Shopping Guide

Shops are open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 3:30 or 4 p.m. to 7:30 or 8 p.m., with some variation in Northern Italy (Milan, Turin), where the lunch break is shorter and shops close earlier. Prices are reasonable and the quality of goods is usually high. Chain stores such as La Rinascente, Coin, Upim, and Standa are found in many Italian cities and towns.

Some excellent purchase options are: Clothes for men and women (dresses, shoes, gloves, silk ties, shirts); lacework, jewelry, leather goods (handbags, cases, boxes, luggage), ceramics, gold and silver hems, alabaster, woodwork, straw, embroidery, glass and crystal ware.

It is advisable to carry merchandise purchased with you in order to avoid any inconvenience.

I.V.A. (SALES TAX) REBATE ON PURCHASES MADE IN ITALY BY FOREIGN TOURISTS:

Foreign tourists making acquisitions in Italy can claim an I.V.A. (sales tax) rebate, provided that more than 155 Euro is spent at the same store on the same day. If this is the case, ask the vendor for a proper receipt describing the merchandise purchased and stating the amount of tax paid. When you leave Europe (no later than 90 days after the date of the purchase), show your receipt to Customs and have them stamp it. Then mail the receipt to the vendor, who should forward the I.V.A. rebate to you. On a $1000.-purchase, you should get about $115-160. back.

If you do not receive a response from the vendor, DO complain to the nearest Italian Embassy. European authorities are trying very hard to make this program work.

An even better alternative is to shop in stores displaying the Global Refund (Tax-Free Shopping) sticker. Basically the process is the same, except that the vendor will issue you a Tax-Free Shopping Check upon seeing your passport. Then, when you leave the last European country on your trip, show your receipts at Customs. They will stamp your checks and you can obtain your refund at an ETS desk, by mail or by transfer to your credit card account.

A word to the wise about I.V.A. rebates: allow plenty of time at the airport to process your claim!

Here are some refund points in Italy.