Italian Shopping Spree

Duomo in MilanWhen in Milan: Shop ‘til you drop

LUGANO, Switzerland – As the last of seven church bells chimed, the phone rang. Only in Switzerland I thought as I was greeted, “Good morning signora, this is your 7 o’clock wake-up.” During my visit I had grown accustomed to the precision and cleanliness of the Swiss.

This date promised to be full. Earlier in the week I was given a gift – a free day, this day.

My locale was Ticino, Switzerland’s Italian region. The possibilities were endless – exploring the town of Lugano, visiting lakeside villages by boat. But when I learned I was less than an hour by train from Milan, my shopping instincts derailed all other options.

So, here is how I spent my expensive “free day”:

9:17 a.m. Aboard a high-speed train bound for Italy’s capital of style I methodically plotted the day. I knew that to achieve my goal, shop ‘til I drop Italian style, I needed a plan.

10:15 a.m. Immediately upon arrival at Milano Centrale, the starting gun sounded. My first assignment was to find an ATM to withdraw ample euros.

Next stop was the Milan transport authority – there I purchased a one-day metro/bus pass (3 euros).

“Do you speak English?” I quizzed a vendor. “What is the fastest way to Corso Buenos Aires?” The reply: “From the station take bus #33.

On the train I narrowed my expedition to three areas:

* Corso Buenos Aires (metro Lima) – trendy, fun fashions with moderate price tags;

* Via Monte Napoleone (metro Montenapoleone) – the Rodeo Drive of Milan showcasing one designer boutique after another: Versace, Ferragamo, Gucci;

* Piazza del Duomo (metro Duomo) – a shopping/sightseeing combo. Its main feature is Milan’s mammoth centerpiece, the Duomo cathedral. Shopping opportunities include Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II and La Rinascente, Milan’s biggest and oldest department store.

10:59 a.m. On Corso Buenos Aires, I walked into a very sleek store named Promod. I grabbed several items and sprinted to the fitting room.

11:20 a.m. Emerging from Promod, I toted my first purchases: three blouses and a double-zip black cotton jacket. Very stylish, very reasonable. Price tag: 115 euros. Noticing an outdoor purse vendor, I crossed the street and spotted a black multicolored faux Louis Vuitton for 25 euros. I made a mental note.

12.31 p.m. After speed shopping along Buenos Aires I popped underground into the metro for the short ride to the fashion world’s uppercrust district, Montenapoleone.

1:05 p.m. I entered Gucci with a goal: to purchase a purse within my budget. But I was on a time schedule. If I couldn’t find an affordable item, it was necessary to move on. Then I spotted it: a small, tasteful bag with Gucci’s signature green and red band.

A very attractive saleswoman stood nearby . . . doing paperwork. I patiently waited. And waited. Finally I spoke, “Scusilo, signora.” Giving me a look she quoted a price of 180 euros and continued to work.

I splurged on the several minutes necessary to locate someone sincerely helpful, purchased the designer bag and raced onto via Monte Napoleone in search of the nearest metro station.

1:43 p.m. Arriving at Piazza del Duomo, I could feel Milan’s heartbeat. The area teemed with activity – outdoor cafes, street vendors, couples strolling. The Duomo was the scene’s commanding backdrop.

La Rinascente was like a department store in any large city.

However, additional purchases did not elude this shopper. An Italian silk tie (16 euros) was found in a specialty shop beneath the glass-roofed arcade of Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.

2:45 p.m. I reluctantly departed the Piazza to return to Corso Buenos Aires. Emerging the metro, I spotted the vendor of Louis Vuitton fake fame. Pointing to the black purse I quizzed, “Venti due?” With a simple nod, it was sold for 22 euros.

3:20 p.m. In a celebratory mood I visited the nearest eatery, Caffe La Piazzetta, for my day’s first meal and last Milano experience – cappuccino and sandwich (6 euros).

5:54 p.m. Clutching shopping bags in each hand, I stepped onto Lugano’s train platform. Nearby a Rolex wall clock marked the exact time.

Milan shopping tips:

Some Web sites to remember:

Shopping

www.travelplan.it/milan_guide_shopping.htm

www.fashion-411.com/Milan/Shopping_Milan.htm

Weather

www.citylightsnews.com

Transportation, sightseeing, entertainment

welmilano.itcons.com