Florence dwellers who are looking for a plant or two to bring greenery into their homes often head to Thursday’s flower market in via Pellicceria, near piazza della Repubblica.
The arcades were once lined by horticulturalists selling all manner of plants, from the exotic to the more commonplace. Now, only a handful of florists can be found beneath the porticos, a scarcity that recently resulted in a petition started by Fabrizio Ermini, one of the stallholders, on Change.org. To date, 559 people have signed the online call for help, which reads as follows:
The historic Thursday plant and flower market under the arches of Via Pellicceria (Piazza della Repubblica) in Florence, which began in the late 19th century, is on the brink of closing because, in the last 20 years, the City of Florence has inexplicably not assigned the places that remained vacant due to discontinuation of a business, death or for other reasons. Given that it is a market solely for agricultural producers, spaces cannot be sold and lots cannot be drawn to participate in the empty places. The result is that, out of the original 20-plus, there are now only five flower and plant sellers remaining, two of whom will close their businesses in the coming years due to retirement age. Since this is a small weekly “flower show” in the historic centre, much loved by tourists and loyal customers, it would be a real shame if it were to end. It is one of the few historic traditions left. All the city administration needs to do is set up a tender to assign the vacant places; many flower sellers yearn to set up their stall here.
“It’s a historic market, one of the oldest in Florence, but unfortunately it is destined to die,” comments Francesca, a plant nursery owner and one of the vendors at the Thursday flower market. “As the older flower vendors retire, the council is not giving out new permits to the younger generation of horticulturalists that might want to become involved with the market and replace the retired sellers.”
Francesca’s words are echoed by customer Eleanor. “It’s very sad as it’s denying the younger generation of the opportunity to work with plants surrounded by all this history.” She remains hopeful, however: “Let’s hope the petition works and has an impact.”
The city council has been surprised by the petition. “We are working to come up with a new plan for buying and selling on public soil, and the measure that we will subsequently bring to the attention of the city council will include these businesses too,” remarked Giovanni Bettarini, city councillor for economic activities in reply to The Florentine‘s request for a comment. “Maximum collaboration and willingness from the city administration to keep the historic flower market alive!”
“It would make us truly happy and the people of Florence as well, if this market were always to have a future,” said Antonio, a plant seller at the market since 1990.
The flower market takes place every Thursday morning under the arches by the main entrance into the main post office from 8am to 2pm.
Sophia Cerullo contributed to the writing of this article.