Friday, March 19, 2010


Venice flea market 4, originally uploaded by quercus design.
I love flea markets. (I also love yard sales, thrift shops, and eBay, but that's another post.) When I travel I always hunt out flea markets. (And grocery stores, but that's another post, too.) So when we went to Italy in 2007, ostensibly for my brother's wedding, the plane tickets I bought 'just happened' to land us in Venice the day before the Mercatino dei Miracoli, a twice-a-year flea market in the square and alleys around the church of Santa Maria dei Miracoli. I could have spent hours there, browsing through the wonderful things. Wait, I did!

It was the best kind of flea market, with a heady mix of antiques, vintage, and interesting junk. I've never found language much of a barrier. If you're just looking, you smile and shrug. If you want to buy, and the other person wants to sell, you don't need a lot of vocabulary to work it out.

The only flea market I've been to that could top this one (and trust me, I grew up in the shadow of Brimfield, so I know from flea markets) was the monthly market at Osukannon Temple in Nagoya, Japan. I was a student at the university there for one hellish and wonderful year in the late 1980s, and the market is still one of the best memories I carried home. (Better than Ise, you ask? Better than Nara? Well, um, it was much much livelier, and you could, you know, buy things, and even if I was an art history major I was still pretty much a teenager.)

Now I am planning a trip to India in November, and of course, if the first step is to read a guidebook, the second step is to look for flea markets. So far I am striking out. Markets abound, with all manner of freshly produced crafts and clothing and cloth and jewelry...but no flea markets, thrift stores, op shops, or the like. Hmm.

I wonder if there are grocery stores in India, or if they are part of this huge all-purpose Market that I am beginning to imagine?

Maybe I'll have to go to a museum.

Mercatino dei Miracoli

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