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Milano doesn’t have one big and spectacular market, but it has many indoor or outdoor ones. Find them scattered around the city – with everything from fruit to vintage clothing.
Milan is well-equipped when it comes to shopping but don’t expect to find a large central market or iron and glass structures like in many other European capitals. Instead, it features a widespread system of neighbourhood markets, weekly fruit and vegetable stalls and a full calendar of markets along the Naviglio canal for a pleasant walk on Sundays. There is no single tourist attraction, and each address retains its authentic charm.
Fruit, vegetable and clothing stalls are set up in various neighbourhoods once or twice a week. Street parking is prohibited because traders begin to assemble their stalls at sunrise. Usually noisy and colourful, markets are the place for grocery shopping for cheap products, or finding high quality seasonal goods, and even some designer clothes. In the centre, visit San Marco on Mondays and Thursdays, and search for luxury brand shoes, delicious fruit and observe well-dressed women doing their weekly shopping. For a more urban experience, stroll through the vast market in Viale Papiniano, every Saturday till the evening.
Built in the first half of the twentieth century to be a form of supermarket, the buildings aren’t so attractive, at least from the outside. Today, many have disappeared and have been overtaken by shopping malls, but others still have a special charm, quality products and fruit and vegetables, so much that they are veritable gourmet destinations. The most beautiful one is found in Piazza Wagner. Fine fish and meat, the Elleesse cheese shop and Ceba gastronomy – it’s perfect for buying a gift, even for the pickiest gourmand. Overlooking the street, at Frutteto di Giovanni, you can also find truffles.
Local markets which were likely to disappear have been saved and converted into spaces for foodies offering street food, niche products and perfect lunch break and aperitif spots, rather than the weekly shopping. Milan is changing and new residents are finding new ways to enjoy old structures. On the Darsena in the Navigli district, the local market has been renovated and now houses food stalls from around the world, and especially the Macelleria Popolare, where you can have a delicious sandwich. Every day, they cook some traditional Italian recipes, from Milza alla Siciliana (Sicilian spleen sandwiches) to Florentine lampredotto (offal). There is also cheese by Resistenza Casearia, one of the best shops in the city. You can order your food and then sit along the water in the summer for an impromptu but delicious picnic.The Mercato del Suffragio is small and includes a pizzeria/bakery among the best in the city, owned by Davide Longoni, who is a true master of baking. Make your selections from the fish, cold-cuts and wine counters. Great for enjoying a relaxed lunch or a high-quality happy hour.
Sundays are famous for flea markets, and along the Naviglio, the calendar of events is quite busy. Every Saturday, along Ripa di Porta Ticinese, there is the Senigallia fair, the «Milanese flea market». It is only a pale reminder of when it was crowded with flower children in the seventies looking for Indian clothes and military items, but some stands still survive, alongside second-hand goods, books, records and vintage clothing. On Saturdays, at number 116 on the Alzaia Naviglio Pavese, small producers from Milan’s surroundings gather for the Agricultural Market. The last Sunday of each month is dedicated to the Antiques Market, with products ranging from original and expensive antique furniture to stalls selling interesting objects. In April and October, «Fiori e Sapori» – the flower and gardening market – has plants and seeds available for sale.