My motto lately has been "you only Italy once," even if that may not be true. We're wrapping up our time here in Vicenza, and I want to take back a piece of Italy with me — or 500. So, I've been on the antique market war path to try and find beautiful, unique, I-can-only-get-this-in-Italy items to take back to America with us. Does our checkbook care? Yeah, we're ignoring that. Do people still say the word checkbook? Ignoring that, too.
I've hoarded my list of antique stores the entire time I've lived here, compiling recommendations from friends who love the thrill of the find as much as I do. I haven't shared it publicly because I've noticed a bit that Americans aren't great at haggling, and will kind of pay whatever for anything. And of course, it's capitalism baby — things are worth what you'll pay for them! But prices tend to go up at places that Americans make popular, which is kind of a bummer. So, to protect my own wallet, I hid my list and only shared it with close friends. But, we're on our way out now, so, allora! Here you all go! Spend away and happy thrifting!
FAVORITE SECONDHAND STORES
- "Prison thrift" (Insieme Sociale Cooperative):
- This is one of my favorite thrift stores in Vicenza. It's super close to base, and a lot of people think their prices are hiked up at times, but I always manage to find really cheap finds, like a 15€ woven rug, Christmas stockings for 1€ or a lot of really great vintage clothes for under 10€. Their inventory changes frequently too, so it's good to look frequently! They also are sort of operated like a Salvation Army, so they do a lot of help to the community and you can even donate your own things there when you move!
- Address: Via Basilio Dalla Scola, 255, Vicenza
- Hours: Tues-Sat 9:30-12:30, M-Sat 3:30-7:30
- Good for: Household items and vintage clothing
- Brendola thrift store (Mercatino dell'usato):
- For some reason, the word isn't out as much about this thrift store, but it's a great one. It has a good mix of cheap, small items and huge, gorgeous antique pieces. The prices are totally all over the place, and expect to pay for the furniture, but the smaller items are incredibly well-priced.
- Address: Piazzetta Risorgive, 23, Brendola
- Hours: Tues-Sat 10-12:30, 3:30-7:30
- Good for: Big furniture and home decor
- Marola thrift store (Mercatino dell'usato):
- This is a pretty standard thrift store, with a lot of junk but a lot of good finds. If you're looking for things to start your 220V appliance collection, it's a great place to start, but they also have some unique things every once in a while!
- Address: Via dal Ponte, 128, Torri di Quartesolo
- Hours: Tues-Sun 9:30-12:30, 3-7:30
- Good for: Kitchen items and necessities
- This thrift store looks a little weird from the outside, but has a ton of great stuff. They have standard thrifted items in the front, but in the basement, they have more curated furniture and antiques. Definitely something in there for all budgets, and it's huge!
- Address: Via Vicenza, 23, Vedelago (near Castelfranco)
- Hours: Every day, 9:30-12:30, 3:30-7:30
- Good for: Furniture and kitchen items
- "Claudios" (Restauro Antichità Montesin):
- Claudio's is a Vicenza staple (though it's located closer to Este!) because of his well-curated shop. He has a lot of really old items, and he's reliable for having gorgeous bread bowls, seltzer bottles and unique demijohns. His English is limited, but don't be afraid to haggle! He's definitely got the best prices and selection on demijohns around — it's where you can find all those unique colors.
- Address: Via Maggiore, 32, 35045 Ospedaletto Euganeo PD
- Hours: Mon-Sat, 8-6 (ring the bell to have the gate opened)
- Good for: Bread bowls, demijohns and seltzer bottles
- Mercatino dell' Antiquariato e del Collezionismo:
- This antique store has a lot of really gorgeous pieces in it. We bought our Italian work bench here after literally searching for two years, and definitely found the best prices we'd seen yet (between 200-500€, versus the 700-1000€ they were wanting at antique markets). I've been back many times and do love this place, though their prices have come up a lot in the last few years. Don't be afraid to haggle, and know their demijohns are some of the cheapest around (5-7€), but also expect to fork over a pretty penny for some of the gorgeous wooden Italian antiques he has. Don't worry about getting it home — they offer delivery!
- Address: Via Piave, 27, Altivole (near Castelfranco)
- Hours: Thurs-Sun, 9:30-12:30, 3-7
- Good for: Work benches, cheap green demijohns and large furniture
- Mercato Riviera:
- This antique store is on the smaller side, but it's fun to sift through! They've got a lot of fun smaller items in there, and it's all well-curated.
- Address: Via Giuseppe Ferrari 24, Vicenza
- Hours: Tues-Sat 9:30-12:30, 3:30-7
- Good for: Home decor and small furniture
FAVORITE ANTIQUE MARKETS:
Antique markets in Italy are where it's at. You get access to a ton of different vendors with a huge variety of stuff and a big ol' variance in pricing. Don't be afraid to haggle in Italy — most of the items at antique markets won't be priced, so you'll have to ask how much things are ("Quanta costa?"). Always have cash on hand and know your numbers in Italian! The haggle isn't too serious — you'll usually go back and forth one or two times before settling on a price, but Italians are also usually not interested in selling things for less than they think it's worth, so they typically have the upper hand!
