19 March 2012

Outlet Mall Shopping in Tuscany, Italy

My friend Anne and I made a field trip to the outlet mall last Friday.  

Though I have lots of experience shopping outlet malls in California and Nevada, this was my first time on such an adventure in Italy.  Whenever I return to California, a trip to the outlet mall is part of the package.  I used to joke that my car should have a bumper sticker that reads:  "My car stops at all Banana Republic Outlets."
Even coupon books are available at the office

Outside of Florence are two outlet malls:  The Mall and Barberino.  The Mall has few stores, and they are all high end; Barberino is a good choice with many "normal" stores, meaning for common folk like myself.  However, on my recent road trip to the south of Italy, I saw Valdichiana from the autostrada, the largest of the three outlet malls but also the farthest from Florence.  Located just outside Arezzo, a car is necessary to get to Valdichiana; whereas, the other two malls offer a bus shuttle service from Florence at 15 euros.  Unfortunately, I have yet to confirm whether that price is each way or round trip.
Traveling Italian autostrada A1 with expired VA plates

My friend has a comfortable car with expired Virginia license plates, which makes our outing to the outlet mall in Valdichiana feel even more like an American adventure but on Italian soil.  As we approach, still on the freeway, we each are excited to see Gap.  In Italy?  The Gap is one of the stores I frequent in the States for T-shirts and other basic items at a good price.  Since September 2011 we now have Gap in Italy.  It looks just like our Gap but is considerably smaller in size and choice.  I make friends (amicizia) with the Gap salesgirl Renata, who is sweet, helpful, and a lot of fun.
 Renata and me at Gap in Italy
"Do you have a few curves from the waist to the hips?"

We spent a long, exhausting but fun day doing our research when shopping at the outlet mall.  Good and bad for me.  The bad:  I had hopes to find some new spring and summer items to replace my old worn and tattered clothes. I didn't.  Even at the outlet mall, I continue to struggle to find clothes in Italy to fit my longer-and-larger-than-typical-in-Italy body.  Good for my finances, though, with only one purchase of a summer-weight coat.  
You can tell it was a long day since it was already getting dark outside when we left

At the outlet malls in the States, it is fun to hear so many diverse accents.  Our experience at Valdichiana was that there were few tourists, and we did not overhear any other native English speakers.  (Maybe I should spend even more time at the outlet mall improving my Italian.) Everyone was very friendly, even the man who reprimanded us for taking photographs. 

It was a fun day and a wonderful field trip, one I look forward to repeating.


  1. Gap is still standing strong throughout the times! Being the largest specialty apparel retailer in the U.S. is a big distinction that every apparel company is aiming for. Despite the changing times, it's great that Gap still has what shoppers are looking for. :)

  2. That must have been a very fun trip! Italy is a Mecca for shopaholics. It is the home of some of the best designers in the world. It won’t be dubbed as a fashion capital for nothing. You might not be able to buy lots of stuff, but the window shopping alone is already an adventure. What made you trip more memorable was Renata. It’s always a good experience every time you encounter good-hearted sales attendants, especially when you are in a foreign land.

  3. We all are love to buy the all the products from Walmart. Now it's easy for finding the all Walmart and Other Outlet Stores location with the help of Outlet Stores Malls

  4. I could surely say that you have lots of experience about the outlet malls. You and your friend just take over the day and enjoy your time there too. This is so great to know and sees you.