Discover the San Benedetto Market in Cagliari

Mara Noveni | Live the World

November 23, 2022

This is a famous thread in Cagliari (especially typical during the carnival period) which helps us understand how the fish market and the fishmonger trade are rooted in the Sardinian social life.

Picture © Credits to Mara Noveni

The culinary culture of a city is the best way to get to know its people; if this is always true, it certainly applies perfectly to a place of gourmets, like Sardinia. Among the many renowned markets, the most famous one is the San Benedetto Market, which offers the opportunity to discover and capture the true spirit of Cagliari.

Cagliari is exceptionally equipped with fresh goods, especially fish, meat, fruit, and vegetables. In the city, there are five municipal markets useful for the daily shopping of foodstuffs. They play a crucial role in the Italian daily routine because they identify the local culture and its tradition.

Picture © Credits to Mara Noveni

The markets of Cagliari opened at the end of the 1950s, although in Largo Carlo Felice there was already a city market, which unfortunately was destroyed by a bombing during the Second World War. To date, more than 600 small businesses operate in the municipal markets of Cagliari.

Each market has its distinctive character; however, the market of San Benedetto with its 8000 square meters is the largest, the most known and the most popular. It is known that this market is the largest covered food market in Italy, as well as one of the first ones in Europe. In this place full of scents and colors, the merchants are very friendly without being aggressive or intrusive towards potential buyers.

Picture © Credits to Mara Noveni

Outside the market, there are some stalls selling clothes, household items, plants, and flowers. All around the square you can find typical shops, such as “La Spiga e il Grano,” specialized in bread and Sardinian sweets, "Pasticceria Piemontese" and "Bar Pasticceria Pirani," where you can take a pleasant break for breakfast, an aperitif or a sweet-tasting.

The Fish Market

On the ground floor, you can find, in addition to the traditional fish market products, goods, and foods processed locally, that can not be found elsewhere. Such examples are the red shrimp of Villasimius (excellence of the territory,) tasty and tender Mediterranean lobsters (which are among the best in the world), tuna or mullet bottarga, dried fish eggs used to season traditional Sardinian dishes, Carloforte's red tuna (which is precious and very expensive) and so on…

Picture © Credits to Mara Noveni

The first floor of the market

On the first floor, there are the butchery, fruit and vegetable, bread, sweets, and other local products. The colors of fruit and vegetables create a mix reminiscent of the rainbow and special attention to seasonal products, and zero-kilometer products is always a priority.  

Picture © Credits to Mara Noveni

The meat in Sardinia occupies a privileged place: first of all the pig, which is never missing from the holiday tables and anniversaries. Horse and lamb meat is also very popular. Even cheese occupies a prominent place in regional production and consumption: excellent Sardinian pecorino, fresh ricotta, fresh cheese, and dairy products are a crucial part in the Italian gastronomy.

In addition to traditional products, some stalls on the first floor offer organic products, honey, cooked take-away products & other local gastronomy options.

So, when in Cagliari, do not forget to take a walk around the San Benedetto area, to taste the real Sardinian life and flavors.

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