FLORENCE, Italy— At the Mercato Centrale, stalls of purses, scarves and various trinkets surround the massive complex while inside local meat and produce vendors thrive. Upstairs, tourists and locals alike can also find the Arà: è Sicilia granita stand for a refreshing, sweet treat. The Sicilian granita is Italy’s own rendition of the slushy, made of sugar, ice and many flavors, but it holds its weight like a sorbet. Granitas can be found all over Italy, but are more popular in southern regions such as Campania because of warmer climates.
The festive Arà stall can be found by the market’s interior stairway. The flavored shaved ice is made every morning and is stored in deep silver cylinders.
Granitas can be served with a brioche or cream for an extra charge. Generous samples of coffee, lemon, almond, strawberry or cherry granita are given on neon plastic spoons. I tested and chose the almond granita, as the employee sprinkled crushed almonds on top.
It reminded me of frozen almond milk with a slight crunch. I left the market and weaved through the stalls and tourists, mindlessly taking bites of my newfound dessert. The granita kept its consistency through the hot Florentine sun. The only time I took a sip was at the end, just to finish off the remnants of my first Italian granita.