Whether you’re looking for local delicacies to share with your family, a novelty fridge magnet for your flatmates, or something special to commemorate your travels, the Culture Trip guide to buying souvenirs in Milan is here to help.
La Rinascente Design Supermarket
La Rinascente is the Harrods or Saks of Milan, bringing together luxury brands across all departments under one swanky roof. Given Milan’s design heritage and prowess, it is fitting that the department store has an entire floor titled the ‘Design Supermarket’ featuring big names in international design. If you are looking for an Italian memento, pick from many classic Italian design icons from the past 60 years: Morano glass by Venini, whacky kitchenware by Alessi, and so much more.
If you’re looking for a design piece and want something more unique, then head to Corso Italia where cult brand Studio Dimore has opened a collection showroom. The duo behind Studio Dimore is known for period-inspired maximalism and their work can be seen at important addresses all of the world, including stores for Fendi, Hermès and Aesop. You’ll be dying to take home all of the furniture, but there are many suitcase-friendly items on offer too – exquisite cushions, objets d’art, lamps and vases.
Corraini Editions is a publishing house and an art gallery, which now has several dedicated books shops in Italy, including one on via Savona in Milan. Its publishing branch was established to explore links between art, design, graphic design, publishing and photography, and the results are beautiful – every Corraini Editions publication is specially crafted by artists, illustrators and designers in close collaboration with the authors. The books are complemented by a small range of designer decorative objects and printed matter so it is a great place to find something special for your coffee table or walls.
Open since 1936, this café will give you an old-time feel for Milan | Courtesy of Pasticceria Cucchi
Panettone is a Christmas culinary tradition throughout Italy, but it originated in Milan, so it is here that you can find the original and the best. The tall dome-shaped loaf (or, some would say cake) is light and airy with a savoury buttery flavour. Candied fruit and orange peel bring moments of sweetness to it. Most panettone in Italy is produced on an industrial scale, but in Milan, there are still many artisan bakers and confectioners who bake the traditional recipe.
Pasticceria Cucchi has been a gourmand institution since 1936 and has the reputation of making Milan’s most authentic panettone. They keep to a classic, early recipe that has been perfected by three generations of the same family. You buy by weight, starting at 0.75 kg for 25 euro. The pastry shop fits the classic Milanese mould of also being a café and aperitivo bar so you can combine souvenir shopping with a coffee and indulgent pastry.
Whether you enjoy dining out at restaurants or sampling salami at local macellerias, everyone can agree that one of the best things about travelling in Italy is the food and wine. Peck is the ultimate foodie destination in Milan. It opened in 1883 as a shop for fine smoked meats and salmon, and has since become the most prestigious delicatessen in the city. The abundant and colourful counters spread across three floors, offering everything from chocolate to crustaceans. And then there is the wine cellar. The supermarket Eataly is a slightly more affordable alternative. Eataly originated in Turin in 2007 with the aim of distributing sustainably and responsibly sourced Italian produce. In other words, offering artisanal quality food at reasonable prices.
Visit either shop and return home with a delicious hamper full of regional specialties. For example, Lombardian sparkling wine, Franciacorta D.O.C.G, locally brewed ale, Sicilian bottarga (cured fish roe which is amazing grated on pasta) and Piedmontese Gianduiotto chocolates, organic cold press olive oil and any number of cured salamis. Obviously bear in mind how far you are travelling and whether you can bring the food items through customs!
If your visit to Milan falls on the last Sunday of the month, then head to the Navigli antique market. Amble 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. It is open roughly between 8am and 6pm, but some vendors start packing away at about 4pm.
You’ve got no room in your suitcase and no money left in your wallet, so you’re looking for the traditional novelty souvenir – a naff fridge magnet, a funny teatowel, a lewd postcard. As with all European cities, there is no shortage of these kind of shops in the vicinity of major attractions. If you are passing through Parco Sempione look for a tabacchi-type booth called Milan Leo Souvenirs, or when you visit Piazza del Duomo pop into Fiori Souvenirs.
Tourist souvenir stall in Milan centre | WikiCommons