There are beautiful, magnificent piazzas in European cities. And cute squares in small towns. Markets are set up in these cute squares. Those who live in the vicinity buy their vegetables, fruits, cheeses and salami at these markets. These small squares are surrounded by restaurants and cafes. Usually the vegetable-fruit markets close at lunchtime and the tables and chairs of surrounding restaurants-cafes emerge instead of produce stalls. These piazzas and squares are the joy of the towns. They are alive and colorful. They bring joy to sellers as well as those watching the action.
Among those squares, my favorite is Campo Dei Fiore in Rome. It’s smack in the middle of history. Sale of fruits, vegetables and flower continue among shouts until lunchtime. The square is the meeting place of young Romans and tourists at night. Cafes, bars, cocktail lounges and restaurants are full of people while loud noises and shouts fill the void left by stalls. The square is alive until well after midnight.
Marché Provencal in Antibes is a small but cute marketplace. It is also surrounded by cafes and restaurants. It’s swarmed with people in the evenings. Usually there is also music. People drink wine, dance and have fun all night.
Union Square in Manhattan is nothing like the squares in Europe. It’s uninviting. A marketplace is set up that only allows producers from and around New York to sell their produce. It’s not as colorful as the ones in Europe. Fruits and vegetables are fresh and organic. There are many varieties of cheese and ham but you can’t find crowds enjoying a drink or two at night. The square is surrounded with business centers and it is quiet at night.
Another cute square where a market is set up is located in Nice. The area called Cours Saleya is a huge tourist attraction in Nice. Tourists who have arrived in the city via tours or traveling by themselves always drop by. You can find all fresh vegetables, fruits and flowers that grow in the Mediterranean at this market. Various cheeses and meats water your mouth, more so if you are hungry. The marketplace is surrounded by restaurants, bars, cafes, pizza places and ice cream parlors. Whatever you feel like having, you can choose and sit at a table. You can eat and enjoy watching people go about their business. My favorite restaurant here, where a flea market is also set up sometimes, is Le Safari. The walls of the restaurant is decorated with colorful jars which contain pickles and jams made by the establishment. But the best part is the outside. It is nice to sit outside during great weather- which is almost always for Nice- eat something with a couple glasses of white wine while watching the activity. The cuisine is not of course fine dining cuisine. But this brasserie cuisine doesn’t disappoint. Pizzas are cooked in a wood fire, the salads are rich and they know how to cook fish better than most seafood restaurants. My favorite dish here is shrimp with artichoke.
If you stop by Les Ponchettes next door after your meal, a double espresso will be the cherry on top. This is my favorite coffee stop in Europe along with Sant’Eustachio İl Caffé in Rome, located behind the Pantheon.
If you’re ever in Cours Saleya, don’t forget to check it out.