PignaSecca Market.


Montesanto, Naples | 40°51′N, 14°17′E | November 2009

Naples is a love it or hate it city. Don’t expect to find the usual archetypal piazzas, flower-lined verandas or quaint, world heritage sights. It’s narrow, sloping streets are down and dirr-ty, full of filth and graffiti. Arriving in the evening, it was as if our taxi driver was racing through the noir-style set of Frank Miller’s Sin City ala Italia. Shouts of Italian profanities, wailing police sirens, and the constant racket of impatient car honks piercing the cool, night air… a stark contrast to the peace and serenity of nearby Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast.


Despite Naples’ apparent lawlessness, its this bustling, deep brooding human energy which gives this city its charm and character. And there’s no better place to experience this than walking through one of Naples’ numerous street-markets. Montesanto’s Pignasecca Market is a prime example – there’s nothing superficial or touristey about this working class market at all. Its all very very real… Aged Italian Mamas with their walking canes out in full force, barely able to stand upright but with enough life in them to heckle and jostle with vendors for the best deal on the just picked fruit and veg… Fishmongers breaking out into song, selling stiff fresh fish and sea-snails so alive, many are still trying to crawl overboard for their lives. Here are some of the highlights of PignaSecca’s best from our Friday morning stroll.

Fruit and VegDon’t mess with an Italian Mama on the lookout for her fruit and veg

Chillies and corgette flowersDried Chillies (peperoncinos) and Corgette Flowers

Pescheria Azzurra Fishmongers turn into Pavarotti @ Pescheria Azzurra

Stiff fresh fishAzzurra’s stiff-fresh fish

Pescheria Patrone do Mare“I’m a sea-snail, get me out of here”

Butcher and Porchetta Lamb with all the trimmings (left) and Roast Porchetta with garlic and herbs (right)

TripperiaA constant shower of fresh water bathes the tripe, keeping them moist

PastaOld School De Ceco with Mr. Pasta himself

The Big CheeseThe Big Cheese

Scaturchio SfogliatelliDrop by Scaturchio for Naples’ best Sfogliatelli (Filo pastry stuffed with Ricotta)

baba au rumBaba au Rum (Cupcakes bathed in Rum)

With such extra-ordinary produce, its hard not to feel in the mood for one serious cook-out. These Neapolitan Italian Mamas – they don’t know how lucky they are… Makes shopping at Waitrose seem oh-so-mundane.


(Photography courtesy of Jo)