The “Made in Italy” brand is one of the world’s most recognized and coveted labels. Given this cachet, many manufacturers have tried over the years to pass off everything from olive oil to handbags as authentic Italian products.
If there is one particular word that can be used to define some of Italy’s major handicrafts, it’s marble. Marble, either as a substance or a style, runs through three different artisan crafts that are famous in Italy: some of the world’s finest marble is found in the hills around the province of Massa-Carrara in Tuscany; marbled paper, which is one of Florence’s distinctive crafts; and marbleized glass, a Venetian specialty, especially on the island of Murano.
This month’s Italy Blogging Roundtable is focused on crafts and I am spotlighting marble or marbled handicrafts that travelers should look out for in Tuscany (including Florence) and Venice.
Carrara marble, the same stone that Michelangelo used to carve his famous statues and busts, is renowned throughout the world. Professional and would-be sculptors visit the marble hills in western Tuscany to learn the Italian craft of marble work and you, too, can participate in such classes. The Marble and Art Workshops in Pietrasanta give participants lessons in sculpting, trips to marble studios and foundries, and lessons in mosaic and stone inlays.
Florentine Marbled Paper
One of the most popular souvenirs from Central Italy is Florence’s marbled paper. Artisans have been designing marbled paper since the 17th century, using it largely for bookbinding (another craft) but also for stationary. Alberto Cozzi (Via del Parione 35/r, by Santa Maria Novella) is the most renowned store for purchasing Florentine marbled paper but also where customers can watch artisans restoring book and making marbled papers.
Watching the Murano glass artisans blow, fire, and shape vases, goblets, figurines, and pendants, among other things, is a time-honored tourist favorite when visiting Venice. Murano glass is defined by its vibrant colors and glass crafters often employ marbling techniques to their wares. The Murano Glass Factory (Castello 4623, Venice) is one place where travelers can watch artisans and pick up glassware and trinkets
Read the posts, leave comments, share them with your friends – and tune in next month for another Italy Blogging Roundtable topic.
- ArtTrav – Stefano Giusti, Modern Luthier
- At Home in Tuscany – Wood, leather and flowers
- Brigolante – Crafts in Umbria
- WhyGo Italy – The Guide to Crafts in Italy
I get lots of emails from readers asking for Italy travel advice. And while I like to think of myself as the Italy travel resource, I know that there are tons of bloggers, writers, tour operators, travel consultants, and many other Italophiles who have knowledge on specific subjects, like villa rentals, Tuscany antique markets, or wines of the Veneto. Previously, I have just answered readers’ questions as best – and as quickly – as I could. But I started thinking that everyone could benefit from the knowledge I’ve earned as a result of researching some of these inquiries.
So, today I am starting a new feature called “Ask the Italy Expert,” in which I utilize my network of Italy experts to answer your travel questions. I’m really excited about the first installment of this feature because it is all about SHOPPING!
Two readers, Dominika and Niek, recently asked me questions about shopping in Italy. Dominika, who is getting married in Rome, was particularly interested in finding out about factory outlets and pastry shops/cake makers in and around the capital while Niek wanted to know about outlets in the southern Italian regions of Basilicata, Calabria, and Puglia.
As soon as I saw that I had two specific shopping questions, I knew exactly who to ask. Stefania Troiani is the creative founder and owner of Rome Shopping Guide, a private tour company that offers personalized shopping tours of the Eternal City, from food markets to outlets to luxury boutiques. While I have never actually “met” Stefania, I have enjoyed reading her shopping advice on her website and Twitter for quite some time now. Certainly, she specializes in Rome, but I had no doubts of her ability to tell me about other shopping experiences south of the capital. Here are her superb shopping suggestions:
Question 1: Factory Outlets and Cake Makers in Rome
The best factory outlets for designer label handbags and clothes and shoes around Rome are:
Castel Romano Designer Outlet elegantly built around a style reminiscent of Imperial Rome that boasts 110 designer name shops with prices reduced from 30% to 70%. Many shops also offer tax free (from a minimum of 4% up to a maximum 16% of the selling price of the goods purchased). The outlet is located 30mins outside Rome (how to get there).
