Italy is a shopper's paradise, with an abundance of authentic Italian goods available throughout the country. If cosmopolitan shopping is your preference, Rome and Florence offer some of the best shopping in Italy - in fact, it is some of the best shopping anywhere in the world.
Any Perillo Tour will provide ample opportunity to explore the shops of Italy, and your Tour Guide can help you find the best values and variety. They are wonderfully knowledgeable resources! Try any of these Perillo Tours and your penchant for the most interesting shopping in Italy will be fully rewarded:
- 11 Day Three City Aristocrat
- 14 Day Italy North Classic Starting Milan
- 14 Day Italy North Classic Starting Rome
- 14 Day Italy North Continental
- 8 Day Roman Holiday
What to Buy
Venice is the center of the glass & crystal industry. Florence specializes in leather, gold, and ceramics. Rome is definitely the place to purchase Catholic religious memorabilia; the shops near the Vatican in particular specialize in this category. You can also find many fine shops along Via Del Corso, parallel to the Spanish Steps in Piazza Di Spagna.
Something else truly unique to Rome
For over 30 years, there has been a talented group of women who sit along a long narrow hallway in the Vatican selling handmade pins. These pins are some of the most extraordinary works of art you will witness; the artists use a magnifying glass to paint the truly delicate and fine details onto each one-of-a-kind pin. If you intend to buy one, however, make sure you bring cash (either euros or American dollars). They do not accept credit cards. The pins start at about $40 and increase in price depending on size and decoration.
Italy's best variety and value can consistently be found in the following items:
- Clothes for men & women – dresses, skirts, gloves, silk ties, silk and cashmere
- Lacework & embroidery
- Leather goods – handbags, cases, boxes, luggage, jackets, briefcases, belts, shoes, pants and wallets
- Gold & silver items – look for 18 karat gold or white gold
- Glass & crystal ware
Although you can't take all of the delicious Italian food home with you (except on your hips), you can certainly take home some excellent bottles of olive oil or wine. In addition, you can look for some exquisite antiques and art. Excellent original work as well as replicas are sold all over.
Shops are open from 9am to 1pm, and then from 3:30 or 4pm to 7:30 or 8pm. There are some variations in Northern Italy (Milan, Turin), where the lunch break is shorter and shops close earlier. The quality of goods is very high. Department stores such as La Rinascente, Coin, Upim, and Standa, and stores featuring major Italian brand names for fashion, jewelry and designer objects, are found in many Italian cities and towns.
Payment and Tax
All major credit cards are honored in Italy. The exchange rate automatic currency conversion and low fees offered by credit cards make it the best way to pay for large purchases.
VAT or Value Added Tax (or otherwise referred to as IVA in Italy) is a tax levied by the European Union on the sale of most goods. The purchase price of any individual item must be above 30,000 lire to qualify for the reimbursement of the VAT. Non-EU citizens are entitled to receive this VAT back when they leave Italy. It is imperative that, when purchasing a large or expensive item, you fill out a special VAT return form stamped by the shop in which you are purchasing the items. This form and all receipts with clearly defined purchase prices and VAT information must be presented with the unopened purchases to the Customs office at the airport in your city of departure. The customs office will not accept receipts without the necessary VAT forms from the shop. In some instances, you will be entitled to receive a cash refund directly at the airport or some stores automatically reduce the price for you right there in the store. Be aware that if you do not return the forms within a certain time period, the store is entitled to charge you the VAT that they had originally taken off your bill.
You may carry merchandise purchased with you, or have it shipped home, whichever is more convenient.