Shop-a-holics know that there is no “wrong” moment to indulge in a shopping spree, and yet there are moments that feel particularly right. The holidays are one such: the festive spirit inspires us to treat ourselves and buy gifts for our loved ones. Having acknowledged shopping as one of life’s pleasures, we have recently started incorporating it in our incentive and business travel experiences to a higher extent than before. Rather than simply scheduling half a day off for shopping within the context of a conference or team building event, we started offering our attendees the services of a personal shopper. This means they will be able to make the most of their time in Italy, assisted by someone who can make their shopping experience more satisfactory, fun and relaxing. The next step in the planning of a shopping-oriented trip to Italy is selecting your destination. Which Italian cities should you visit with your shop-a-holic colleagues? We share our pick of the best Italian cities to shop in.
Top 5 shopping destinations in Italy
This is the obvious choice. Milan is often referred to as Italy’s shopping capital and its fashion week draws hundreds of thousands of visitors every year. Here you will find some of the world’s best known designer brands, and no shortage of new and exciting independent designers and boutiques. The heart of Milan’s fashion district is also known as “the fashion quadrilateral” or “the golden quadrilateral”, because of its square shape. Here you can shop for the most exclusive Italian brands, such as Valentino, Ferragamo, Bottega Veneta, Gucci, Versace and Fendi, to name but a few. The key streets to visit in this area are Via Manzoni, Corso Venezia, Via della Spiga and, naturally, Via Montenapoleone. Within the same district, we also recommend you pay a visit to La Rinascente – the local equivalent of upmarket department stores like Harrods in London or KaDeWe in Berlin. This is a particularly handy place in which to buy original gifts that are not necessarily fashion-related.
Piedmont is a beautiful destination and Turin in particular will offer you a uniquely rich cultural experience and a touch of mystery. If you want to indulge in a day of fashion shopping while in the city, we recommend you take a stroll down the central via Roma, where renowned designer stores can be found. If fashion is not your only interest and you want to sample the best of Italian cuisine, head to Via Nizza to visit Eataly – something you might want to do in several Italian cities actually: not only you will find outstanding restaurants there, you will also be able to buy top quality local delicacies that you are unlikely to find elsewhere in the world. If you want to go shopping for fashion, but your budget doesn’t allow you to splurge on haute couture, go to via Garibaldi: here you will find eclectic, affordable fashion and charming little stores with a friendly vibe.
If you only have one day off on your business trip to Florence, explore its museums and landmarks: it is a unique opportunity and not to be passed upon. If you have two days off, by all means devote one to shopping. There are two ways to go about this: you could go for Italian and international haute couture, which you will certainly find – particularly if you visit during the fashion trade shows at Palazzo Pitti. Or you could go for authentic Florentine artisanal goods, which, despite the overwhelming forces of globalisation, you can still only find here. Florence, for instance, is the perfect destination to shop for leather goods, as there is a long standing tradition of tannery and leather working that has developed for centuries along the Arno river. Here you will be able to order custom made leather shoes, gloves or jackets, or find exquisite ready-made goods that will make perfect gifts for your loved ones at home. Florence is also a favourite destination for those who love antique shops, where you will find obscure art, renaissance furniture, curios and collectibles, each of them unique, each with its own history. Why shop for brands, when you can shop for stories and emotions?
Well, of course you will want to go shopping in Rome. Who wouldn’t? The point is, however, what kind of shopping experience you are looking for. If your budget allows it, you could explore the area around Piazza di Spagna, walking up and down Via dei Condotti, Via delle Carrozze or Via Borgognona, where you will find such brands as Bulgari and Dior, as well as artisanal pastry shops and antique bookstores. Taking this route can leave you star-struck and you are likely to bump into literally every international celebrity that happens to be in town at that particular time. On the other hand, your shopping experience will be almost entirely Roman-free. As is the case with many capitals, locals have more or less vacated the city centre, leaving it to function as a perfect postcard for tourists, and moved the centre of action elsewhere. If you want the zing and the thrill of a truly Roman shopping adventure, ditch the sparkly stores and head for the noise and bustle of the markets. The most famous one is held every Sunday in Porta Portese and, while popular with tourists, it is still as loved by locals as ever. Here you will find anything, from antique furniture to linen, from musical instruments to vintage records. If even Porta Portese is too mainstream for you, try via Sannio. This daily market in the neighbourhood of Appio Latino is the go-to spot for vintage fashion: actor Sarah Jessica Parker never misses an opportunity to visit it whenever she is in Rome.
Have you ever heard of “hippie-chic”? This particular kind of fashion was invented in Positano, which has been one of the most exclusive shopping destinations in Italy for decades. If you visit this gem of the Amalfi Coast, you simply must explore its workshops, where the famous capresi sandals are manufactured. Here you will find delightful little boutiques that offer haute couture quality with that distinct hippie vibe, that is elegant and refined without being aloof and without taking itself too seriously. The local crafts extend well beyond fashion: we recommend you visit the local artisan workshops that sell artistic and decorative ceramics. The craftsmanship behind these unique pieces has contributed to Positano’s worldwide reputation as a must-visit destination in Southern Italy. Once your thirst for shopping has been quenched, you can relax at one of the local eateries and treat yourself to a delicious Babà or a Sfogliatella.