Italy + shopping? Fabulous (if dangerous!) combination.
My mom left Rome with Italian leather on her mind. She is a bit of a shopper, you see, so Rome’s streets, packed with stores selling purses, shoes, and other goods made from cows’ hides, shone as brightly as streets paved with gold.
Sadly, time didn’t permit her to satisfy her shopping craving while there: our three-day Roman holiday was punctuated, rather, by seeing all the important stuff, like the Colosseum and the Pantheon. I watched her, covertly, as she cast her eye longingly over the Gucci and Prada handbags stretched out on the pavements, offerings from the scores of West African vendors working every major piazza in the city centre.
“Don’t bother looking at those, mom,” I told her. “They’re fake and you’ll get in trouble at customs if you try to bring them back to Canada.” I didn’t know this for certain but the last years have seen a crackdown on tourists handling counterfeit goods. Instead, I promised her that the better stuff, the authentic stuff –ergo, the shopping for the hardcore — was to be found on the Amalfi coast.
I was right. Two days later we arrived in Sorrento, gateway to stacked, colourful villages along the rugged Italian coastline. The city’s centre has a long, tight alleyway that stretches perpendicular to the sea, home to delicious leather goods. The magnetic pull was strong. Our plans to walk down to Sorrento’s port to sit on the beach were dashed as we were swallowed by one store selling handmade leather purses. I vowed to buy nothing and only provide moral support for my mom as she navigated Italian shopping territory.
I think you can guess the end to this story.
I’m now the proud owner of two new bags and a pair of ballet flats I absolutely adore. All leather, all amazing. Shopping in Sorrento is not cheap by any stretch of the imagination but the quality for the price you pay is really quite good. If you’re good at negotiation (which I’m not, especially when I want something badly), you’ll enjoy haggling with the shop owners here and be well-rewarded with discounts if your efforts are successful.
I may be a few hundred bucks poorer but damn if my feet and shoulders aren’t looking like a million bucks.
Do you shop when you travel? Does shopping on your trip help you connect more or better with a destination?