While I was playing tour guide to three of my SA friends, they kept expressing interest in visiting some of the outlet stores where last season’s leftovers could be bought at a much reduced price. There wasn’t a lot of time in our itinerary to fit in a full day of this, and I actually hadn’t been to the outlet centres outside Milan so I couldn’t really give them an honest opinion as to whether or not it would be a worthwhile trip, besides, I would feel terrible if we had gone all that way just to end up disappointed and empty-handed.
To experience the what, where and how for myself, I decided to board the daily shuttle to Vicolungo in the Novara area and on arrival, I realised that it wasn’t what I expected; firstly, it’s an open-air shopping centre set up of 150 outlets but without the chaos and heaps of jumbled merchandise to sift through. I was pleasantly surprised at the calm atmosphere and friendly sales assistants who gave me time and space to decide on purchases – which by the way are not too last-season either.
Naturally, my first stop was the Armani outlet because the pink and black peep-toe shoes in the window attracted me instantly, and also because they occupy a prime spot near the main entrance. I noticed that all items displayed a retail price followed by the special outlet price. This really helps to see exactly how much money one saves and yes, the discount really can be as much as 70% off.
I must have spent at least 45 minutes in the Baldinini footwear store deliberating between two very similar thick-heeled models ideal for walking across Milan’s grill covers and cobbled streets; an elegant, classic pump and a boyish lace-up. I settled on the pump because it would look great with trousers, dresses and skirts of all lengths. It can be worn in the summer too and the style will never date. The boot would be limited to skirts above the knee and pants – just not practical enough. I got a further 10% off thanks to a shopper’s card that’s included in the organising travel agency’s deal and of course, I get to claim my tax back for purchases over 150 Euros.
All the energy that shopping consumed needed to be replenished, so I gave the other 7 food places a skip and indulged in cioccolato fondente flavoured ice cream from the only Lindt Gelateria that I have ever come across.
Until 16:30, when it was time to leave, I had walked the place flat in 5 hours – more than enough time to get a lot more than I planned on, including baby growers for new members of the family, Swarovski earrings and Guerlain lipsticks. I had to leave the cutest little pair of Roberto Cavalli booties because my niece’s size was out of stock, and even wave goodbye to a colourful patchwork Braccialini bag and glitzy Barachini pair from the multi-brand Corso Roma outlet due to serious concerns over my luggage weight.
Getting there is easy!
– Get to Milan’s Cairoli Metro point on the red line (one stop away from Cadorna Station on tram 1).
– You will find the travel agency, Zani Viaggi on the corner just across on Foro Bonaparte, 76.
– Buy your ticket for about 20 Euros. The black bus leaves at 10:30 and returns to Milan at 16:30
– Travel time to Vicolungo is about 1 hour each way.