There is no shortage of temptation for shoppers and souvenir-hunters in Italy. Visitors can take advantage of Italy’s traditional expertise in textiles, ceramics, leather and glassware in all price ranges.
There are factory outlets across the country, particularly for clothes and other textiles but also for pottery and glass; local tourist offices will be able to point you in the right direction. Rural areas will usually have good basketware, local terracotta or ceramic items as well a veritable banquet of locally produced wine, olive oils, cheeses, hams and salamis. It’s always worth rooting out the local speciality, even in urban centres: Turin is known for its chocolate, Milan famous for designer clothes and furniture, Venice for glassware and lace, Florence for leather goods, Sicily and Perugia for ceramics.
Every large village and town has at least one weekly market (detailed in the Guide), and though these are usually geared towards household goods, they can be useful for picking up cheap clothing, basketware, ceramics and picnic ingredients.
Prices are mainly in line with most of Western Europe and are always a little higher in the north of the country and urban areas. Credit/debit cards have become increasingly acceptable, with swipe-and-pin machines the norm – though some small shops may still accept only cash. Haggling is also uncommon in most of Italy but in markets you might like to try your luck; ask for uno sconto (a discount) and see where it gets you. Bargaining is not practised when buying food, however, or in shops.
If you’re resident outside the EU you are entitled to a rebate for the VAT (or IVA) paid on items over €155. You need to ask for a special receipt at the time of purchase and allow your goods to be checked at the airport and the receipt stamped when you leave the country. For more, see w globalrefund.com.