crobi” comes from “corbula”, the large basket that these children always carried with them, the night to sleep in crouching, the day to carry the shopping of noblewomen.
The Old Market, which for many years was the nerve center of the city, was demolished in 1957. As Cagliari expanded and Largo Carlo Felice became the street of banks, a new area – at the time still open countryside – was preparing to welcome the colorful soul of the city. Today, the market of San Benedetto is the first destination to catch, at a glance, the ironic nature of the locals, their hospitality and the authenticity of the flavors of Sardinia.
Want to see the market with your eyes and enjoy a truly sardinian experience? Then, book your guided tour by mail or with a simple phone call!