One of the most fabulous things a fashionista can do while in Tuscany is find her way to the Prada Outlet in Montevarchi.
For some reason most people seem to think this is a difficult spot to find, and as such waste shoe dollars on paying for a tour or a town car to get them there.
I say save your Prada dollars, rent a car, and make a gorgeous day of it.
Afterall, Prada at 70% discount is still expensive. And driving in Italy is both fun and fast!
The Prada Outlet, although hidden and secretly named, is a jewel not to be missed. Apparently the biggest Prada store in the world, this emporium is no typical outlet experience.
Beautifully laid out and immaculate with an enormous selection (when I was there anyway),
the impeccably Prada clad staff are super helpful and engaging.
I had all kinds of fun with sales assistants who emphatically removed items from me that they decided were less than flattering, and then en masse talked me into the sexiest red Prada dress I have ever seen. Just looking at it hanging in my closet takes my breath away.
Runway videos on giant flatscreens put you in the quintessential Prada frame of mind, and the runway music throughout the store reminds you that you are in the land of the luxe.
You get a numbered ticket at the entrance, which not only regulates the number of shoppers inside at any given time, but also serves as your personal identifier. You choose your items and hand them to the sales assistant who has them ready and waiting for you at the check out counter. No messy dragging around armfuls of clothes and shoes here.
If driving from Florence you can take a swift route down the autostrada and veer off to Montevarchi. I sincerely recommend allowing yourself some extra time, and leaving the autostrada at Poggibonsi, and taking yourself on an exquisite ride through the Chianti.
The views are breathtaking, and the little towns you pass through are to die for.
My favorite? Radda in Chianti. Stop in at the Dante Alighieri Bar/Enoteca for a cappucino en route,
or even better, on the way back sit out on the patio and have Fabrizio and Carolyn bring you lovely local wines and a perfect Tuscan late lunch. Heaven.
Once in Montevarchi get yourself onto Via Levanella Becorpi (easy to find – its one of the main streets) and drive approximately 3 kms. You’ll feel like you are halfway to nowhere, when on the left you’ll see a huge, white, modern factory style building. Turn left at the corner and drive to the end of the building. At the last gate you will see a parking lot filled with tour buses, chauffeur driven limos and towncars. And you will have reached Utopia!
The Prada Outlet is called Space – you won’t see a Prada sign from the street..
Although it initially feels tourista-geeky, everyone takes pictures outside with their black SPACE bags
even celebrity designer Michelle Mirkovich from Divinity Jewelry
One last piece of advice. Whatever you are planning on spending at the Prada Outlet, quadruple the amount.
The only shopper’s remorse I have felt both in Italy in general, and at the Prada Outlet, is for the things I didn’t buy, not for those that I did.
I’m already saving for the next round…