As much as I love all things Italia, I just don't love being there when the cities are overflowing with tourists and cruise ship passengers. I much prefer to stroll the streets (and shops) of Rome, Florence, Milan and Venice when crowds are non-existent and Gucci's on sale. Yep, you heard me right. Twice a year (January and July), those in the know head to Italy for outrageously-discounted designer duds. In fact, the best retail bargains (handbags, shoes, clothes and more!) I've ever encountered pop up in shops all over Italy just post-Christmas. The super sales start the first week-end in January and airfares drop, too (note: Elite Travel Gal even found a $671 fare on a round-trip flight from JFK-FCO Jan 7-15th!).
Wondering where to stay during your shopping save-a-thon? In Milan, it's all about the 15th-century convent-turned-Four Seasons Hotel Milano (above), which caters to fashionistas (or sale-seeking recessionistas as the case may be), with a dedicated Shopping Package. Through January 15th, stay two nights (from 1300 Euros) and the third night is half price (from 325Euros). The deal includes daily breakfast, a 100Euro dining credit, 25 percent discount on limo service (ideal for getting around the fashion capital in cooler weather), and special shopping privileges at top boutiques exclusive to hotel guests.
Prefer to stay longer and city hop? You simply won't do better than the 6-night Baglioni Tour offered by Baglioni Hotels. Spend two nights at your choice of any three of the group's luxury hotels in Milan, Bologna, Venice, Verona, Florence (seen top right), Punta Ala and Rome (closed for major renovation through March) and the package rate starting at 2100Euros includes an impressive daily buffet breakfast in a beautiful "breakfast room", a special gift at each property, a dining or spa credit valued around $US50, and priority room upgrades when available. The 6-night stay must be completed within a two-week period, and rates may vary based on dates/hotels chosen and availability.
Trust us, the January sales in Italy are the best reason to book a flight to the boot-shaped country now. Contact us for additional insider tips on where to find the best booty. NB: We've got access to the best personal shoppers in Italy who are more than happy to lend a bag-carrying hand!