London is an exciting and fascinating giant metropolis in the heart of the quiet Great Britain. 51% of London’s population is not from London, which makes the city a mosaic of cultures without comparison where you can breathe a unique and always different atmosphere. London markets represent this feature. They aren’t just places to shop but they are tourist attractions where the whole world comes to the public through its fragrances, its music and its traditions. The Italian Eye offers a path through the best London Markets where you can fin almost everything.
BOROUGH MARKET (8 Southwark St, London SE1 1TL, UK)
It extends under and around the railway arches of London Bridge and is one of the largest food markets in the city. The Londoners call it the “food heaven”. Borough Market is made up of approximately seventy stands where you can buy typical British products, fresh food to cook at home and culinary specialties from all over the world. You can buy hand-made bread, smoked cod with oak wood, shrimps preserved in butter flavored with cinnamon. Without forgetting a passage through the stands offering British cheeses, olives and pistachios.
Also vegetarians have a choice with curious Veggie Table where you can try a tasty burger made with vegetables, beans, legumes, herbes and spices. Required step on the hand that offers the famous liquor Pimm’s, English summer drink from reddish tint with citrus and spices taste, commonly served in the English style with lemonade, apples, oranges, cucumbers and mint. Open Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10am to 5pm, Fridays from 10am to 6pm and Saturdays from 8am to 5pm.
BRICK LANE (91 Brick Ln, London E1 6QR, UK)
Brick Lane Market is the historic Sunday market in East London, the center of the Bengali community in the capital. There is everything, from rich stands with fruits and vegetables to the clothing shops, antiques and vintage objects stands. The main characteristics of this market are the oriental dishes, offered on each side of the road. The colour and the smell of spices invite the most skeptical and traditional visitor to taste Mexican, Indian and Ethiopian dishes prepared in huge and warm pans in front of you by the local chef. You can eat the best dishes with curry at Brick Lane borough. Try without hesitation the fresh coconut drink. It’s a cold drink inside younger and green nuts, not similar to coconut milk. If you close your eyes and sip the drink through a straw you can feel you are not in London! Open every Sunday until 5 pm.
CAMDEN MARKET (56 Camden Lock Pl, London NW1 8AF, UK)
Here we are at the huge Camden Market. It takes its name from Camden Town borough, near Regent’s Canal, North of London. Every day tourists from all over the world are attracted by the fascinating lights and by original paintings on the houses of this magnificent area. Over the weekend there are so many people that it is dutiful to warn lazy and rushed visitors the exploration can take hours. Our first suggestion is to walk along the Camden Lock. This is the best area to visit shops selling art objects, bracelets, necklaces and to look for a souvenir.
There are also eccentric clothes, extravagant hats, vintage articles and things of different ages. How can we forget Pink Lady shop? Here a lady dressed in pink clothes sells articles just in that colour. The smell of incense fills the streets and makes the atmosphere pleasant and very particular. You cannot miss food: try hot red wine, grilled corn, sandwiches, crepes and kebab. The smell of Chinese, Thai and Indian food mix all together in an unforgettable sensation. You really cannot miss this eccentric and weird market!
Open every day from 10 am to 6 pm.
PORTOBELLO ROAD (Portobello Rd, London, UK)
Portobello Market is located near the neighborhood of Notting Hill, one of the richest and most desired area in London, become famous thanks to the movie starred by Julia Roberts e Hugh Grant in 1999. The market takes place at Portobello Road, whose charm is given by the pastel colours of the houses in the street. One of the first buildings was the house where George Orwell lived, a plaque on the front door gives an evidence of this. Portobello Road Market has become particularly famous for antiques in the 50s. Today it has an incredible variety of shops, second hand clothes, books, CDs, posters and ceramics.
If you are interested in fashion you cannot miss 282 shop selling furs and trendy bags. For luxury clothes the right place is Haute shop. If you are looking for hand-made vases and glasses or if you are looking for a vintage t-shirt at £ 2, this is again the right market. Open from Mondays to Wednesdays from 8 am to 6 pm, on Thursdays from 9 am to 1 pm and Fridays and Saturdays from 7 am to 7 pm.
BRIXTON VILLAGE MARKET (Electric Ave, London SW9 8JX, UK)
Let’s move to London South, at Brixton. This district was known for his bad reputation as a dangerous area many years ago. Nowadays Brixton has been totally renewed and its market, Brixton Village, the most original and local market in London, not easy to be reached by mass tourism. The population is mainly Afro-Caribbean and you can hear raggae music while doing shopping around the stands. Excellent vegetables and exotic fruits, fish and meat stands as well as shops of Persian carpets with variegated colours and unusual combinations.
Try to get in one of these mini markets on the road and sniff the fragrance of Asiatic spices. Just one curiosity: in 2009 a currency accepted and used only in this part of London, the Brixton Pound, was launched in order to support the local economy. Open every day, no Sundays, from 10 am to 6 pm.
by Roberta Visentin