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Shopping in Italy


Bargains and quality can co-exist in the country of Italy. Factory outlets and stock houses scattered all over the country have made possible the emergence of a true shopping paradise. Shopping centres are being developed at a much faster pace since the permit process has been eased for shops smaller than 250 square meters although local authorisation is required for building of stores between 250 and 2,500 square meters.

  Photo: Via Veneto, one of Rome's major shopping streets.
One of the biggest shopping centres in Italy is the I Gigli in Florence which is a hypermarket with 120 shops, a mobile market, restaurants, a bank, a post office and a nursery for children among its many features. Ample parking is available as it can accommodate 6,000 cars although it can be reached by public transportation. Another is the Shopville Le Gru in Turin, a shopping centre that started out with tenants that were mostly local traders but have now become a top-ranking location of international retail chains making their mark in Italy.

Millerecords is a shop that offers a vast selection of CDs, and DVDs. Upim is a branch of one of the country’s large department stores offering clothing for all the members of the family at incredible low prices. Panorama is perfect for those who want to do some serious shopping. Coin offers a whole range of quality items from fashion to home products. Centro Commerciale Esselunga has a laundry shop, flower shop, sports shop, shoe shop, bank, pharmacy, travel agency and post office aside from its well stocked supermarket. Cinecitta Due was the first big shopping mall to operate in Rome. The I Portici shopping centre is located in an industrial site transformed into a convenient place for shopping, attending conferences and visiting exhibitions. Centro Torri was the first shopping centre in Parma that became popular because of its competitive prices and high-standard shops. Sposa 2000 is a shop that carries everything needed by brides.

Other noteworthy shopping centres are the Auchan dei Laghi in Milan, La Grande Mela in Verona, Orio centre in Bergamo, Auchan in Ban, Meraville in Bologna, Valecentre in Venice, Le Piramidi in Vicenza and the Citta Fiera in Udine. Most Italian shopping centres are small compared to those of its neighbours in North America and Europe. This has caught the eye of foreign retail real estate developers and investors who are now deep into development in partnership with local counterparts.

Fashion is one of the biggest things when shopping in Italy. Its so-called streets of fashion in Milan, Naples, Venice, Florence and Rome continue to attract scores of clients that are into originality and quality. There are traditional shopping districts in these areas where designer boutiques are conveniently located in one exclusive area. Designer outlets deal with one particular brand or designer. Bargain shopping from these factory outlets may consist of buying end of season pieces of that brand only.

A good alternative to shopping is the stock houses. Stock houses sell an enormous range of brand name merchandise from previous seasons or acquisition from boutiques that have closed down. One possible downside is that these stock houses tend to be scattered throughout a city and are located considerably far from each other. There are some though, that can be found in traditional shopping districts. This is especially true in Milan.

Rows and rows of fine boutiques of every kind line the ancient streets of Venice. Big name labels have found a fitting home in this place. Naples certainly has its own share of big names in fashion. However, the most delightful finds are those that are made in Naples and can be found in shops that are usually operated by its owners. Florence’s finest boutiques can be found along the Via dei Tornabuoni highlighted with the presence of two of its famous sons, Ferragamo and Gucci. There are three key streets housing Roman fashion and these are Via dei Condotti, Via Borgognona and Via Frattina. It is in Rome where the oldest dressmaking workshop — that of Sorelle Fontana is located.

Online shopping is quite new in Italy. There are existing Italian shopping sites offering various products such as baby products, household paints, speakers, books, computers and accessories, ceramics, wines and foods, supermarket items, frescoes, lingerie, appliances and electronics, mozzarella, CDs, DVDs, olive oils, house wares, souvenirs and of course, clothes.

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