Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Christmas 'Fiere' in Milan

 Part of the Fiera degli Obej Obej within Sempione park

On Sunday I did a full-on raid of Milan's two Christmas 'fiere', or markets - Well, ok, one of them isn't really a market, it's more of an exhibition.... First I trekked over to Rho, another 'comune' to the west of Milan, to go to the Artigiano in Fiera, and then in the afternoon I went to the Fiera degli Obej Obej in Milan city centre.

The Artigiano in Fiera is held every year at the beginning of December at the exhibition centre in Rho, and this year it runs from the 4th-12th of December. It features exhibitors from all over the world, with the halls ('padiglioni') divided into exhibitors from the various regions of Italy, Europe, and the rest of the world. You'll see a bit of everything there, from jewellery, clothes, ornaments; to even stands selling furniture, heaters and staircases! And of course, there's a lot of food from everywhere - meat, cheese, desserts, chocolates, sweets... I was wandering around one of the Europe halls when I my belly started rumbling, and I decided to head back to the Germany/Austria area to get some lunch, I didn't fancy a lot (though I was tempted by the idea of a Currywurst I saw at one of the food stands!) so I got an apple brezen - very nice! I didn't spend very long there, the crowds were a bit overwhelming, and early afternoon I got back onto the metro and headed back into Milan.

... and hit the Fiera degli Obej Obej. This is the traditional Christmas market of Milan, and this year it's held on part of Foro Buonaparte (which was partly closed off to traffic) in front of the Sforzesco Castle, and also within the Sempione park. The Obej Obej market's held around the date of Milan's patron saint, Sant Ambrogio, which falls on the 7th of December; and this year it runs from the 4th-8th of December.

The market's named after an expression in dialect that Milanese children said when visiting the first ever market which was held - 'Obej! Obej!' (also written 'oh bej oh obej' and 'oh bei oh bei') means 'O belli! O belli!". The roots of the current market can be traced back to 1510 when a papal envoy visited the city and gave gifts to the children, which are then said to have reacted to the presents by saying 'obej! obej!'.

There are over 400 stalls at this year's market, and you'll find all sorts of great ideas for Christmas gifts, retro decorations for the house, treats for pets, and toys - and nice things to eat of course!

The Artigiano in Fiera can be reached on the MM1 (red) line, direction Rho Fiera (so don't get on the Bisceglie train!), and you can buy a return ticket for the duration of the Fiera that costs 4 euro to/from any station within Milan's city limits, for a journey of a duration of max 105 minutes. Just follow the crowds as you leave the metro stop! Entrance is free. http://www.artigianoinfiera.it/eng/visit_home.php (English)

The Fiera degli Obej Obej is on part of Foro Buonaparte and within Parco Sempione, also going off some of the streets around the park. The nearest metro stops are Cairoli on the MM1 (red) line and Cadorna on the MM2 (green) line.

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