If your stopover in Milano includes the last Sunday of the month, amble down to the Bohemian Navigli district for the Mercatone dell'Antiquariato del Naviglio Grande--one of the largest outdoor antiques markets in Italy.
Strung along both sides of the canal, more than 400 vendors set up booths to sell artifacts and bric-a-brac, furniture, books, toys, jewelry, clothes and more collectibles. On market day, the line-up of shops, cafes and art studios in the neighborhood are open for browsing and for taking gelato, lunch and refreshment breaks.
Art deco collectors, and lovers of vintage posters and vintage clothing make great finds at this market. i bought wonderful, still brightly colored, early 1900 magazine advertising pages for about $20 each, which I gave for gifts and framed when I got home (see the fabulous Art Deco print below). Murano glass chandeliers, old kitchen and wood-working tools, jade, putti, old silver--you could wander all day.
Tips: the market was fully open by 10:30 a.m. My advice is to cruise through in the cool morning, and return to your favorite vendors to bargain in the afternoon when they are open to reducing inventory. I had good luck w/this strategy, except when I went back to bargain for a gorgeous amethyst bracelet which was long gone!
Lonely Planet has one of the best sites for info and resources related to Milan.
Karen Misuraca is the author of several guidebooks, including Backroads of the California Wine Country; Backroads of the California Coast, and the newly released 8th edition of Fun with the Family Northern California. Check out Karen's new iPhone app, California Coast North.