With a generous European exchange rate increasing the pound’s worth by 10% compared to last year, now is an ideal time for those who love to splash the cash to hit the shopping havens of Europe. And what better place to start than Italy? Known for its leading fashion cities and as a hub for leather, ceramics, glass and furniture, in Italy there is something to meet the tastes of even the most demanding shopper.
In this guide we take a look at some of Italy’s major shopping stops, as well as some tips on how to make the most of the European exchange rate this summer. Read on to discover a whole new world of retail therapy and learn how to make your money go further in this shopaholic’s paradise.
If holiday souvenirs take pride of place on your shopping list than look no further. Like most tourist hot-spots, Rome is awash with stores selling souvenir t-shirts and hoodies, caps, fridge magnets, keychains and ash trays all decorated in the style of the city’s most popular land marks.
For those looking for something a little more authentic however, this city is well known for its bustling markets selling anything and everything, from terracotta antique decorations to vintage clothes and collectable items. Usually open in the mornings, these markets are the perfect place to shop for unique, one of a kind items, and unlike brick-and-mortar shops, the markets offer you the chance to try your hand at haggling. Much like the rest of Italy, leather goods and hand-painted ceramic items can also be bought elsewhere in the capital, but expect to pay a premium compared to other Italian cities.
Milan, otherwise known as the Italian city of fashion, is a must-visit for the fashion-conscious shopaholic. With an ever-changing cycle of popularity among the residents of Milan’s fashionable streets, clothing items become ‘last season’ far quicker than in other countries.
Milan is not only home to cutting edge designer showrooms, but also discount outlet stalls where new trends are cast-away before they have even reached the height of their popularity elsewhere. Fashionista shopaholics can therefore get their hands on discounts whilst still returning home as trend setters. Expect to find showrooms from all major labels including the likes of Emporio Armani, Gucci and Prada, as well as outlet stores stocking almost-new clothing ranges.
The Venetian islands of Murano are the definitive homelands of top-quality glassware. Glassware shops and individual Murano glass artists sell ornaments and décor in a variety of interesting colours and designs.
Although unique pieces can be costly, some shops also stock cheaper glassware making for ideal tourist souvenirs. For shoppers interested in purchasing Murano glassware, retailers stocking such items can be found on the Murano islands, which are north of Venice, as well as on mainland Venice itself.
Florence is well known as a Mecca for leather. Bags, wallets, belts and the like can all be found in various leather and gift shops. Bargaining is common place so be sure to check the quality of the leather on offer and haggle accordingly.
Much like Milan, Florence is also an Italian fashion hub, with boutique shops from celebrated designers and luxury stores all found on the ancient street of Via Tornabuoni.
Reflecting Florence’s deep cultural history, many antique shops can also be found, selling rare artworks from as far back as the Renaissance period. When purchasing expensive products such as antique pieces or luxury clothing items, be sure to take out personal possessions cover. Spending big money on these one-of-a-kind items only to come back with nothing can really put a downer on your European shopping adventure.
Making The Most Of The European Exchange Rate
This summer the pound will buy you 10% more Euros than a year ago, making those luxury clothing items, Murano glassware and rare antiques all the more affordable.
Be sure to compare rates using online comparison sites before you head out to buy your currency, or for extra clarity, go to your local currency providers and ask them face-to-face how many Euros they will give you for your money.
Alternatively, consider using currency cards which often give you better exchange rates and are used like a debit card once at your destination. Similarly, specialist travel debit cards will give you more for your money than standard debit cards, which will often incur you high charges abroad. Avoid using airports and high-street banks to exchange your money, and instead look to smaller, local providers who can often give you better deals.
Follow these simple tips and you’ll soon be on your way to shopaholic’s paradise with a wallet or purse bursting with Euros just waiting to hit the boutiques of Italy.
Roxanne Seabourne is the Marketing Executive for Avanti Travelcare, who specialise in travel insurance for those with pre-existing medical conditions, and are one of very few that have no upper age limit on their policies.