Another perfect place to find special accessories is the Bulgari outlet that carries all the end of series and unsold items from Bulgari shops. It is possible to find handbags, crocodile purses, ties, house furnishings, scarves, sunglasses, glasses, modern silver and also jewelry for which Bulgari has been famous for over 100 years, all to be discounted 30%. The staff speaks English and Japanese. The outlet is located on Via Aurelia, 1052 only a few miles outside Rome.
When in Rome you can also get some great buys on designer handbags, clothes and shoes and if you are looking for Miu Miu, Cavalli, Chloé, and Burberry you should pop into Outlet Gente conveniently located near the Vatican on Via Cola di Rienzo 246.
Antonella e Fabrizio is a discount store for men and women near Piazza Navona, on Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, 247 selling Armani, D&G and Just Cavalli as well as other popular Italian labels.
Il Discount dell’Alta Moda is a boutique near Piazza del Popolo on Via Gesù e Maria, 16 overstocking at up to 50% off goods by Fendi, Gucci, Sergio Rossi, and Roberto Cavalli.
Pastry shops in Rome are all very good. I know many great good cake makers. My two favorites are the historic Marinari pastry shop in the Trieste neighborhood also well known for its delicious “torta della nonna,” it offers a wide range of desserts from ricotta cakes to Sicilian cannoli.
Another one to recommend to dessert lovers is Antonini on via Sabotino, 19 that offers one of the best selections of pastries in town.
(Those pastry shops sound delicious! Best bet is to shop for shoes at the outlets so you can indulge in the cake without worrying about fitting into designer duds!)
Question 2: Factory Outlets in Basilicata, Calabria, and Puglia
There are not many quality outlets in Basilicata and Calabria, whilst in Puglia there are several places to visit for value conscious travelers.
- Vestebene Outlet Storeon Piazza Dante Alighieri 85 – Galatina – Lecce
- Filanto Shoes Outlet – Casarano Industrial Park – Lecce
- Leather Company Outlet (excellent value and quality) – Via Provinciale Uggiano 44 – Otranto – Lecce
- Molfetta Fashion District (80 shops) Via dei Portuali, Molfetta- Bari
Great tips for outlets in Puglia, Stefania! If anyone else has tips on outlets in Basilicata or Calabria, let me know.
I really hope that you have enjoyed this new Q&A on Italofile. If you’d like to submit a question or if you are an Italy expert who’d like to offer some advice, contact me. Hopefully, we can collaborate on the next installment of Ask the Italy Expert!
Vrooms With a View: Europe’s Most Scenic Drives (includes Val d’Aosta, Piemonte) [The Guardian]
Eat Like a Local in Venice, The Venetian Islands Locals Want to Keep to Themselves, Venice Bacari [The Guardian]
Global Eye: Venice Carnival [National Geographic Intelligent Travel Blog]
Italy’s Sleepy Surprise (Maratea, Basilicata) [Philadelphia Inquirer]
Where Puccini Might Shop in Rome [New York Times]
For a Real Italian Getaway, Follow the Herd (Abruzzo) [The Guardian]
What’s New in Rome and Venice for 2010 and What’s New in Italy, from Museums to Mountain Walks [Rick Steves for the Seattle Times]
Moving House? No, We’re Just Off to Italy to Visit the Folks (road tripping in a motor home) [The Guardian]
Roadtripping the Sicilian Coast [Matador Network]
Caravaggio’s Greatest Hits Draw Big Crowds in Rome [LA Times]
Italy Deserves More Than a Long Weekend (fashion-focused editorial) [New York Times]
Customs and Etiquette in Italy: 15 Things Every Visitor Should Know [Fodor’s Travel Wire]
Giro d’Italia Bicycle Race is Making Its Way to Washington, DC, in 2012 [Washington Post]
And, while I don’t often feature articles from the Italy blogs in the round-up, I had to mention these two articles from Alex Roe, the blogger behind the excellent Blog From Italy:
Ballooning Over Tuscany
Floating Self-Catering in Venice
Photo © Carol Fletcher
Lots of Italy-related articles this time of year. So, here goes:
The Washington Post
Smart Mouth: His Palermo Restaurant Is Popular, But It’s No Mob Scene
Naples (FL) Daily News
From the Ground Up: Part-Time Naples Couple Found Their Italian Villa a Full-Time Restoration Job Over Two Years (Brindisi, Puglia)
The Guardian (UK)
The Amalfi Coast On a Budget
