Shopping in Italy – Land of Gucci, Versace and Dolce & Gabbana!

http://www.touritalynow.com/images/rome_street_with_cars.jpg Going shopping in Italy can be a magical experience. After all, the most beautiful fashions in the world come from this fascinating country. We’ve decided to share some secrets about the best shopping in Italy. Armed with this information you can add a little retail therapy to your travel itinerary and impress your friends at home with the latest designs from Gucci, Versace and Dolce & Gabbana. You’ll buy designer clothes here before they even reach American shores. Not only is Italy on the cutting edge of fashion, but it is also a land of traditional craftsman who still work with leather, glass, iron, paper and ceramics, the methods their ancestors developed. There’s literally something for every shopper in Italy.

Don’t let the weak dollar scare you. Italy’s latest discovery, the designer outlet mall, makes brands like Etro, Frette and La Perla affordable. These outlet stores offer recent designs for 30 to 75% off their original prices! Italy’s department stores – Coin and Rinascente – are found in most cities and another good choice for one-stop shopping . Don’t be afraid to bargain with proprietors in markets or small family-run shops. Ask for a discount when paying cash or buying large quantities.

Every city and region in Italy offers special local items. In Venice, look for Murano glass and Carnevale masks. Florence is home to the best leather, gold jewelry and decorative paper. Some Italian towns offer whole industries unto themselves. The town of Como in northern Italy is known for its silk. If you are looking for ceramics, visit the town of Deruta in Umbria and Grottaglie in Puglia. Want to buy Italian antiques? Head for the town of Arezzo in Tuscany, where a world-famous antiques market is held every month.

If you’re going into a designer store, be sure to look the part. Leave your sneakers at home – Italians still dress up to shop. Don’t plan your shopping extravaganza for a Monday as most stores don’t open until the afternoon. On other days most stores are closed for lunch between 1p.m. and 4 p.m., with some exceptions in the big cities. This affords your feet and credit card a well-deserved break from the rigors of serious shopping.

A Shopping Trip in Florence: The most prestigious shopping area in Florence is the area between Via Tornabuoni and Via Calzaiouli. Be sure to also stroll down Via Maggio. Keep an eye out for the Jewelers who set up shop along the Ponte Vecchio and don’t miss the wonderful open-air markets, especially the nearby Straw Market (Il Porcellino). San Lorenzo Market is another great place to browse for bargains. If you like lotions and sachets, go to the Santa Maria Novella store.

Florence Outlets: If you want to hit the incredible outlets outside Florence, you’ll need to hire a car and driver for the day or rent a car and drive yourself. The Mall is Italy’s coziest and most upscale outlet center with stores such as Gucci, Ferragamo, Bottega Veneta, Sergio Rossi, Tod’s and Yves Saint Laurent.There’s an excellent café there that serves as a great place to catch your breath and review your shopping list. About a half-hour away, housed in an unmarked warehouse is Space a.k.a the Prada Outlet. There’s a limit to how many customers can shop at one time here, so sometimes there is a wait to get in. Call for more information: 39-055-865-7755 (The Mall) or 39-055-978-9481 (Space)

Milan Shopping: Grouped in an area often referred to as the Golden Triangle, Via Montenapoleone, Via Della Spiga, Via Senato, Corso Venezia and Via Manzoni house every one of the designers you are looking for. Don’t miss the Armani Superstore. The Brera neighborhood is emerging as a must-see and home to small boutiques and artsy stores filled with the most gorgeous items all waiting for you to find them.

Milan Outlets: Serravalle Outlet Center is about 40 minutes from the city, and can be reached by a combination of train and taxi. Over 130 designer discount stores await you, including the venerable Prada. Discounts average about 50% year round. For more information: 39-14-360-9000; www.mcarthurglen.it

Shopping in Rome: The best designer shopping in Rome is in the area of the Piazza di Spagna and on Via Condotti, Via Frattina, Via Borognona and Via Delle Carrozze. Make sure you also visit the more moderately-priced stores near the Campo dei Fiori.

Shopping Outlets in Rome: Although just 10 miles outside of Rome, the taxi ride to McArthur Glen’s Castel Romano Outlet Center will make a dent in your shopping funds, so it is more economical to rent a car for the day. Why spend a lot on the ride when you can save that money for shopping?! When you get there you will find over 90 designer stores including Bruno Magli, Ferragamo, Frette, Fratelli Rosetti and Puma. Items are discounted 30-75% and the Outlet Center is open daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. For more information: 39 06 50 50050; www.mcarthurglen.it

Naples Shopping: While shopping isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you visit the city of Naples, you will find that it offers surprisingly good opportunities to spend your euros. Hit Via Calabritto for an upscale shopping experience to remember. You will find more affordable shopping and the true Naples experience nearby on Via Chiaia and Via Roma. If you are looking for antiques, head for Via Constantinopli near the old town (centro antico).

Feeling the need for some heavy duty shopping in a far away land? The great news is that we have been organizing amazing shopping tours in Italy for years and we are ready to help you organize yours.

Click here for expert help planning your dream shopping tour to Italy!