virtuoso global How to Dress Like an Italian

How to Dress Like an Italian

From Venice to Palermo, shop for precise accessories and bold style statements.<br />
 
From Venice to Palermo, shop for precise accessories and bold style statements.
 
Photo by Getty Images
On a shopping spree through Italy, where to pick up five quintessentially Italian fashion must-haves.

Italy comes by its style powerhouse reputation honestly. It’s the birthplace of Donatella Versace and Emilio Pucci, and home to brands such as Prada and Valentino. Milan is renowned for its bi-annual fashion week, which attracts trendsetters from around the world. Simply put, “Fashion and design are incorporated into Italy’s DNA,” Virtuoso travel advisor and Milan native Tiziana Ferrari says.
 
From the silk scarf down to the leather boots, here’s where to shop for five key Italian wardrobe pieces and bring a little of the country’s flair home.

A Silk Scarf (or Three) in Como

In the Lombardy region of Italy, Lake Como attracts travelers with sumptuous villas, natural landscapes, and excellent shopping.
In the Lombardy region of Italy, Lake Como attracts travelers with sumptuous villas, natural landscapes, and excellent shopping.
Photo by Getty Images 

In northern Italy, Como counts George Clooney among its summer residents and entices travelers with one of Europe’s largest lakes (and most glamorous addresses) . One of its signature exports: silk. The region is home to 800 companies involved in the silk trade, including Ratti, a leading luxury textile producer since 1945, and Frey, which has been crafting silk scarves for since 1899. The city itself employs some 23,000 local silk manufacturers, who craft products for brands across the globe, from Armani to Hermes to Ungaro, and beyond. At Como’s Educational Silk Museum, visitors can learn about the delicate process of spinning slender silkworm threads into feather-light silk for scarves.
 
Find a statement scarf – or three – at the Ratti outlet or in local boutiques, such as Azalea Silk of Como or A. Picci.

Jewelry in Rome 

Rome is brimming with opportunities to take home one-of-a-kind hand-crafted jewelry, from gold bracelets to colorful beaded necklaces – all within the Centro Storico district. A five-minute stroll from the Tiber River, Co.Ro. Jewels, helmed by locals Costanza De Cecco and Giulia Giannini, who employ their architectural-design backgrounds to construct jewelry that echoes renowned local structures. (The name Co.Ro. derives from the Collegio Romano, a cobblestoned square next to the Pantheon where the founders met as teenagers). The shop’s square, rose-gold-plated silver Collosseo Qudrato Ring pays homage to the Colosseum.

Co.Ro. Jewels’ gold-plated Portici Cuff is modeled after the cloisters at the Roman College in Rome.
Co.Ro. Jewels’ gold-plated Portici Cuff is modeled after the cloisters at the Roman College in Rome.
Photo by Co.Ro. Jewels

For a more contemporary look, visitors can browse the petite-but-punchy rings and necklaces at Delfina Delettrez, a steampunk-inspired local favorite since 2007. The brand’s designs include a signature “phantom setting,” which gives the illusion of floating jewels, as seen in original pieces such as the Two in One Diamonds Ring.
 
Traditionalists should visit Nicotra Di San Giacomo for silver jewelry hand-woven with silk and gold via a process that’s said to date back to Renaissance-era techniques.

A Coffa Bag in Palermo 

Travelers can bring home a bottle of malvasia wine or a bag of dried pasta, but for a wearable memento of Sicily, it has to be the traditional Sicilian coffa bag. Stemming from the Arabic word quffa, which means “basket,” this accessory is a playful nod to the era when farmers used woven straw baskets as feed bags for horses. 

A typical <em>bancarella</em>, or shopping stall, shows Palermo <em>coffa</em> bags and other traditional keepsakes.
A typical bancarella, or shopping stall, shows Palermo coffa bags and other traditional keepsakes.
Photo by Getty Images

Today, the coffa has been reimagined as a handbag and is typically crafted from dwarf palm straw. Produced by local artisans and high-fashion brands alike (Dolce & Gabbana has created its own interpretation), modern coffa bags are typically embroidered and decorated with elements such as flowers, pom poms, bells, and mirrors. Travelers can buy coffa bags in Palermo boutiques such as Lucia Perricone’s shop on Via Filippo Juvara, which sells versions such as the Sicilian Princess bag, embellished with handmade lace, rhinestones, diamonds, and mirror inserts. The Palermo-based online boutique Sicily Bag carries renditions handcrafted in the city.

Sicily Bag’s Gigi CCLVI incorporates hand-sewn fabrics and colorful adornments that mimic traditional regional accessories on horse carts.
Sicily Bag’s Gigi CCLVI incorporates hand-sewn fabrics and colorful adornments that mimic traditional regional accessories on horse carts.
Photo by Sicily Bags

A Negligee in Venice 

Venice is a town built on amorous exploits: Giacomo Casanova’s scandalous escapades, countless forbidden-love novels, and of course, romantic scenes of canals, cobblestones, and singing gondoliers. It’s a fitting place to shop for accessories to match the mood. “Venice can be very romantic in the off season,” Virtuoso travel advisor September Holstad says. “There isn’t anything as wonderful as getting lost in the maze of Venice, only to discover a campo or piazza where you’re the only visitor.” 

Sunrise bathes the Grand Canal and Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore with gentle morning light.
Sunrise bathes the Grand Canal and Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore with gentle morning light.
Photo by Getty Images 

On the Calle delle Ostreghe canal, local standard-bearer Cristina Linassi offers glamorous 1950s and ’60s-inspired robes and nighties in creamy silks, delicate laces, and cool cotton. The atelier began as a linen boutique; today, shoppers can also collaborate with Linassi to create bespoke pieces for dining and bedding collections. 

Venetian atelier Cristina Linassi outfits lounge-worthy negligee in shades such as faint pink, soft blue, and champagne.
Venetian atelier Cristina Linassi outfits lounge-worthy negligee in shades such as faint pink, soft blue, and champagne.
Photo by Cristina Linassi

Shoes in Milan 

Italy knows how to do leather. While Milanese shoes are exported globally, a trip to the fashion capital of the world offers a chance to purchase an authentic pair. Try the Quadrilatero d’Oro district or peruse the four-story, nineteenth-century Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II shopping center. Travelers can also browse one of the city’s many street fairs, such as the Fiera di Sinigaglia Saturday market; stroll the Corso Buenos Aires (Milan’s largest shopping street); or window-shop down Via Torino, a district popular for its footwear options.

In Milan, the four-story Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is a historic shopping paradise.
In Milan, the four-story Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is a historic shopping paradise.
Photo by Getty Images

To further explore Milan’s style scene, Virtuoso travel advisor and Milan resident Chiara Zampogna recommends taking an aperitivo at the 10 Corso Como caf茅. “It’s an art-and-fashion establishment created by Carla Sozzani, a former editor-in-chief of Vogue Italia magazine,” she says. “It’s one of my favorite spots and the perfect place to get inspired while having a coffee or glass of wine.”

During Milan’s most recent Fashion Week, knee-high leather boots reigned supreme.
To get an authentic pair, head to the Via Monte Napoleone to visit Santoni for its tapered over-the-knee boot in nappa leather, or cross the road to the Gucci shop (one of three in the city) and try on the Zumi leather knee boot.

Popular Articles

You may also like...

|