On the perfect market day you might sample new types of local cheese and enjoy the scent of freshly picked tomatoes. Perhaps you pick up a beautiful antique at a bargain price, or maybe you finally find that retro jacket you’ve been hunting down for months. But how many times have you visited the local market only to be disappointed? You were promised stalls selling vintage clothes and rare vinyl records, but instead you find granny slippers, amateur handicrafts and some vegetables. Here are the only markets you need to know in Milan.
East Market, Lambrate
Hip happy shoppers at East Market | Photo: Adrian Sydney Courtesy East Market
Located in Lambrate, a periphery but hip and creative district on the rise, East Market is definitely the coolest market in Milan. Over 100 stalls are located in a vast industrial building formerly a metalworking company in World War II. Vendors are not restricted to a particular bracket of produce, so there is great variety. There are epic vintage garms but also new casual-wear brands; antique and retro furniture, but also new design pieces; refurbished bikes, records and jewellery, and the list goes on. What unites the stalls at East Market is a cool aesthetic – you won’t find any sad-looking craft items here. There is also a great selection of international food stalls and a small bar area so you can have a drink and listen to the live DJ set. It’s worth dedicating an afternoon for your visit. At the moment there are no fixed dates, so check their website or social media to find out if there is a market on during your trip to Milan.
On the first Sunday of each month, Navigli Grande is transformed into a thriving antique market. Amble (or hustle) along the canal side, which is crowded with stalls selling everything from traditional white linen tablecloths with lace embroidery and antique glassware, to mid-century lamps and vintage designer Italian skirt-suits. The canals are also lined with bars and restaurants so you can stop for lunch or coffee at any time. It is open roughly between 8am and 6pm, but some vendors start packing away at about 4pm.
This wholesale flower market is worth mentioning for residents of the city. It might not be particularly central but it’s worth the trip because you can find all kinds of flowers, plants and pots at discounted prices. Whether you are looking for striking floral decorations for an event, cut flowers for your kitchen table, or vogue indoor plants, you will be able to find them here. Usually the preserve of commercial buyers, it is open to the public every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday 10am–12pm.
This is a permanent indoor market selling second-hand goods of all genres. Because Mercatino Usato buys goods as well as accepting donations, the quality of the products is typically very high. It’s like a giant, classy Oxfam. Open Monday–Friday, 10am–1pm and 3.30 pm–7.30 pm, and Saturday and Sunday, 10am–7pm.
In addition to the more specialist markets listed above, most neighbourhoods in the city have a standard grocery market where locals go to do their weekly food shop. If you are self-catering during your stay in Milan these markets are a lovely way to buy your cooking ingredients. It’s a typical Italian market set-up with vendors selling delicious fruit and veg, meats, seafood, cheeses and bread, alongside flowers, cheap kitchenware and even cheaper lingerie. Most will also have clothes and shoes on offer but they are nearly always poor in quality and taste. Second-hand cashmere also makes a regular appearance. Three major markets are: Mercarto Viale Papiniano (every Tuesday and Saturday, metro Saint Agostino), Mercato Rionale Fauché (every Tuesday and Saturday, metro Gerusalemme), Mercato Via Crema/Via Piacenza (every Saturday, metro Porta Romana).
Don’t waste your time visitng Fiera di Sinigaglia. A quick Google search will tell you that this is a great flea market, but in reality it’s mostly junk. It is in the same location as the monthly antique market in Navigli but is smaller and there is hardly anything desirable on offer. Every Saturday.