Caught in the Spell of San Pietro (Sardinia)
Hidden Gems (Sibillini Mountains, Le Marche)
Little Po Peep (Emilia-Romagna)
Flying Visit: Venice
A Greener Way to Umbria’s Capital
Sydney Morning Herald
How to Shop Up an Appetite (Milan)
Night in Italian Prison Promises Gourmet Fare (Tuscany)
Master of the House (Palladio in Venice)
Holiday in Harmony with Gregorian Monks (Tuscany)
A Bloodbath, Italian Style (Florence)
We recently profiled the Civilized Shopper’s Guides to Rome and Florence, two handy shopping guides for two of Italy’s most popular cities. Landing on bookshelves this week is the second edition of Made in Italy: A Shopper’s Guide to Italy’s Best Artisanal Traditions from Murano Glass to Ceramics, Jewelry, Leather Goods, and More. Written by Laura Morelli, who has also written similar shopping guides for France and the American Southwest, Made in Italy takes you around the entire peninsula and provides excellent background information on artisanal goods as well as shop listings. If you’re traveling beyond Rome or Florence and shopping is your motivation, we recommend giving this guide a try.
It’s one thing to go to Italy and bring back photos, cheap souvenirs, and designer clothing that you could have bought at just about any department store or outlet. It’s quite another to bring back items that Italy is known for – quality leather, handmade paper, artisan chocolate, etc.
That’s why I really like two guides from publishers at The Little Bookroom: The Civilized Shopper’s Guide to Rome and The Civilized Shopper’s Guide to Florence. These little guides point you past the schlock stalls and tourist trinkets to bespoke shoemakers and tailors, antique booksellers, porcelain shops, and fabric wholesalers. Each book is divided up by various shopping walks, which you can tailor to your usual tourist itinerary.
Some of our favorite shops – such as Leone Limentani in Rome – are also in The Unofficial Guide to Central Italy. But if you’re a serious shopper or need to buy a special gift on your travels, consider picking up one or both of these pretty, practical guides.
We recently got such a good response from our posting on Designer Outlets in Italy, that we thought we’d try to find more bargain shopping resources. What we found was Entrepreneur’s How to Shop in Milan – Without Spending a Fortune, a short article with tips on outlet shopping.
This isn’t a cheapskate’s guide to Milan, but a way for fashion-conscious bargain hunters to get the most out of Italy’s fashion capital. There’s contact information for outlets such as The Place, Fidenza Village, 10 Corso Como Outlet, Basement, and Il Salvagente. Sale items included a black cashmere Miu Miu coat for €235 (reduced from €650), Furla handbags for €185, and Dolce & Gabbana men’s shoes (from the Dolce and Gabbana Outlet) for €168.
Update 5 August 2015: This is one of the most popular posts on Italofile. I’m not sure how so many readers arrive here, as the post is ancient by online standards. So here are a few more current resources for you:
- Where to Find Italy’s Best Outlet Malls from Walks of Italy
- Outlet and Factory Stores as listed in Where Milan
- Going Shopping at the Outlets in Tuscany by Discover Tuscany
- The Best Outlet Malls in Italy by Italy Beyond the Obvious
I have not had a chance to re-vet all of the places listed below, so I advise you to do some extra research before making your itinerary.
I do most of my shopping at sample sales in Rome, secondhand stores, and during the seasonal sales, so I am very keen to learn about other locations for discount shopping. Feel free to help me and other readers out with your recommendations by leaving a comment below!
And now, the original post…
We figure that few, if any, readers of this blog are flush enough to pay retail for Prada, Gucci, or any of the other Italian design houses currently showing their lines at Milan Fashion Week. That’s why we wanted to highlight Corriere della Sera’s helpful list of the fashion outlets, which are located all over northern Italy. We’ve provided the link. But in case CS’s list gets zapped from cyberspace, we’re recreating the list below. Please also note that this list is from a few years back. For a more updated list, with detailed descriptions of shops, check out Designer Bargains in Italy. Happy shopping!
