Junk markets. Flea markets. Garage sales.
In my opinion, the best souvenirs are a local food and things that talk about the culture of the place. What could be more authentic then everyday objects from houses of locals, moreover with 40-50 year story? Flea market – the best place to look for such things.
There is some kind of magic In this, against which it’s not possible to resist. The thing that served to previous generations and still works, in excellent condition, causes respect to the creator, the engineer, the user that saved it, the seller, that cleaned and repaired it. For some reason I always want to give a second, and maybe a third chance to these things.
Me and Leone settled down in vintage apartment in the center of Milan, with high ceilings, wooden windows, walls of sand and pebbles, old ceramic, about which I will write a separate post. The apartment – a paradise for a pack rat like me, here any object of junk “relics” any place you will put is in its place. Considering these conditions I couldn’t resist an impulse to visit one of the largest flea markets that I’ve ever seen.
Milan holds several big flea markets, all one / two days. Large flea markets are interesting because sellers do only this professionally, they know everything about the junk, restore “antiques” and they know in what buyers will be interested. Because of this there are mainly really sensible specimens are represented, and quite a bit rubbish, but then there are two disadvantages for me – a lot of antiques (I’m not a fan) and a lot of replicas (look like the old, but new inside, no romance). Usually I prefer small flea markets. Rental cost of places are cheap and sellers are not very professional, they are selling everything they could find, sometimes frank rubbish in which you should insistently try to look for treasure, but this is actually the pleasure. But the biggest flea market in Milan on the Grand Canal (Naviglio Grande) is legendary, it worth to go there just for the atmosphere, and likely weekend when it took place was clear and with beautiful sunny weather.
Flea market on the Grand Canal is held every last Sunday of the month and is called Mercatone dell’Antiquariato. For this market they close traffic in the whole district, and the entire channel and small streets around are filled in with the sellers of vintage furniture, clothing, household items, antiques, coins, stamps and other treasures.
The plan was to go to the flea market in the morning, and to drive to the festival of street food for lunch. Of course, in the morning we overslept (Sunday!), and got out of the house only for lunch. Oh, those beautiful days when the autumn is warm and sunny. In Moscow these days are maximum a week. But in Milan it is possible to enjoy them a couple-three weeks. We took bikes and rode to the festival to have a lunch.
Festival street food is a field with 40-50 stalls offering mainly Italian cuisine, there are many of Southern cuisine representatives, a large number of manufacturers of home-brewed beer. I must pay tribute to the Italians (in my understanding they are conservative in food too much), the biggest queue was to the Greek pavilion. Asian cuisine almost not presented, giant pavilion with American fast food, hung round with flags, incredible sandwiches with octopus, arrosticino.
Me and Leone took couple of home-brewed beer and stand in two long queues: for the sandwiches with octopus, it was difficult to pass them, because these very octopuses were so attractively fried on grill. They were simply cut into pieces, sprinkled with lemon juice and put into the bread. The second kiosk, which we didn’t missed, was with arrosticino, skewers of small pieces of lamb.
Well-fed and in a playful because of beer mood we went to the flea market.
Our visit began with the edges of the market, where space is usually cheaper and stuff is easier, but it was clear already here, that these comrades don’t have simple stuff at all.
Firstly furniture. Unbelievable representatives of 50s-60s, restored, usable, chairs of all types and design, incredible tables, chairs, cabinets, lamps. What to say if there is conducted the world’s largest furniture exhibition in Milan. Milan is a place of power for furniture manufacturers.
Then the objects of Italian life. Here I didn’t know where to look: the plates, pots and pans, keys and locks, coffee pots-vases-pitchers, a paradise for me!
And sellers who specialize in one thing. Sunk deep into my mind a large place of the old chronometers and sorted by a small box clock-faces, hands, buttons, chains, and a small space with retro lamps.
But to go to the flea market and do not set goals to yourself is a bit boring, because it is necessary to look for something to elbow deep into boxes with old utensils. I’ve been looking for a small furniture handles. And it turned out that the we need them in house, because someone twisted knobs out of our bed, and we need something to replace them. I have three, and, unfortunately, still looking for the fourth. And also all the spades-mixers in the kitchen needs some glass to put them in, we decided to look for. Nothing was found, but the next time we will find them, is not a big deal.
However without doing some shopping it’s boring too. I do not like the decorative stuff, which you can’t use in everyday life, but in this dish felt in love at the first sight! And Leone went home with nice Choo-Choo twins with small trains. Everybody is happy!
We didn’t walk around the whole market, too huge. Now I’m planning to find something smaller and more rubbish, the handle is still needed.