Shopping in Italy is a wonderful adventure. From the elegant hush of designer boutiques to the raucous bedlam of a flea market, it’s an experience you’ll never forget. And you might even make some good purchases. Here’s the lowdown on the shopping scenes in Rome and Venice.
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Shopping In Italy
Italy’s hottest shopping draw is of course fashion. Milan is home of the country’s fashion industry, but Rome is the main Italian bazaar where the threads are put on the market. Here you can find the ultra chic garments of celebrated designers numbering in the hundreds. Quality is very high and the range of materials includes leather, cotton, silk and wool.
Other than garments, Italy is pre-eminent in the production of quality glassware, furniture, jewellery and porcelain goods.
Shopping In Rome
While Rome is overrun with international fashion boutiques, shopping in the Eternal City can still offer its own very Roman flavour. For the ultimate in windows shopping, the area around via Condotti at the foot of the Spanish Steps is the place to go. You can gaze at the creations of Armani, Prada, Versace, Dolce and Gabbana, Gucci and the other grand names in the elegant windows under the baroque or neoclassical facades. But remember that rents in Rome are sky high and so are the prices.
For antiques, head to Via dei Coronari. It’s a narrow pedestrianised street near Piazza Navona. The 500-meter long thoroughfare is lined with antique stores and galleries.
For the true Roman experience, you have to visit one of the city’s many markets. The Sunday morning flea market at Porta Portese is an overcrowded event where you can buy almost anything. It’s held on via Portuense south of the Porta Portese gate. Beware of pickpockets.
From Monday to Saturday, the morning market is in via Sannio, just outside the Roman walls by San Giovanni in Laterano. Here you can browse huge volumes of cheap clothes.
Shopping In Venice
Venice has long been a place of trade and remains a busy retail center. Though the big name fashion houses are well-represented, the joy of shopping in Venice lies in hunting down those local novelty items that evoke the spirit of La Serenissima.
However if it’s brand name fashions you’re after, Venice won’t disappoint. The island’s busiest shopping strip is the Merceri. It runs all the ways from the Piazza to the Rialto Bridge and almost all the celebrated Italian labels have boutiques here.
For other items, Calle della Mandola is the place to browse books and glass beads. And Campo Santo Stefano is the square for antique hunting. However, you can’t leave Venice without getting a souvenir carnival mask.
Carnival is the great event held every February but the masks are manufactured as souvenirs all year-round in Venice’s small workshops. You can get everything from full size porcelain masks with a hefty price tag to inexpensive ornaments such as silver earrings in the shape of carnival masks.
The other great specialty of Venice is glassware from the island of Murano. These include such items as vases, clocks and wine bottle caps. And you can also get decorative items such as rings, bracelets or pendants made out of the delightful colored glass. These can be very inexpensive and make great souvenirs of Venice. Other delights special to Venice include porcelain dolls and Burano lace work.