Fuori Tutti – Mura, Mercatopoli and Mercatino dell’Usato

Patrick Bènard shares his weekly “Fuori Tutti” column, this week on the Le Mura di Lucca and on Lucca’s two great used goods stores.

Firstly, a clarification: Lucca’s walls are the “Mura” which does not translate to ‘the walls.’  Walls would be mure, while mura translates to fortifications. Until recently, I hadn’t understood why “mura” is feminine, while wall (muro) is masculine. The quick answer is that they are two completely separate words. 

There you have it, 6 weeks of Italian lessons condensed into one paragraph.

The benefits of venturing outside Lucca’s fortifications (to flog a dead horse: Mura) are many. Although the centro storico is why we are all here, it is missing many of the services found just outside, and when present, these services are almost always more expensive. For an American context it’s like shopping in Manhattan vs New Jersey.  

Approximately 10% of Lucca’s population lives inside the Mura, so it stands to reason that the greatest variety of shopping is found outside. Today, I will introduce some of you to the best second-hand shops within striking distance of the center.

Mercatopoli is a national franchise of consignment shops that offer a clean and well organized shopping experience for most of your domestic needs. Although primarily focused on clothing, it also carries a wide range of antiques, furniture, tools, and art. Pricing is set by the seller and is generally not negotiable, but some spectacular finds are still in order. https://lucca.mercatopoli.it/

Located at Via di Tempagnano, 180/A, Mercatopoli is within walking distance and well served by bicycle paths.  Larger items can be delivered for a reasonable fee. 

Selling your extras is also possible and the national website means a much larger exposure than any of its competitors. 

Mercatino dell’usato di Lucca  located at Via dell’Acquacalda, 192 is not as organized, not as conveniently located, and NOT as clean as Mercatopoli.  You might even say it’s dusty and its aisles are perilous but that’s the price to pay for its many many wonders. Mercatino is a large chaotic mess, but has so much to offer that we regularly risk lungs and limbs, to spend an hour perusing.  Large 19th century armoires, buffets and trunks are commonly found. Mid-century appliances, typewriters, and framed art abound. Delivery is €50 and very professional.  Take note that Mercatino has a pricing policy that drops its hosted items 25% after a month and 75% after a year. Given its vast size, you’ll likely find obscure items that will become the focus of your living space. 

Mercatino dell’Usato can feel perilous to life and lung, but holds many treasures.

Despite providing the world with wonderful furniture, lighting, and design, Italy (and Lucca in particular) are not well served on the retail level with stores that showcase these splendors. As someone trying to furnish a home here, it can be disheartening to realize that once again, you’re having to resort to Ikea.  Lucca’s second hand stores have filled that void for us. They have the added benefit of recycling items that might otherwise end up in the rubbish. Usato is the more interesting, longer lasting, environmentally friendly option that supports local businesses.

Happy hunting.

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