Spaccio Luciano Soprani – Luciano Soprani’s outlet
(a bit less classic than Armani, but still very elegant)
Via Morosini 30, Milano, tel. 02-55183913
Spaccio Etro – Etro’s outlet
(clothings, tissues, scarves, shoes…)
Via Spartaco 3, Milano, tel. 02-798168
Factory Store Valextra
Bags, suitcases, shoes… by Valextra
Via Cerva 11, Milano, tel. 02-76003459
Factory Store Samsonite
Suitcases, bags, shoes… by Samsonite
Via Milano 18, Corsico (Milano) , tel. 02-4408363
Via Clivio 23, Viggiù (Varese) , tel. 0332-440200
Spaccio Kookai – Kookai’s outlet
(trendy clothing and so on for youth)
Inside via Quintiliano 33, Milano, tel. 02-58016368
Luxury factory outlet center with outlets by some of the greatest brands: Gucci, Giorgio Armani, Sergio Rossi, Yves Saint Laurent, Bottega Veneta, Loro Piana
Via Europa 8, Leccio/Reggello (Firenze), tel. 055-8657775I
Pellettieri d’Italia – Prada’s outlet
Località Levanella, Montevarchi (Arezzo) tel. 055-91901
Fendi – Fendi’s outlet (clothings, parfums, shoes…)
Via Giuseppe Di Vittorio 9, Rignano sull’Arno (Firenze), tel. 055-834981
San Marino Factory Outlet
Via Tre Settembre n. 3 (1 Km dopo il confine)
REPUBBLICA DI SAN MARINO
Spaccio Della Valle
Factory outlet of the top shoes in the casual-chic style: Tod’s and Hogan
Via Garibaldi 134, Sant’Elpidio a Mare (Ascoli Piceno), tel. 0734-871671
(Gucci, Prada, Versace, Ferrè, Krizia, Dolce &Gabbana, Bottega Veneta, Missoni-Les Copains, Bally, Diesel, Esprit, Nike, Replay, Adidas, Johnny Lambs, Superga, Ralph Lauren, Richard Ginori, Etro, Samsonite…)
A great factory outlet center in a post-modern building very close (seven kilometres) to the border between Italy and Switzerland. There are 140 top Italian and international brands
Via Maspoli 28, Mendrisio – Canton Ticino (Svizzera) – tel. 0041-848-828888
McArthur Glen Designer Outlets
(Aspesi, Byblos, Dolce & Gabbana, Cacharel, Clarks, Lacoste, Fratelli Rossetti, Invicta, Levi’s/Dockers, Marina Yachting, Nike, Reebok, Stonefly, Valextra, Versace, Slam, Phard, Fiorucci, La Perla, Bulgari, Loro Piana…)
First italian outlet village. Near Serravalle exit on the motorway
Milano-Genova: there are over one hundred outles of the top brands, national and international
Via della Moda 1, Serravalle Scrivia (Alessandria), tel. 0143-686003
Spaccio Alessi – Factory outlet of the famous kitchen and tableware by Alessi
Via privata Alessi 6, Crusinallo di Omegna (Verbania), tel. 0323-868648
IN MORE THAN ONE REGION
Timberland Factory Outlet (shoes, clothes…)
* Via Piave 24/26, Pero (Milano) Lombardia, tel. 02-3536687
* Via Nazionale 9, Tavagnacco (Udine) Friuli Venezia Giulia, tel. 0432-46087
* Via dei Castelli Romani 15/a, Pomezia (Roma) Lazio, tel. 06-91602237
* Strada Statale 12 del Brennero 46, Vipiteno (Bolzano) Trentino Alto Adige, tel. 0472-767670 Armani Factory Store – Giorgio Armani’s outlet
* Strada provinciale per Bregnano 13, Vertemate CO, tel. 031-887373
* Via Merloni 10, Matelica MC, tel. 0737-782352
Dolce & Gabbana outlet
* Località Santa Maria Maddalena, Pian dell’Isola/Incisa Val d’Arno (Firenze) – Toscana -tel. 055-8331300
* Via Rossini 70, Legnano (Milano) – Lombardia – tel. 0331-545888
Diffusione Tessile – Factory outlet by Max Mara group
(Max &Co., I Blues, Marina Rinaldi…)
