By Nicole Arriaga in Rome—
There are two times a year when you’ll see Italians go nuts about something other than soccer. Yes, I’m talking about the saldi. For those non-shopaholics or those not in the know, “saldi” are twice-annual sales that are regulated by the Italian government. In Rome, they’re a great opportunity to save big on clothing.
Two seasons of sales
The summer sales are held at the beginning of July and last through mid-August. This is when shopkeepers lure in shoppers to snatch up those deeply-discounted sandals and swimsuits, just before the summer ends.
In the winter, the sales start around the beginning of January and last until mid-February. Smart shoppers hold out until after Christmas to grab up the good buys during the winter sales. This year, the sales run through February 16, 2011.
Boy oh boy, can one find some great stivali (boots) on sale! Yep. During the winter sales, Italians all over the country come out and bombard mom-and-pop shops, outlets and even mega-shopping malls. And believe me, the bargains abound.
Making the most of the “saldi”
Before you hit the stores, there are a few things you should keep in mind. Here are my shopping tips:
1. Not all discounts are real.
Unfortunately, some shops dishonestly jack up their “regular” prices during this period and tack on a “deep discount” (“sconti”) sign next to them. This is to make you believe that you’re getting a good deal, when actually you’re not. Therefore it’s best to shop around and compare prices.
2. Pay close attention to return policies.
In Italy, you can almost never return an item you’ve purchased and get your money back. It’s just not part of their consumer culture. Some shops don’t even let you return anything, period. When permitted, stores will allow you to exchange items or receive a store credit to be used within a limited period of time. Therefore, when in doubt, ask about a store’s return policy.
3. Try asking for an additional sconto (“discount”).
Most big stores won’t honor your request. However, some of the smaller shops will lower the price even further, especially if they’re desperate to sell. It never hurts to ask.
4. Beware of the signs that say “Non si prova.”
“Non si prova” means that you can’t try it on. In some stores and with certain items, this is the policy. There must be a good reason for this. Honestly, however, to me it sounds a bit sketchy. If I can’t try it on, then I’m not buying it.
5. Know where to buy.
There are several shopping districts in Rome. Listed below are some of the most popular shopping streets and malls.
Via Cola di Rienzo (Prati)
Via Nazionale (Centro Storico)
Via del Corso (Centro Storico)
230 stores + restaurants
Via Cristoforo Colombo angolo Viale dell’Oceano Pacifico
Tel.: 06 /5262161
GALLERIA PORTA DI ROMA
220 stores + restaurants + movie theater
Via Alberto Lionello, 201
210 stores + restaurants + movie theater
Tel.: 06/ 22511377
210 + restaurants + movie theater
Via Bramante, 31 & 65 (Fiumicino)