North, West, South: a visit may mean venturing beyond Milan but its bargain-filled outlet shops, brimming over with the most glorious pick of fashion brands that you’re ever likely to see, are sure to be worth the trip.
Together with Paris, London and New York, Milan is considered one of the world capitals of fashion. It is most certainly due to its famed and fabled Quadrilatero. It is unquestionably due to its swarming historic centre. It is also definitely by virtue of its thousands of glittering window displays scattered throughout the city and its uberluxe department stores. However, as loads of Milanese and even more visitors passing through know, if Milan is perceived as a global crossroads of fashion-forward purchases, this is also due to the fabulous outlets surrounding it: real shopping cities, accessibile in just one hour by road, connected and within easy reach thanks to dedicated shuttles and capable of offering a concentration of prestigious brands that is so dense that it will literally make your head spin. All boasting the outlet formula which guarantees great savings thus meaning that you can buy even more!
The five deluxe outlets (Serravalle, Vicolungo, Fidenza, FoxTown and Franciacorta) have been conceived as relaxed shopping havens where you can spend an entire day (and a day can fly by if you’re bitten by the bug of see-try-purchase) and, what’s more in the event of shopping not sufficing, they also offer a rich programme of events and other entertainment, thereby giving you a chance to explore their surroundings, savour Italian cuisine or simply enjoy a little music. Each one has its own characteristics: here is a quick, “no regrets”, guide to help narrow down your choice. Conversely, and why not, veteran shopaholics might be tempted to try them all out, one after another…
SERRAVALLE DESIGNER OUTLET
Let’s start with the largest, Serravalle Designer Outlet: not only the largest of the four, but also the largest in Europe. It was also one of the first to be built, thereby accounting for its stellar status. Located in the province of Alessandria, about 50 minutes from Milan in a westerly direction, this attractive, open-air hamlet is designed like a small medieval town, reflecting the architecture of the spectacular attractions surrounding it. A magnet to shoppers from across the globe, it offers a raft of more than 300 brands at 30 to 70% off. Giving examples is truly difficult due to the abundance of luxury labels on offer. However, for starters, big-name brands of the calibre of Blumarine, Brooks Brothers, Calvin Klein, Harmont & Blaine, Guess, Jeckerson and Swarovski are probably enough just to give you an idea.
How to get there: take the A7 Milano- Genova motorway and exit at Serravalle Scrivia.
The outlet can also be accessed by a daily shuttle service – Zani Viaggi – Milan Visitor Center: departures from Centrale Railway Station at 9am, 9.30am, 10.30am and 1 pm or Largo Cairoli/via Cusani 18 at 9.30am,10am, 11am, 1.30pm. www.zaniviaggi.it
For more info: mcarthurglen.it/serravalle
FIDENZA VILLAGE CHICH OUTLET SHOPPING
NEWS: Please note that starting from 2018 this outlet is known as Fidenza Village
Fidenza Village is part of the Collection of Chic Outlet Shopping Villages scattered throughout the world, from London to Paris, from Madrid to Frankfurt, from Brussels to Shangai. In Italy, it is situated midway between Milan and Bologna, at just an hour’s distance from both. Set in the picturesque countryside of Emilia-Romagna, it boasts an enticing, holiday-like atmosphere further enhanced thanks to a series of initiatives associated with food and country living, including bike excursions in discovery of its rich attractions nearby. The real draw? Its 100 fantastic stores offering the reduced price collections (in this case too, up to 70%) of bigname brands of the calibre of Valentino, Paul Smith, Missoni and Michael Kors.
How to get there: take the A1 motorway and exit at Fidenza/Salsomaggiore Terme.
Daily “Shopping Express” shuttle bus also available
For more info: www.fidenzavillage.com
VICOLUNGO THE STYLE OUTLETS
Lying at a distance of just 30km, this is absolutely the closest outlet to Milan. The boutiques at this modern, open-air village number as many as 150 and include clothing for the whole family, but also homeware, cosmetics, wellness options and accessories. Over the past few years, Vicolungo has begun to focus more strongly on cult sportswear for winter sports aficionados with brands on offer including Timberland, The North Face, Napapijri, Colmar, Dolomite and Salomon, to mention but a few. Here too, discounts range from 30 to 70% depending on the products available. Its main restaurant offers romantics the option of dining under the stars.
How to get there: take the A4 Milano-Torino motorway and exit at Biandrate Vicolungo.
The outlet can also be accessed by a daily shuttle service – Zani Viaggi – Milan Visitor Center: departure at 10.30am from Largo Cairoli / Via Cusani 18, M1 Cairoli-M2 Lanza. www.zaniviaggi.it
For more info: www.thestyleoutlets.com
FOXTOWN FACTORY STORE
Although FowTown is located at a distance of just one hour from Milan, it, nevertheless, lies outside of Italy, across the Swiss border, in Mendrisio (remember to bring your passport or ID card). Out of the cluster of four “Milanese” outlets, this is the only indoor venue: rather than being structured like a village, it takes the form of a classic shopping mall. Its 160 stores offer every imaginable brand that you could wish for including Gucci, Prada, Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, Dior, Polo Ralph Lauren, Lacoste, Burberry, Nike and Tommy Hilfiger, as well as two fab new entries, Brooks Brothers and Furla. Other on-site amenities include seven bars and restaurants and a Casino. Here too, discounts range from 30 to 70%. However, beware of prices which, in this case, are expressed in Swiss francs (the approximate exchange rate is 1 EUR = 1.20 CHF. Exchange office available at the Center). In addition to accepting all major credit cards (CUP, Visa, MasterCard, JCB, American Express, Visa Electron), FoxTown also offers an on-site Tax- Free service.
How to get there: take the Milano-Lugano motorway and exit at Mendrisio.
The outlet can also be accessed by a daily shuttle service – Zani Viaggi – Milan Visitor Center: departure at 2pm from Largo Cairoli / Via Cusani 18, M1 Cairoli-M2 Lanza. www.zaniviaggi.it
For more info: www.foxtown.com
FRANCIACORTA OUTLET VILLAGE
Situated just 70 minutes from Milan, in the province of Brescia, Franciacorta Outlet Village is located in a beautiful land of flavours to be discovered.
How to get there: take the motorway A35 Milano-Brescia, exit Venezia-Piacenza, then take highway SP19, direction Via del Borgo.
Brescia train station is near bus station Autolinee SIA. Here you can take the bus of line LS029 (Brescia – Ome – Monticelli Brusati).
For more info: www.franciacortaoutlet.it
Please note that guest enjoying the shuttle service need to return on the same bus they departed from, in order not to exceed in the seats available.
Save the Date!
During winter and spring sales “Extra savings” with additional discounts at most stores. However, please take note: 1 August is a Swiss national holiday as well as one of the few days that Foxtown is closed.
By Elena Binda