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As I was casting about for the next blog topic, I realized that, of course (facepalm), if you live in Florida you probably have out-of-state visitors, especially during the holidays. After the first couple of days, and especially after you’ve exhausted the amusement park possibilities, you might be at a loss as to what to do with them.
I’ve posted some very good ideas for daytrip destinations around the Tampa Bay area over the last year, such as:
- Hofbrauhaus, St. Pete
- Heritage Village, Largo
- Hillsborough River State Park
- Patel Brothers Indian Marketplace
- Ft. DeSoto Park
- Silver Springs State Park, including the Glass Bottom Boats
- Historic Lutz Train Station
- Magnolia Terrace Tea Room, Weeki Wachee
- Egmont Key Island State Park
- Airstream Ranch near Lakeland
- Florida Polytechnic University IST building
- Dade City, including the Pioneer Florida Museum
- St. Augustine, including Castillo de San Marcos Fortress, Gas Full Service Restaurant, and boat tour
- Sulphur Springs Water Tower
- Gateway Gallery and Emporium, New Port Richey
So, I’m continuing my series of interesting, low-cost, local Florida things to do with your visitors. And you may even enjoy them yourself.
This week: The murals at Mazzaro’s Italian Market in St. Petersburg. Located at 2909 22nd Avenue North, it’s an easy reach from I-275. When you turn off of 22nd to go around the building for parking, you can see some mural action right off the bat:
As you wend your way through the parking lot to the main door, you’ll see a plethora of painted murals covering the building. These murals have been created and added to over the years, and now they pretty much cover every inch of the outside of the extensive building.
You’ll notice the three-legged emblem on the front of the middle vehicle above. You’ll also see this symbol around the Mazzaro buildings and grounds. It’s called a trinacria or triskelion; it’s a symbol of Sicily. It’s related to the fact that Sicily is triangular, but there are some fascinating legends about the symbol, too. Click here for more.
I spoke to one of the owners who told me that one artist is currently commissioned to do the murals. She said that, over the years, several artists have been hired to do them, but there is only one at present.
There is plenty of statuary, too, to enhance the Old-World effect:
You even get to go to Venice, muralistically:
One of my favorite murals is the woman in the “second-story window” – I’ve been to Italy, and she is definitely watching from lots of second-story windows over there – in Germany, too! (But I think the artist was being very kind painting her so young and attractive here!) LOVE the “light” behind her in the mural; it definitely adds depth and realism to the image. Wow.
The sculptural details on the grounds truly remind me of Europe:
Finally you’ll reach the main door and go inside. Which is a WHOLE ‘nother world (and blog post)!
Definitely don’t limit yourself to the murals on the outside – it’s a true Italian market on the inside. There is a fresh produce section, a meat counter, a wine-and-cheese shop, a bakery, a coffee bar, a deli, and lots of dry goods on the shelves in between. Mazzaro started out as a coffee roasters, and you can still see them operating the roasting machines in the background.
Mazzaro always seems to be crowded no matter what time you show up, but that’s also part of the Italian charm. It’s a truly European experience. AND, they’ve recently opened a housewares store across the parking lot in a separate warehouse. It also has some unique decoration, including a few painted Fiats and some sculptures:
When I go there, I always feel like I’ve visited Europe. Even if you don’t buy a thing (and you will!), it’s worth the experience to visit.
Photo for No Apparent Reason: