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As Cheapos, we can’t exactly advocate an indulgent spending spree, but we can advise you to keep those glossy shopping bags, if such a spree should occur. (Hey, we’re all human, right?) The homeland of Armani, Prada, Versace, Dolce and Gabbana, and Gucci offers some of the snazziest fashions in Europe and most purchases come in fancy bags with pristine packaging.
Via dei Condotti is one of the richest streets in Italy and boasts the stores, and glossy bags to prove it. This is where to find the big names listed above. On Via del Corso, which runs through the historic city center of Rome, you’ll find Ferrari and Swarovski crystal while Piazza Navona is the best place for gallery-hopping and antique browsing. An “ingresso gratuito” sign in the window is your signal to poke around for free. A “saldi” sign means there’s a sale going on.
Cheapo tip: Find the least expensive item in a designer shop and buy it: think keychain, a towel, baby booties, or even a pen or pencil. The cheapest wares still come in pretty packaging and are easiest to pack. Back home, we’ve been known to carry a small, paper Gucci bag as a lunch sack. And, ribbons from sweet, haute-worthy packages make great hair ties!
While you’re at it…
Don’t forget the outlets! Rome is known for its factory warehouses full of discounted designer duds. We recommend you check out Fashion District Valmonte, just 45 minutes east of Rome’s city center, which boasts 150 designer shops (Calvin Klein, Pierre Cardin, and Sisley to name a few) and is Italy’s self-proclaimed “largest shopping project.” For directions and coupons for the outlet, visit Valmonte’s web site.