One of the activities I was really looking forward to in Ascoli was visiting the markets to buy fresh fruits and vegetables. Every Wednesday and Saturday morning, vendors set up shop in the main piazzas.
After visiting the big Rialto Markets in Venice, the produce markets seemed small in comparison. However, I felt more at ease here. Most of the vendors were limited to a few crates of fruits and vegetables lined up on the ground. Also, the markets were not as crowded here than in Venice.
I marveled at seeing white eggplant, speckled beans, and what looked like round striated zucchini. I smelled the strong scent of parmesan cheese as I walked past one stand and shortly saw the big round blocks of cheese. There was also a woman carving a big hunk of meat. As I continued walking, I noticed something moving in a crate and realized it was a live chicken! Right next door was a rabbit. Certainly not a sight I am used to.
I finally decided upon some small white peaches, working up the courage to try to communicate with the vendor using my limited Italian vocabulary. However, the transaction went smoothly, and I walked away with four fresh peaches, to be reserved for a special afternoon snack later on.
Shopping at the markets elevated the task of grocery shopping from a chore to a fun excursion. Instead of being another task on the to-do list, grocery shopping was an enjoyable event. I was on a mission to find some fresh, delicious produce that I would look forward to savoring. For once in my life, instead of basing my decision on price, I simply walked around looking for the tastiest looking fruits and vegetables (though I must admit price labels were far and few between). Additionally, visiting the markets made me consider and appreciate the hard work that went into procuring the food there, especially since I was potentially interacting with those who actually grew the fruits and vegetables.