Wherever you go in Italy, you can’t miss visiting a street market. Picture stalls laden with fruit and veg, boisterous sellers and great fashion bargains, and you’re not far off the truth. Milan has some amazing markets too. Here we’ve collected our seven favourite Milan street markets, one for each day of the week – minus Sunday, but we have two for Saturday!
On Saturday morning for as long as I can remember, my mum has gone shopping at the local street market. She would go out with her trusty red shopping trolley and return an hour or so later, trolley filled to the brim with fruit and veg in brown paper bags, juicy olives and packets of cheese and cured meat. Saturday lunches were always the tastiest of the week – a selection of the freshest market produce. Parma ham and ripe gorgonzola on bread, olives straight from the bags (when my mum wasn’t looking) and a fresh salad. Heaven.
Every neighbourhood in every Italian city has a weekly street market. Chances are that at least once a week (or possibly more) you’ll be able to find one if these markets, not far from where you’re staying – or living, if you’re a local. From Monday to Saturday, that is. Sunday is rest day.
What’s special about Milan street markets?
Street markets in Milan have different features and different personalities, depending on the area. Markets in the centre are visited by well-heeled ladies wrapped in furs, browsing for cashmere and designer shoes. Further out from the centre, you’ll find Indian stallholders selling exotic fruit and hawkers with fake Gucci bags.
But the bottom line is the same; you can buy the usual fruit and veg, olives, deli products, fish and roast chicken, as well as some ‘specialty’ foods – during our wanderings we found dedicated stalls for freshly-ground polenta, salted cod and goat gorgonzola. Other than food, you’ll find fashion, from mass-produced polyester junk to Prada shoes of past seasons.
Here’s a week around the best Milan street markets – naturally biased towards the east of the city, as that’s where I grew up and where I live now. If you know of any other good markets I haven’t featured, let me know in the comments!
Monday – via San Marco (also on Thursday) – M2 Lanza
Just around the corner from the swanky Brera neighbourhood, this market is one of the best in town for cashmere, with the aforementioned well-to-do milanese ‘sciure’ (dialect for ‘ladies’) snapping bargains between one luncheon and a spot of shopping in the centre. In line with the fancy neighbourhood, everything looks more ‘upmarket’ compared to regular street markets. Fishmongers sell marinated fish kebabs, the roast chicken man also has sesame-crusted fish fingers and there’s a cake design stall. Fashion lovers will definitely dig the vintage stalls.
Tuesday – via Fauche (also on Saturday) – Tram 12/14
If San Marco is famous for cashmere, via Fauche is the go-to destination for designer clothes and shoes. If you’re careful and know how to haggle (not to much though, this is Milan, not Marrakesh) you can snap up some real bargains. Fashion items are usually from past seasons or sample collections. For some wonderful cheese, head to Piero e Luca, present in via Fauche for over 30 years, selling over 100 cheese varieties with an eye on the seasons.
Wednesday – Piazzale Martini – Tram 12
In a beautiful square near Corso XXII Marzo, this is your friendly, unpretentious neighbourhood street market. Some interesting finds include the Abruzzese brothers, purveyors of specialty fruit and veg, some cute children’s clothes, vintage and a second hand books stall. The market in piazzale Martini is also famous for its textiles, in case you’re after fabric for curtains, blankets, duvets or wall hangings.
Thursday – via Ampere – M2 Piola
Another friendly local market, in a quiet street near Piola metro station. It’s popular with students from the nearby university, and it offers the usual array of fresh food (with some interesting farmer stalls) and cut-price fashion. I recommend it because it’s perfectly located to get some picnic stuff and head to Piazza Leonardo just around the corner and have lunch sitting on the grass in one of Milan’s prettiest (and lesser-known) squares.
Friday – Largo V Alpini – M1 Pagano
This market is near via Pagano, one of the most beautiful residential streets of Milan. Clientele is a mixture of ‘sciure’ in furs and maids shopping for the sciure that couldn’t be bothered going out. There are three great cashmere stalls and some delicious-looking fruit and veg, as well as a couple of fancy fishmongers and the usual roast chicken man. Fashion is nothing to write home about. Largo V Alpini is small, and for this reason there are no more than a couple dozen stalls – perhaps mot your best bet if you’re looking for serious shopping, but a great option if you don’t like crowds.
Saturday – viale Papiniano (also on Tuesday) – M2 Sant’Agostino
For decades, this was THE market to go to in Milan, frequented by as many tourists as locals, selling the very best food and the fanciest fashion. Quality has decreased since its heyday and its popularity has turned it into a touristy destination, but it’s still well worth a visit due to its vicinity to the city centre and the wide variety of products on offer. Not to mention, there are still bargains to be had. Some locals complain of the increasing presence of international stallholders, but if you ask me it adds to the colourful market experience.
Saturday – via Valvassori Peroni – M2 Lambrate FS
Look no further – this is THE BEST MARKET IN MILAN!!!! Perhaps I’m biased because it’s my local one, but I do believe it has everything a market needs – great food, some cool fashion stalls and a friendly, convivial atmosphere. Located near the Lambrate FS metro stop, this market is very easy to navigate.
On the left hand side you’ll find food, on the right fashion and all the rest. Anna sells great knitwear, and in summer there’s another great stall with beachwear and kaftans from Positano. Food wise, the first deli stall is one of the very best in the whole of Milan; Maurizio and Sonia, selling cheeses, meats and fresh pasta among other delicacies. Further down, there’s a goat cheese stall, some great olive sellers and Fratelli Abruzzese with their top fruit and veg.
If you’re staying in Milan for a while, or if you’re renting a flat, ditch supermarkets and shop at street markets for better quality and bargain prices on most products. If you’re looking for some more budget tips, check this post about 10 free things to do in Milan.