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The Cagli Media Project
Institute for Education
in International Media
Andrew Ciofalo, Director

At 6 a.m. on Wednesday morning the town of Cagli, Italy, is still shaking off the darkness. By 7 the town is bustling with the arrival of the many street vendors who make up the traveling market.

An hour later the streets are full of Cagli residents looking for a good deal. One can be found on every corner, as the market stretches its arms to enfold the town in its embrace. You can find everything from socks to kitchenware, eggplants to cheese wheels. Walking through the clothing section, you may not see the brands Italy is famous for, but you do see row upon row of pants, shirts, sunglasses, bracelets and even more if you venture to the far corners.

Donatella Gramaccioni has worked at the market for 30 years. Her stand is filled with clothing. She has a face wizened by time and hard work. She works early in the morning until noon, only to go home and fulfill all of the duties required of a traditional Italian housewife.

Carla's Fruit Stand

When asked where she finds the time to sleep she replied, “I’m like a robot,” although one wouldn’t know it to look at her. She does project a sort of tired enthusiasm for her work, the kind that comes only with years of experience.

As you continue to walk through the streets, your eyes and nose get used to the constant assault of colors and scents. The stands begin to seem a bit monotonous, but one man who has decided to break from the mold is Claudio Mariani. He sells socks and underwear in upturned umbrellas.

“I don’t want to be so boring,” said Mariani. “I want to be different.”

And he is. His stand is a delightfully humorous, a borderline outrageous breath of fresh air.

He flirts with a Cagliese shop owner saying, “I’m a lover!” and remaining imperturbable as she rebuffs his phony advance. Compared to the staid and purely functional displays next to his, Mariani’s umbrellas seem a whimsical wonderland of pure shopping pleasure.

Mariani at work

The market is not all fun and games. Things are serious when it comes to the price. “You give up the famous name for a better price,” said Mimmi Bartoli, a Cagliese shopper, “In a store I would have paid 100 euro for these pants; I paid 25 euro for them at the market,” Bartoli explained.

The influx of items from China has lowered the cost of almost everything in the market. It has also brought greater variety.

By the time the clock in the piazza strikes noon, everyone from the shoe vendors to the fried fish sellers have begun to pack their wares away. For some this is a more intense process than for others.

The convoy drives away in a cloud of dust. It leaves the town of Cagli a little more awake than before and with many closets bursting from the day’s great finds.

Web Design by Claire Davis
Photos by Ian Roeber
Video by Anne Wessell