* Galleria del Corso 2, (Milano) – Lombardia – tel. 02-76000829
* Strada statale Rabuiese angolo provinciale Farnei, Muggia (Trieste) – Friuli Venezia Giulia -tel. 040-235089
* Strada Pontina Km. 28,400 – Pomezia (Roma)- Lazio – tel. 06-9105673
* Via Padana Inferiore Ovest 15, Legnago (Verona) – Veneto -tel 0422-602811
* Corso Francia 313, Collegno (Torino) – Piemonte – tel. 011-4157840
* Inside Centro Commerciale Valle Scrivia ,via Isorelle 15/B, Savignone (Genova) – Liguria – tel. 010-9761200
* Via Goleto 13/B, Boretto (RE) – Emilia Romagna – tel. 0522-964415
Photo © brooy
Many readers have gotten in touch with us to find out what there is to do in the Lazio region, and, in particular, in the Province of Rome. It turns out that many provincial Roman towns host flea markets and antique fairs throughout the year. Here is a fairly comprehensive listing of these markets, courtesy of the Province of Rome Tourism Board (www.aptprovroma.it):
Antique Market and Artisan Fair, 2nd Sunday of the month, Quartiere Cellomaio
Information: 06 932 9281; www.prolococecchina.it
Antiques, Art, and Hobby Market, 3rd Sunday of the month
Information: 06 984 991
Artisan and Antiques Market, 2nd Sunday of the month (except July and August)
Information: 06 998 40005
CAMPAGNANO DI ROMA
“Le Bancarelle” Antiques Exhibition-Market, last Sunday of the month, Piazza Centrale del Paese
Information: 06 904 4263
Little Antiques Market, last Sunday of the month
Information: 06 935 9181
Art and Antiques Market, 3rd Sunday of the month
Information: Comune 06 994 1098 or 06 896 301; Pro Loco 06 995 51971
Little Antiques Market, 1st Sunday of the month
Little Antiques Market, 4th Saturday and Sunday of the month
Information: Comune 07 665 90561/2; I.A.T. 07 662 5348; www.comunecivitavecchia.it
Art and Antiques Market, 2nd Sunday of the month
Information: 06 991 3049; www.prolocoladispoli.it.
Antiques Market, 1st Sunday of the month
Information: 06 937 891; www.prolocolanuvio.com
Art and Antiques Market, 1st Sunday of the month
Information: 06 996 2980
Little Market of Curiosities, 3rd Sunday of the month
Information: 06 936 7373; www.comune.marino.rm.it
MONTE PORZIO CATONE
Antiques Exhibition-Market, last Sunday of the month, Porta Borghese
Information: 06 943 40043
“The Island of Time” Little Antiques Market, 2nd Sunday of the month
Information: 06 906 74215
Art and Antiques Market, 4th Sunday of the month, Lungomare Matteotti
Information: 06 984 6573
Little Market at Porto Odescalchi, every Saturday and Sunday of the month
Information: I.A.T. 07 665 13754; Pro Loco S. Severa 07 665 70403
Antiques Market, 1st Sunday of the month (except August and December), passegiata in riva al lago
Information: 06 999 19979
Market specializing in maps, 4th Saturday and Sunday of the month, near Palazzo Doria Pamphili
Information: 06 959 901
Photo of Bracciano by pietbron
In a recent NY Times Foraging column, Melissa Clark profiles Antica Aguzzeria del Cavallo, a cutlery shop that dates back to 1783. Clark notes, “If it cuts, rips, tears, nicks, grates, slices, shaves or pricks and is legal to sell, they most likely have it.”
Being the heartland of Italian cooking, Bologna is a great place to pick up a new kitchen tool. Just make sure to pack it in your checked luggage.