Perini at the Central Market of Florence, Italy
It is easy to get lost in the Central Market of Florence, Italy, but if you hug the perimeter of the ground floor level and resist all distractions, you will eventually find yourself in front of Perini. Surrounded by baskets of sunflowers and cascades of ivy, with legs of prosciutto hanging overhead, Perini presents a paradise for those with a particular passion for its primary product: cheese.
For more than fifty years, Perini has operated from the same small stand within the bustling Mercato Centrale, where Florentine residents and visitors alike come every day of the week (except Sundays, when the market is closed) to purchase a hunks of high-quality dairy from Perini’s extraordinary selection. Though the Perini family no longer run the business, the stand remains in good hands. One of Perini’s current co-owners, Andrea Prestanti, has been at Perini almost every day for the last twenty years. Before that, he worked for fifteen years at a small cheese shop much like Perini, which his family owned. It was there that he gained a hands-on education from his father in the craft of handling and selecting cheeses.
Today, the cheeses at Perini reflect Andrea’s expertise and his personal commitment to offering only the best Italian products. Andrea is constantly searching for new cheeses, which he carefully researches before adding to the Perini display case. Some come to him by recommendations from friends or customers, while others he finds at festivals that he travels all across Italy to attend.
At Perini you will see several French-style cheeses from Lombardy, one of Italy’s northernmost regions; however, most cheeses are made in Tuscany. The shop is especially well-known for its phenomenal assortment of fresh and aged pecorini toscani (sheep-milk cheeses). Andrea prefers to work with local dairy producers so that he can travel to their farms in person and get to know the people and animals.
Perini also offers a variety of cured meats, as well as jams and savory sauces, to pair with their cheeses, making it the perfect destination if you’re looking to prepare a picnic. For a true taste of Tuscany, stop by Perini to stock up on cheeses and meats, grab a bottle of wine on your way out of the market and head to one of Florence’s many parks or piazzas.