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Shopping in Rome is an amazing experience, whether you're interested in haute couture, antiques, or a bargain. Here are a few ideas about where to shop in Italy's great cities.
Rome is home to Fendi, Valentino, and Bulgari, and other great names of Italian fashion. In Rome you can find their flagship stores. There are also boutiques by Prada, Armani, Versace, Ferragamo, Cavalli, Gucci, and many others. Browse along the streets near the Spanish Steps for an incredible window-shopping experience. Visit Via Condotti to see the home of Rome haute couture. You'll also find high fashion in the boutiques on Via Borgognona, Via Frattina, Via Sistina, and Via Bocca de Leone.
If you want to "do as the Romans do," shop where they shop, there are several choices. One is Via del Corso and the streets that radiate from it. From Piazza Venezia to Piazza del Popolo there is all manner of shops, including the Ferrari flagship store, endless shoe stores, trendy brands like Diesel and Benetton, and large department stores like Rinascente and COIN.
Another area is the Prati neighborhood. Just north of the Vatican is Via Cola di Rienzo, where you'll find an assortment of stores similar to those on Via del Corso, but with fewer tourists.
Florence is an ideal destination for high-class shopping. You can find fine stationery, leather, gold, artisan crafts, and more.
Salvatore Ferragamo, one of the oldest and perhaps most famous of Italian fashion houses, was founded in Florence, as was Pucci. Via Tornabuoni, Via della Vigna Nuova, and Via dei Calzaiuoli, located in the Santa Maria Novella district, are filled with high-end haute couture. You can peruse jewelry and trinkets in the area of Ponte Vecchio. And Florence even has outlet shops, with surprising savings on high-end items!
Once you have finished drooling over haute couture offerings, you can visit "ordinary" stores to find affordable clothing, housewares, and other items. Try the shops near Piazza della Repubblica, where you'll find brands like Zara and department stores like Rinascente.
Florence is a city where you can find unique gifts. Visit Zecchi at Via dello Studio 19r for beautiful marbled stationery. Or try Il Papiro at Piazza del Duomo 24r in the San Giovanni neighborhood.
Leather goods are everywhere, but the Santa Croce Leather Workshop, housed in the cloister of the church of Santa Croce, is famous for leather items from jackets and belts to bookmarks. And the church of Santa Maria Novella contains an apothecary that has been creating perfumes and aromatic oil blends since the 13th century.
Gold is often a sought-after gift in Florence because of its traditional association with the Ponte Vecchio. Stroll across this famous bridge to see the gold sellers lining each side. You may not find a bargain, but there is high quality and unique jewelry.
Venetian glass is known worldwide, especially that from the island of Murano. For a great gift, try a Venetian carnival mask. There are even shops in where you can watch the artists creating these masterpieces. Or buy some Venetian marbled paper.
There are also a variety of markets where you can find fresh produce, seafood, and other Venetian specialties.
There are enough stores, markets, and boutiques in Venice to keep you shopping for days, if not weeks.