Got milk? Discover all things milk near Aviano in Italy

Photo by Annie Spratt
Photo by Annie Spratt

Got milk? Discover all things milk near Aviano in Italy

by Candice Barber
Stripes Europe

When you think of Italy, it’s easy for the mind to wander first to images of rolling hills in Tuscany, romantic canals in Venice and the summery seascapes of the Amalfi Coast. Usually, the palate overtakes the brain and floods the mind with foodie-centric thoughts: the pizza, the mozzarella and the gelato, oh my! 

The basis of so many quintessential Italian delicacies – from Caprese salads to pistachio gelato to pizza Margherita – is one very simple ingredient: milk. Fresh milk, or latte in Italian, is so indicative of Italian cuisine, it’s remarkable that a hearty glass of milk isn’t on the list as the national drink. Considering the pervasiveness of this star ingredient, it is no surprise pioneering Italians have incorporated modern-day technology with old-world tradition in the form of milk vending machines.

Northeast Italy’s Pordenone area is chock-full of convenient milk vending machines that take the middle man out of the moo-industry. Think of it as a sort of milk, cheese, and butter ATM. Below are three favorites within 30 minutes of Aviano.

If you want to see exactly where your milk comes from, visit Vendita Latte Fresco in the quaint commune of Budoia. As you turn off Strada Provinciale 31, you’ll immediately think you’ve ventured onto private property. Pass the entrance for a neighboring organic farm and continue down the driveway, past the big red house on your right. As you follow the driveway towards the barn, you’ll know you’re in the right place when you see the vending machine tucked under the awning of an old farm building. Ample parking is available, and though all signs are in Italian, with the help of Google Translate, it is easy to figure out how to operate these vending machines. 

Off to the left, there’s a vending machine that features fresh-from-the-cow unpasteurized whole milk. Don’t despair if you’ve left your milk bottle at home. There’s a separate vending machine that sells plastic one liter bottles for 25 euro cents. One liter of milk costs only 80 euro cents, but you’ll want to make sure you have the exact coins in order to receive change.

A third vending machine at this location showcases other local delights: Montasio cheese, ricotta, mozzarella and block butter. Regardless of what you purchase, try to not leave without visiting the calves and dairy cows in the nearby open-front barn. When I visited this spot later in the evening, an older gentleman with a tattered shirt and weathered hands was returning from the barn with milky buckets in tow, having just fed the calves their dinner. I was very proud to purchase his mozzarella that evening!

Blink and you might miss “Il Mio Latte” as you drive on Via Pietro Zorutti and through the winding roads of Fontanafredda. It’s easy to get distracted by the lush vineyards and stone-walled estates in this otherwise industrial area, but this dairy vending machine is not one to be missed. 

“Il Mio Latte” is similar to Budoia’s famed milk dispensary, with a few differences. First, it’s BYOJ (Bring Your Own Jug), but this isn’t a problem for the milk aficionados who frequent this mainstay. The ambiance is more rustic – with a tattered and faded banner upon which you can just barely make out the drawing of a happy cow, signaling you’re in the right place. One liter of milk costs one euro. Fresh eggs plus goat’s milk ricotta are welcome supplements to the adjacent vending machine, and most prices are hand-written with a black Sharpie.

Maniago is known around the world for its superior hand-made knives, yet not many people know about the downtown milk vending machine that is oh-so-memorable. In a tree-lined parking area between Via Regina Elena and Via Vittorio Emanuele, you’ll find a milk dispensary that feels more urban than farm-like, situated just a few blocks from Piazza Italia, the town square.

This charming shack is shaped like an old log-house and painted from front to back in distinctive Holstein black-and-white cow spots. Easy-to-read signs, boasting “open 24 hours a day,” beckon visitors to learn more. One liter of fresh milk costs one euro, and bottles are available for an additional cost of 20 euro cents. Though this location doesn’t feature other products like cheese and butter, patrons can buy milk bottles on-site. You can also bring your own containers; just make sure the bottles are wide-neck, a requirement for the milk machine. If a problem arises during your transaction, just call Fabio, whose number is listed on the door.

A Few Recommendations:

  • Milk purchased from vending machines in Italy is generally strictly controlled. However, for added safety, use caution and boil raw milk before consumption.
  • Raw milk has a shorter shelf life than milk from the commissary or local grocery store, so it must be consumed more quickly than pasteurized milk. 
  • Cream can sometimes separate from the milk, so shake your container to mix your milk – or if you’re feeling adventurous, spoon the cream into your morning coffee for a delicious treat.

Though many swear by the wholesome taste and purported nutritious benefits of drinking raw milk, please keep in mind the potential dangers and serious health risks that can be posed by drinking unpasteurized milk. See this Consumers’ Resource from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for more information.


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