Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Prada, Gucci, and Fendi - OH MY!

Ok - this was not on the original itinerary however, for me it was a long over due trip. So I was quite happy when a few in our group asked about visiting the designer outlet stores outside of Florence. Plus, I soon realized I was in the company of professional outlet shoppers! Our first stop was "The Mall" near Leccio with such stores as Gucci, Fendi, Giorgio Armani, Ferragamo and many more. It was a delightful layout and the shoppers were few. I could see them plotting and planning their attack with great intent and such finesse so as not to miss a thing.

We did a bit of research prior and learned that January and July are the best months to visit as the designers change over their inventory in the major city stores. In addition, it is best to stay away on the weekends as this is when most Italians are searching for their own bargains.

So with a good deal of elbow room on this Tuesday in May, bright sunshine, and eager pocketbooks, the ladies set out to explore. In a few hours time, they returned with big bags and bigger smiles - not only because of their new-found treasures, but because we still had time to go to the Prada Outlet!

We refueled at the wonderful cafe before leaving. No food court here. We are in Italy so of course we had great salads, pastries, pizza, paninis and more at the bar, and a full service restaurant upstairs for those with more time.

We ate quite quickly and hit the road to find Prada near Montevarchi. From what I read, it was going to be a bit of a challenge as there are virtually no signs. I was lucky to have an able co pilot in the right seat to read the four pages of directions to me from my blackberry. The traffic was brutal but we were determined. The outlet closed at 7:30pm and it was just after 6. Where there is a will, there is a way. And we had three strong wills in the van!

We finally saw the gas station and flashing yellow light as described in the directions. Still no sign for Prada. Actually, the first time we even saw the name Prada was on the handbags once inside! The outlet is known as "Space". We parked the car along the giant dark gray and black building in the industrial zone and made our way quickly to the door after picking a number. Because it was late, we were able to walk right in... and walk right in we did. Our mouths dropped to the floor only a few feet past the door. There in front of us was the most beautiful display of handbags any of us had ever seen. Gorgeous soft leather in a subtle, sexy orange, crimson, and sage. We were surrounded by aisles of Prada clothes, jewelry, perfume, makeup, eyewear, belts, shoes, and did I mention the bags??? Lots and lots of beautiful bags!

We had only an hour to look around... and we were a bit overwhelmed by it all. But we could do this! The giant clock behind the cashier was ticking and the staff reminded us too often of the impending closing time. The ladies got to work helping each other to find the perfect treasure like loyal teammates playing together in a championship game. And in the end, victory! Sweet victory!

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