Italy is the peak experience for shoppers. Here you'll find creations in fashion, jewelry, furniture, glass or leather crafted by the most prestigious designers and manufacturers in the world.
The quality is high and so are the prices. This is especially so when considering all the taxes and add-ons that so inflate the cost of goods bought in Italy.
Shopping In Rome
Rome is a true shopper's paradise. Some people say the shopping outlets outshine the monuments. Fashion items are most alluring but other than clothing, you'll find tempting jewellery, antiques, books and home wares. But rents in Rome are very high and so are prices. You'll need inside info to get the best bargains.
If money is not a concern, head for the famous Spanish Steps and the Via dei Condotti. This is Rome's best shopping street but prices are astronomical. Here's you find all the classic outlets with their baroque or neoclassical facades - Armani, Prada, Versace, Dolce and Gabbana, Gucci and the other grand names of shopping lore.
For more exotic and less pricey gifts, head for Via Francesco Crispi. You can get there by following Via Sistina 1 long block from the top of the Spanish Steps.
And don't forget the Roman markets, though many are not for the faint of heart. An example is the Sunday morning flea market at Porta Portese. This overcrowded event offers almost everything for sale.
Shopping In Venice
With a population of less than 70000 in the historic centre, Venice lacks shopping streets to compare with those of Milan, Florence or Rome. Venice's busiest shopping thoroughfare is the Merceri which runs from the Piazza to the Rialto Bridge. Most of the famous Italian labels have outlets here.
However, it would be a shame to spend your time in Venice buying things that could be found in other places. Far better to look for something uniquely Venetian. And what could be more uniquely Venetian than a Carnival mask? Carnival is held in February but the masks are produced year-round in Venice's many small workshops.
Another uniquely Venetian product is the fabulous glassware from the isle of Murano. Other local specialties include marbled paper which is available at various small outlets such as the renowned Legatoria Piazzes, lace and silk.
Then there are delightful low cost souvenirs such as rings made from glass and inexpensive ornaments such as silver earrings in the shape of carnival masks.