Greetings from Italy!

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Italian Fashion

Shopping in Italy

Shopping in Italy is not just a pleasure for tourists, but also for the locals. Notably, Italian produced merchandise is known, world wide, for its style, creativity, and quality and workmanship. Though the key sought product is fashion related, there is a large market for leather goods, ceramics, glassware, artworks, handcrafted work, jewelry, and antiques. From the major retail stores, to family run small ‘everything’ shops, to the open-air markets, you will surely find something to perk your shopping interest.

The currency in Italy is the euro, which replaced the Lira in February 2002. You will find euro notes in the denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, and 500, and euro cents (coins) in the following denominations: 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 (cents), 1.00 (euro), and 2.00 (euro). Exchanging currency, traveler checks, and checks can be accomplished at banks, train stations, airports, and even some of the major hotels, but keep in mind that exchange rates change and fluctuate. Traveler checks, Diners Club, Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Eurocheque card are accepted almost everywhere in Italy, however, contact your credit card company, prior to your trip, and find out if there is extra charges to your purchase due to the different currency exchange. Italian banks are open Monday to Friday, closed on weekends and holidays, and hours of operation are 8:30 A.M. to 1:30 P.M. and from 3:00 P.M. to 5:00 P.M. (may vary). There are bancomats (ATM) all over Italy, and will even prompt you for language preferences, making them easy to use.

Tourists, traveling to Italy, are able to claim I.V.A rebates (sales tax) on purchases 155 euro and over, which are made in the same store on the same day. If you plan to do this, you will have to make sure the store vendor furnishes you a receipt that names the merchandise, and states the amount of sales tax paid. When leaving Italy, you will show the receipts of purchase at customs, they will stamp it, and you will have to mail the receipt back to store vendor, who will forward the I.V.A rebate to you. If you do not receive the rebate, you should file a complaint with your nearest Italian embassy. Another alternative is to shop at stores that display a Global Refund, or tax-free shopping, sticker. These vendors will issue you a tax-free shopping check, when you show your passport. Again, when leaving Italy, you will show the checks to customs, which will stamp them, and you can then obtain your refund at any ETS desk, or submit for refund through the mail.

Pricing, in Italy, is generally fix, and bargaining in stores is not an acceptable practice; however, you might find vendors in local small town markets willing to bargain on the price of an item. When shopping in Italy and looking at a price tag, it may look a little confusing. In Italy, the decimal point is not used to separate dollars from cents; instead, a comma is used in place of the decimal. A common courtesy, when shopping in Italian stores is not to handle the merchandise, and it is better practice to ask for assistance when you wish to see an item. Be observant and watchful for people selling imitations of popular Italy items, in other words, know what you are buying so you do not pay high price for worthless merchandise.

Italian stores are typically open Monday thru Saturday; however, in some regions the stores do not open on Mondays. Shopping hours are 0830 to 1230, at which time stores close for lunch and mid-day rest, and then re-open at 1530 till 1930. Some towns have a late night shopping day, where stores will remain open later then 1930. The hours of operation may vary in Northern Italy, where lunch break is slightly shorter, and the stores will then closes earlier in the evening.

Italy, a fashion mecca, will have you stopping to shop in Florence, Milan, and Rome, but do not discount small town stores for indulging your shopping craving. Also, local village markets are good places to shop for inexpensive clothing and accessories. Most clothing stores do have fitting rooms, but open-air market vendors may not, though some vendors will allow you to try clothing on in a make shift fitting room they have assembled. So, come prepared knowing your equivalent European sizes. With that said, Italian fashion, for women especially, is made to accentuate the body, so, do not be alarmed if the equivalent size is not your proper size for Italian fashion.

Italy’s Florence is not only known for high quality fashion merchandise. There you will also find genuine leather items to enhance and accessorize your wardrobe. Also, Florence is even better known for its exquisite goldsmith crafting. So, make your way to the Ponte Vecchio (old bridge), where you will find each side of the street lined with jewelry storefronts.

Venezia (Venice) is well known for its quality-crafted glassware, which is made on the Island of Murano. You can even take a water-taxi from the mainland of Venice to the Venetian island of Murano. Also, Venetian lace, which is exquisite and generally high priced, is made on the island of Burano. Venice is home to numerous art galleries, jewelry stores, fashion shops, and stores that produce beautiful costume masks, which are worn for Canivale.

The towns of Nove and Bassano, in the Veneto region of Italy, are known world wide for its quality work in ceramics and porcelain. You can purchase these handcrafted works at good prices compared for what they sell for when exported and sold in other countries. So, definitely make your ceramic and porcelain purchases while there.

Southern Italy offers you the chance to purchase a variety of merchandise produced in this part of the country. The region of Abruzzo produces filigree jewelry, and handcrafted items made out of wrought iron and brass. Wood worked products are found in Calabria, while corals and cameos made from seashells are made in Campania. Sicily and Sardinia is well known for textile products, including tablecloths.
A few regions and cities of special shopping interest:

Tuscany- Carrara for marble; Empoli for bottles and glassware made from green glass; and Prato is known for textile.

Lombardy- Cremona for handmade quality crafted violins, and Como for beautiful silk items.

Friuli-Venezia Giulia- Spilimbergo is well known for its beautiful work in mosaics.

Emilia-Romagna- Faenza for pottery, and Ravenna for mosaic works.

Marche- Castelfidardo has a factories that produces accordions, as well as producing organs and guitars.

A tourist, traveling around Italy, will definitely be able to find something exquisite, or practical, when out shopping. Whether it is a fine art piece, a new addition for the wardrobe, or handcrafted items, you will, long after, admire and reflect on your Italian shopping finds.

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