Il Verziere

There are many food markets in Milan. But I will limit the discussion to the classic Verziere (vegetable market). The Verziere has three main centers. Corso di Porta Vittoria. The place known as “Il Verziere.” And Piazza di Santo Stefano. On Corso di Porta Vittoria vegetables, rather than fruit, are unloaded, distributed and sold wholesale. On the square with the column, fruit and vegetables are sold retail. At Piazza Santo Stefano meats are sold, including game, of quadrupeds and bipeds. Then there are fresh and salt water fish, seafood, oysters, truffles and mushrooms.

It is impossible to get an accurate idea of what the Verziere is like at dawn if you have not actually seen it […] It is the most lively point of activity and preparations, a point that comes back to life every day of the week, except for Monday. The operations begin in the summer at about 2:30 AM, in the winter at about 5:00 AM. When the streets no longer echo with song and the card games have come to a conclusion in the taverns, when the habitués of theaters, clubs and cafes who dwell in the neighborhood of Porta Vittoria have made their way home, an hour of solemn silence ensues in the three markets, of profound quiet, until one starts to hear the sound of the first carts of the vendors, from afar, arriving loaded down with produce. The bustling, ragged, feverish spectacle then on display on the square and on Corso di Porta Vittoria, before all those mountains of cabbages, carrots, celery, lettuce and artichokes take form and then diminish little by little, scattering across the whole city, is truly striking. One can hear uttered more exclamations and oaths and far from parliamentary expressions from four to seven in the three markets than during all the other hours of the day in the rest of the city. At every moment some greengrocer with his cart is obliged to shout at those who do not realize their horse or donkey is about to run smack into him. A big umbrella capsizes; an impacted stall collapses, heaps of turnips and cabbages tumble and fall. Curses are shouted skyward; the culprit takes offence, raises his fists, answers back and goes on his way, grumbling.