As Milan is currently preparing to gradually emerge from the recent coronavirus spell, Italy’s second largest city is currently cocooning. This wonderful city nevertheless retains all of it’s charms. Especially during trying times, farmer’s markets prove themselves to be imperative to the well being of the population. Open air marketplaces play a slightly more instrumental role in the daily lives of European countries, compared to their North American counterparts, although as recently detailed in an SOS article, farmer’s markets around the world are gaining in popularity. States of Splendor was in Milan this past fall for a shooting on a perfect day at one of the most significant of beautiful Milan’s market’s.
Viale Papiniano market, in downtown Milan, Lombardy, Italy, is both one of the largest and oldest market of the city. Having been there for generations, it has evolved over it’s many eras. Today, it is a combination of both traditional Italian and international product stalls, catering to a very cosmopolitan clientele. One can find an abundance of Italian fresh products but there its also a huge section devoted to non edible goods, mainly clothing, both new and vintage. People shop for clothing there mainly for bargains and rare vintage finds.
What makes Viale Papiniano Market one off the most fascinating places to visit in Milan is the fact that this is the place where you are the most likely to find products that are truly intended for the Milanese (unlike tourist shops), and best of all, are absolutely unique to Italy, and sometimes to Lombardy itself. The varieties of produce its impressive, visitors are often astounded to learn there are so many local variants and varieties of fruits, vegetables, grains, fish and meats. Many prepared products are also available on the spot and it its thus possible to snack in situ.
A bountiful place, filled with action
The one thing all foreigners notice while arriving on the spot is the sounds. This market has so many vendors calling out the qualities of their precious inventory. Italian is well known to be a “singing” language, meaning that it’s tones fluctuate a lot and is very expressive. It is wonderful to be immersed in the lively conversations taking place between the stall keepers and their clients, there can be no mistake as to where this location is. Each stall is filled with immense color. Unknown varieties of produce offer a spectacle of intriguing discovery. It is also interesting to look at the locals who each have their habits of coming to their favorite vendor, or have their own way of verifying the quality of a specific tomato or melon of their choice.
Wherever you look, there is something to be revealed, in this marketplace. Under the shade of the stalls, one cannot help but be tempted by the freshly made pastas with so much different varieties, sometimes previously unknown. Aromas of cooked dishes also fill the place, and therefore, to be there on an empty stomach is quite a serendipitous experience. So many prosciuttos, salamis, cheeses, and countless other tantalizing specialties are available on the spot. For any gourmet, it is a real pilgrimage of culinary splendor.
The presence of terroir’s signature
Although Milan’s famous Cathedral, Scala theatre and other such sights are a must and famously beautiful, Viale Papiniano market offers something others do not. Along with good Milanese restaurants, it is a place where we can find true terroir products. These are the ones which have been developed for countless generations in their respective ecosystems, and evolved to reflect their immediate environment’s unique characteristics. They are present in the form of unique fruits, mushrooms and vegetables, as, for example a Piedmontese truffle, or a superb fresh Apulian fig. Terroir products are even more represented ion the form of cheeses and charcuteries. Every authentic charcuterie has it’s own characteristics. It has been made using particular methods transmitted generation to generation, for centuries. To taste one of these products is to enter a whole story, and be able to actually feel it with one’s physical senses.
The countless varieties of cheese are such that there is always something to learn from the person at the cheese stall. Lombardy has exceptional varieties of cheeses made from sheep’s milk, goat’s milk, and cow’s milk, with a strong presence, of course, of the traditional buffala cow’s milk cheeses. Many of them are difficult to import, and thus, you will, for sure, find a variety that is not distributed in your city, even if you live in New-York, Paris, Rio de Janeiro or London.
A culturally enriching visit
As the world awaits to gradually be able to travel again, Milan will definitely be on many people’s lists. Lombardy was heavily affected by the worldwide epidemic that hit. Northern Italy will recover, sooner than later, and with diligent work, Viale Pampiano will be once again filled with activity. Even during the height of the lockdown, this market continued to serve it’s purpose and feed it’s people, thanks to brave food producers, vendors and distributors. When tourists at last return in a more sizable way to Italy’s business hub, let it be known that one of the best ways to catch the flare and and uniqueness of splendid Milan, is to make a special trip to this simple but enchanting place: Viale Papiniano Market.
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