Roman markets have a good dose of character.
But they literally have nothing on the free-for-all, in-your-face, food-and-people-crush that is the Neapolitan experience.
Craving some fried foods, Sara and I hopped on the train for a day trip to Naples.
Just off of Via Toledo, we only needed to take a short metro ride to the Toledo stop to arrive at the entrance to the market.
The outdoor mercato extends along the length of Via Pignasecca and is a mix of temporary stalls, pizzerias, and permanent specialty food shops.
Open every day, the morning time is when you find the most stands open for business.
But mercato Pignasecca is not just about fresh food – it also offers some of the best people watching in Naples.
I was the weirdo, lingering around stalls because I wanted to soak up the atmosphere.
Not able to carry back all the gorgeous produce, I went straight for the street food.
La Pignasecca is a fabulous choice if you need some Neapolitan street food deliciousness in your life.
Tiny fried alici and calamari are available in simple brown paper cups.
For the highest concentration of street food in the market, stop at Fiorenzano.
There you can find pasta fritta.
But you also need to leave room for parigina – a 1 million calorie (estimated) double-decker pizza layer with ham, cheese and sauce. Oh dio.
The street food in Pignasecca will fill you up for the day if you let it, so alternate between stuffing you face and wandering Naples’ largest outdoor market.
The rapid fire orders for fruit and vegetables is incredible to watch.
And the piles of produce are mesmerizing.
But the characters, setting up unofficial shops on wooden crates or cement blockades, are what make La Pignasecca the best market in Naples.
And stop for one last arancino before you leave to go eat pizza at Sorbillo.