I am not a big shopper. I normally prefer to spend my money on “experiences” when I travel; good food, day trips, boat rides, etc. On the other hand, I usually come back from Italy with a new prized possession or two. My favourite purchases have been in Como, Bellagio, and across the border at the Fox Town Outlets in Mendrisio, Switzerland.
I do not usually go out purposely looking for something to buy. Rather, I find myself enjoying a wonderful day out when something catches my eye and I simply “go for it”. Let’s face it, you cannot go to Como, the ‘City of Silk’, without buying at least a silk scarf or two, or a stunning silk tie for a loved one. The same is true of Belaggio where so many shops offer every colour and design you could wish for, all light as a feather silk, that will not tip you over your baggage allowance. Such items will also not break the bank and the more you buy the bigger the discount they offer. I can recommend Boutique Patrizia under the portico at Piazza Giuseppe Mazzini, 28 in Belaggio. They do a great deal. I find it difficult, therefore, to resist buying “just one more” for auntie so-and-so.
My other weakness is Italian shoes and handbags. I suppose I am not alone in this respect. I have a favourite shoe shop in Belaggio. I only wish I could remember the name of it! It is tiny and is at the top of the hill as you climb the steps away from the lake. I found it when I reached the top of the steps and stood back to catch my breath. Facing me was a little tiny, old-fashioned, shoe shop with a window full of designs that I liked. So, of course, I had to go in for a closer look. The soft, supple leather, the fit, the style! I left with two pairs of shoes that immediately became the staple of my wardrobe. I still wear them regularly now, over two years later, and they are in great condition. What an investment! You will also find a couple of lovely shoe shops in the centre of Menaggio. I have made purchases there that I am equally happy with. However, I still return to the tiny shop in Belaggio as they have such a wide range of styles. The same shops sell great handbags, but then most fashion shops seem to carry handbags to compliment their outfits.
Apart from silk and leather, you will find that there are some classic souvenirs on offer that will tempt you. In my case, I love colourful Murano glass. Originally from Venice, you can now find Murano glass in many shops locally in all shapes and forms; ornaments, jewellery, chandeliers, even Christmas decorations. So many shops carry these products that you will find it hard to choose where and what to buy, but a small item to take home as a constant reminder of the lake is something I don’t think you will regret. By the way, also look out for beautifully crafted wooden items, especially trays and bowls. There are shops full of them!
Another significant purchase I made while staying at Lake Como was actually not in Italy at all but in Switzerland. I went to Fox Town one rainy day and bought a down duvet and Italian cotton sheets. I know, it doesn’t sound very exciting, but I have luxuriated in them almost every day for the past two years. There is nothing quite like a real down duvet. Speaking of Fox Town, it is packed full of designer shops and is highly popular with shoppers in the region. If you know what you want, you will probably find it there and at a good price. It really is a good idea for a rainy day outing, especially if you have a car, and they are open seven days a week. I think it took about one hour and twenty minutes to drive from Menaggio (carefully in the rain), but I may not have taken the quickest route. You can also take the bus or train to Fox Town. Check their website for clarification.