Posted by: debrakolkka | December 26, 2010

Shopping in Italy

some of our Italian purchases

One of the fun things to do in Italy is shop.  Italian design is some of the best in the world.  The fashion is superb, the homewares devine – you really can’t leave without buying something, at least one little trinket to help remember your trip.

beautiful Busatti linen

When I talk about this with people intending to visit our apartment in Bagni di Lucca, the womens’ eyes light up and the gentlemen usually start to go clammy and need to leave the room.  This is a pity because mens’ clothing and footwear in Italy is wonderful and most chaps would find that a couple of suitable purchases could improve their image considerably.  With a tiny bit of effort they might become as dashing and handsome as the beautiful Italian men.

There are several outlets in Italy where you can go to buy last season’s fashion at half price or less.  These are excellent and it can be worth the trouble of finding them, for they are usually outside city centres.  Near Florence is The Mall, where you will find labels such as Valentino, Gucci, Marni, Armani, Fendi, Todd, Bottega Veneta etc all at half price or less.  North of Florence is Barberino, which has a huge range of labels at bargain prices.  There are buses from Florence to both of the outlets if you don’t have a car.

If this is not an option for you, shops in the towns and cities offer a broad price range.  I don’t really see the point of scouring Italy for a pair of cheap jeans, or a $5 shirt at the markets.  It would be far better to buy a couple of truly exquisite pieces that will remind you of your trip for years to come, and make your friends pea green with envy. 

Prada window in Rome, featuring Miranda Kerr

Roberto Cavalli

Marni in Rome

Giorgio Armani, Prada, Gucci, Etro, Robert Cavalli, Valentino, Marni and Max Mara (and lots more) are local labels and their fabulous shops are in all major cities.  You could do worse than to look in these shops for an excellent souvenir of Italy.  The Max Mara shop in Florence is worth going into, to see the beautiful frescoes, even if you don’t buy anything.  They won’t let me take photos in there or I would show you these gorgeous walls.

There are also good buys to be found in some of the better markets.  If you are not a label hound, good leather products can be found in Florence markets.  Lucca has excellent leather shops where you can find great bags and shoes.  Lucca has very good shopping in both fashion and homewares.  Forte dei Marmi, on the coast near Via Reggio, has a wonderful antique market every second weekend (roughly) where can be found well priced vintage costume jewellery.

early bakelite jewellery at Forte dei Marmi

Milan has the very best high fashion shopping in Italy.  The city centre is compact and easy to navigate.  If you are interested in fashion, a walk down Via della Spiga, Via Montenapoleone and Via S’ Andrea will have you thinking you have died and gone to fashion heaven.

10 Corso Como in Milan

In Rome the main shopping streets are around the Piazza di Spagna, Via Condotti, Via Babuino etc.  The streets around Campo dei Fiori and behind Piazza Navona also have interesting boutique shopping.  Via Coronari is one of the lovliest streets in Rome with its beautiful antique shops.

The sales in Italy begin around January 8 for the winter season and July 8 for the summer stock.  Lucky you, if you happen to be there at these times. 

Beautiful things are part of what Italy is all about.  Allow at least some time to browse the shops.  Even if you don’t buy anything, these things are works of art and should be seen.


  1. buy less, save the environment! and prefer now, unknown designers/firms, rather established corporations! xx

    • Thank you for your comments. I hope you have a very happy New Year.

  2. Hi Deb
    We have already discovered the respect that Italians have for beautiful things, and how overpriced our comparatively poor quality clothing is! The shop windows are works of art in themselves.
    Am looking forward to Lucca, Venezia, Florence and Milan to do just as you suggest.

    • Some of these shops are as beautiful as art galleries. The Max Mara shop in Via Tornabuoni, Florence is very pretty. The old frescoes were discovered when the palazzo was renovated. After a coffee at Giacosa – behind Roberto Cavalli – cross the street to Max. The clothes are lovely too.

  3. I Agree with you about men’s clothing. Except you have to be a jocky to fit anything!


    • You could be right there!

  4. I love the little bakelite people- you could never wear them without smiling, but I lust after the beautiful pottery.

  5. Oh Gee…, give me those Roberto Cavalli shoes now! Wonderful…, works of art in themselves these windows huh.

    • I don’t mind a bit of Roberto.

  6. Thanks for sharing Debra! It is good to know about those shopping places, in case we visit Italy:)

  7. Thanks for sharing Deb,

    I took your advice whilst staying in Bagni and went to Le Sorelle in Lucca for a look. I purchased some lovely superb quality place mats. My friends love them. I’m not big on shopping but I’ll tell you I could have gone beserk in that shop if I’d had lots of spare money.

    Cheers Judy

    • Le Sorelle is one of my favourite shops in Lucca. The family who run the shop are very nice as well.

  8. Clothes and shoes shopping in Italy drives me crazy as I am too big for everything, (Germany though, no problems there ;-))
    So many beautiful pieces!

    • The clothes in Italy are certainly tiny, because Italians are often quite small and they like to wear their clothes tight. There are a few labels that go to bigger sizes. I agree with you that Germany covers size ranges better. They are often much taller and bigger than the Italians.

  9. Hehe well you’ve sold me based on the shopping alone! 😛

    • I know you won’t be disappointed

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