Contact

Guide to Shopping (Affordable) Milan: What to Buy

It’s pretty much undisputed that Milan is a shopper’s paradise, heaving with designer fashions, but I wondered whether Milan is also a souvenir shopper’s paradise. While I knew the fashion scene here is bar none, could I find anything unique here that I couldn’t be found in their Madison Avenue outpost? And just as importantly, was any of the shopping even remotely affordable?

navigili canal milan night boats shops walking view italy

I stayed in Milan’s Navigli neighborhood, known for its canals, lined with vendors, shops and restaurants.

Navigli canal dining restaurant milan

After shopping and touring all day, we loved coming back to Navigli and dining along the canal.

milan central station night clock view train italy

We used Milan as a base for daytrips in the area, taking the train out of Central Station.

I knew uncovering Milan’s unique, affordable local shops would be tricky. Nearly all the articles out there cover the high-end fashion shops, so I would have to do my research on foot. Since my visit to Milan would be brief, I wouldn’t have time to explore every nook and cranny of the city for the absolute “best of” shops. I had to make some executive decisions and pick a few areas to focus on, and hope for the best.

Luckily, I picked right and even in a short visit found fantastic shops and Milanese souvenirs. I divided my picks into three areas– first, the independent fashions I found along a few side streets in central Milan. Next, I explored a popular gourmet grocery store for regional Milanese food souvenirs. When visiting the Cathedral, I popped into Milan’s (and the world’s) oldest shopping gallerie for a walk-through. Finally, I hit a busy outdoor flea and food market for cheap finds and to get a hit of local culture.

Shopping Milan for Affordable Independent Fashion: Brera Design District

I took a chance and headed to the Brera design district area, hoping it would yield some interesting local shops. I lucked out when I found a local jewelry shop with a helpful owner– she pointed me to a few streets in the area with the types of shops I was looking for– via Pontaccio, Solferino and Fiori Chiari (near Piazza del Carmine). I also happened upon a side street with several artisan shops, Via Ciovasso. I recommend you do what I did– stroll the area and check out the shops for yourself.

I snapped some photos so you know what you might find– all the shops in this area (with exceptions noted) are what I consider mid-range affordable.

Via Ciovasso

Giosa, Milan

While the handmade alligator bags here were not exactly a bargain, you can stop in to watch artisans at work, pet the sweet dog, and pick up a keychain for only 30 euros.

Giosa Milan alligator leather

Artisans at work at Giosa.

Giosa alligator handbags milan leather handmade craftsmen

Giosa is still a family-run operation, where everything is made by hand.

vintage shopping milan fashion italy

On the same block you’ll find this beautifully curated vintage store, Urzi.

stone streets milan italy

Don’t worry about sore feet, even if you spend all day walking like we did. If you wear rubbers-soled shoes the stones in the road act like a massage for your feet.

Via Pontaccio, Solferino and Fiori Chiari

Tita Jewelry

We loved the subtle way the iconic Milan cathedral was incorporated into the jewelry at this local shop.

best shopping milan

Small local fashion boutiques were plentiful in this area.

Peck: Milan’s Best Gourmet and Local Regional Foods

Want to sample specialties from all over the Lombardy region without leaving Milan? Peck is your best bet. I read about this gourmet shop everywhere so I put it on my list. Peck is sort of like New York’s Dean and Deluca– fancy merchandise of the highest quality. Most of the products are made for (and specifically branded Peck) so you won’t find variety in brands but you will find a dizzying diversity of products.

DSC04295

Shopping Milan’s Gallerie

DSC04352

If you are a shopper or just love architecture, you simply cannot skip the world’s oldest shopping arcade at Milan’s famousĀ  . While I visited for the photos and to pay homage to Milan’s shopping culture, I wasn’t expecting to find anything both unique and affordable here (the rents I imagine are sky high). But I was drawn into Rizzoli bookstore and spent way too long browsing the regional cookbooks and photography books.

Shopping Milan’s Flea and Food Market at Santa Marta Mentana

Before you get excited about a spectacular flea market similar to those in Paris, I want to clarify: that is not what this market is (I didn’t have time to investigate more traditional flea markets, there may be some great ones). The flea market I visited was a jumble of mostly new, dirt cheap merchandise– some from Italy and some featuring Italian styles (but made in China). The other part of the market had fresh veggies, fruits, cheeses and meats– which depending on your home country and travel time, could make for some interesting souvenirs (or for snacks as you shop the area). It was a fun stop for us– my friend Amy bought several inexpensive and flattering sweaters that she wore on the rest of the trip and snacked on just-picked fresh figs from a vendor.

DSC04247DSC04276

Have you been to Milan? Share your best local finds!

Disclosure: I visited Milan as part of the Blogville program sponsored by Lombardy tourism.

 

4 Responses to Guide to Shopping (Affordable) Milan: What to Buy

  1. Shepard C Willner 05/20/2016 at 8:53 pm #

    All well good for clothing, accessories, jewelry, and shoes for you women; what about us guys? Anything affordable for us? How about chocolate? Are the strawberries and other fruits good for snacking? How about hams and cheeses? Books are interesting if they’re biographies. Did you get a chance to visit La Scala, the famous opera house? (No, I haven’t visited Milan, I only visit it in visitor’s guides.) Thanks.

  2. John @ Pretravels 05/21/2016 at 2:37 pm #

    Wow, this is quite interesting! I never though of Milan as being an affordable city. Especially when it comes to fashion, clothes and other things women like.

  3. Lydia 07/11/2016 at 2:58 pm #

    Just came upon this post – I love, love, love, the mint armoire in that vintage shop! I’m thinking it wasn’t for sale though. :\

    • Kristin Francis 07/28/2016 at 8:24 pm #

      It was a display but you never know! Yes the store was beautifully laid out.

Leave a Reply