Italy Travel Notes presents: by Christina Vlahova
When you go to Italy for the first time there is so much to see, so much to visit that you rarely find time for shopping. And I don`t mean souvenirs, but the typical shopping and that of stylish and high quality goods Italy is famous for. And you always have a choice to hop into any of the shops lining the small streets leading to any of the famous moments in any Italian city. And at least from experience, I can say, that even there where it is packed with tourist and you still can find things to buy you would be rarely disappointed with.
As for those travellers who prefer to shop the way Italians themselves do, to discover Italy though shopping as an experience and here are some tips and spots you might consider next time you are there:
Rome and Piazza del Risorgimento and via Cola di Rienzo:
Located in the vicinity of the Vatican and St Peter`s Cathedral and you can spend some hours wondering though the stores on both sides of via Cola di Rienzo, starting from Piazza del Risorgimento. Don`t shy away from looking at the stalls of the “marocchini“ and the Moroccans, who sell “original“ looking but still high quality hand bags, belts and sunglasses. Last time I checked they had started selling “brand-name“ shoes as well. And don`t forget to bargain and especially if you are talking to them in a language different than Italian. Half way through via Cola di Rienzo and if you feel like taking a sip of a real Italian cappuccino and do go into Castroni, which is both a shop for food articles from around the world and they serve coffee at the bar. Drink it the Italian way standing at the bar, anyway you don`t have another option there since the space is limited and often packed with Italians, which offers an unforgettable athmosphere.
Milano and via Monte Napoleone and via della Spiga
Now this definitely is not a typical place where Italians shop, at least not the average Italians and still it is an experience in itself. If you happen to be in Milan, do dedicate an hour or so to linger among the shop windows of via Monte Napoleone and the parallel via della Spiga. Even if you have no intention of buying anything at that price-range only looking at the shop windows is a meditation in itself and on the creativity, the colour combinations and the luxury in the world. And outside on the street you can catch a glimpse of those who do shop there and a different world and an amazing experience.
Bologna and the weekend market off via dell Indipendenza:
Unlike the shopping experience on via Monte Napoleone in Milan, if you happen to be in Bologna on a Friday or Saturday and you have some time to spend, do linger among the stalls of the big market off via dell Indipendenza. You can find anything there and from China produced sport shoes to high quality leather Italian shoes, from blouses from USD 2 to real fur coats, but all is a bargain. And you will mix up both with foreigners from all over the world who live in Bologna, as well as with Italians, who would always appreciate a bargain and do enjoy the marketplace shopping experience with its noise and colours and great deals.
Florence and the market of Florence
There is probably no better place to experience the colours of Italy and its shawls and scarves and the aroma of well-worked leather bags – than the market of Florence. You can find it a bit off the beaten tourist track, by reaching the piazza del Duomo and turning left on Borgo San Lorenzo. Then left again and you have arrived. Do try to resist the temptation to buy immediately and go to the end of the market, because the more you go to its end, the better the prices become. And again and do bargain and you will be surprised how willing sellers would be to give you a discount especially if you buy more than one item from them. I also find the Florence marketplace one of the best places if you are in for those typical Tuscan wine bottle cork caps with painted terracotta on top and beautiful, and they make a great gift to take to friends home.
You can`t really go wrong shopping in Italy, rather make sure you have enough time and some free space in your luggage!
More about Italy:
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