- Vicenza antique market:
- Address: Piazza dei Signori and surrounding streets
- Hours: All day, continuous hours, until 5 p.m. on the second Sunday of every month
- Soave antique market:
- Address: Piazza Antonio Marogna and Corso Vittorio Emanuele
- Hours: All day, continuous hours, until 5 p.m. on the third Sunday of every month
- Piazzola sul Brenta antique market:
- Address (for parking): Via Vitt. Eman., 12, Piazzola sul Brenta
- Hours: All day, continuous hours, until 5 p.m. on the last Sunday of every month
Also, I put together this giant Google map of antique stores in the Vicenza area, plus some out near Treviso, Verona and in Padova. It's been color coded, so the ones that are red are ones I've visited and are worth going to (the ones that are black aren't so great), and then ones that are purple, I haven't been to yet. Add your comments if you've visited them and if they're worth it or not! You can save the Google map in your Google app on your phone or in your own maps on your Google account.
FAVORITE PLACE FOR SOUVENIRS:
Before you leave Italy, I imagine you'll want to bring back as much of the country and its beautiful craftmanship with you. These are some of my favorite local brands in Italy that make really gorgeous items that are unique to Vicenza both in quality and in price!
- Nove is actually an entire town and it's known for ceramics! It's a pretty unique place and you can find some really expensive ceramics here for very cheap. It's a great place for gifts like wedding presents, or even to buy your own china set if you never got around to it! Some of the local shops makes ceramics for big American companies that are marked up like 500% at home, like VBC, who makes Tiffany ceramics, or Elios, who makes items for Anthropologie. It's definitely worth the short trip from Ederle (less than 30 minutes) to go and find some beautiful pieces.
- Notable shops:
- Hours: Most shops are closed on holidays and closed for riposo, so check before you go!
- Del Conte:
- This leather purse factory is one of my favorite places to take guests in Vicenza. It's so fun to roll up to a random, unassuming factory and take your visitors to a back room full of amazing leather bags. You can stop in their showroom to make a custom bag, or buy one off the rack in the back. They also do tours if you have a large group, and you can see the bags being made as you're visiting! Their quality is amazing, and a Del Conte bag will be something you cherish for a long time — if you can manage to only buy one!
- Address: Via Cartiera, 157, Dueville
- Hours: Closed for riposo. Contact Anna at 340 387 1715 for appointments.
- Another purse factory! Yeah, you're going to get yourself in trouble, but you only Italy once, right? Nicoli isn't far from Del Conte — about 5 minutes — and it's also another unassuming warehouse full of glorious, fine leather goods. Their quality is a little lesser than Del Conte (but still way better than anything you'll find for the price in the states), but so are their prices, and they have some ~mondo~ sales pretty frequently, including their ever-popular 3 for 100€ sale (it's always fun to go with a friend!). They have a great newsletter you can sign up for to get their sale info, and the ladies in there are super sweet.
- Address: Via Piave, 18, Dueville
- Hours: Mon-Fri, 8-12, 2-6:30 and Sat-Sun, 9-12.
- The grocery store:
- I ~love~ sending boxes of goodies, and I love even more that I can fill up care packages with boxes of fun, beautiful things from the grocery store. Visiting grocery stores in foreign countries is one of my favorite things to do, but I still never tire of going to the local Italian grocery store, even as many times as I've been!
- Favorite things to mail: Vacuum-sealed hard cheeses, like parmigianno reggiano or grana padano, Pocket Coffee chocolates, Kinder chocolates (Bueno bars and Hippos are popular with my family), olive wood cutting boards or bowls, tiny espresso cups, milk frothers, Moka coffee pots, beautifully-packaged pasta (especially regional kinds like bigoli) Milka chocolate bars (not Italian, but still fun), taralli crackers, breadsticks, balsamic vinegar and tiny jars of jam and mostardo to go with cheese (pear is my favorite).
- Notable shops:
- Lidl - Technically a German grocery chain, but they have a cult-like following for a reason! I love their fun snacks and candies that make great care package additions. It's localed in the Piramidi Mall. Via Pola, 20, Torri di Quartesolo
- Il Ceppo: This is a sort of deli/lunch place (and one of my favorite restaurants in Vicenza!) but they have a gorgeous selection of gourmet grocery items for sale! Corso Andrea Palladio, 196, Vicenza
- Iper Rossetto: This is a large grocery store chain (with amazing covered parking). They also offer 10% the entire store on the last Wednesday of the month! Via Pola, 20, Torri di Quartesolo
- Emisfero: Another grocery store chain located in the Palladio Mall, but they also have a small electronics and home decor section that makes it easy to find non-food gifts. I call it Vicenza's Wal-Mart. Centro Commerciale Palladio, Str. Padana verso Padova, 60, Vicenza
- Il Pane di Tonello: Just a tiny grocery store right off the piazza downtown, but they have some really pretty gourmet goods there, and a lot of stuff local to Vicenza! Contrà Santa Barbara, 12, Vicenza
- Dal Toso copper:
- Hands down one of my favorite places in all of Vicenza, Alessandro Dal Toso's copper shop is a one-of-a-kind place. Alessandro and his octogenarian father are coppersmiths that handmake a ton of seriously beautiful copper pieces. They make a lot of beautiful cookware, but also have jewelry, signs, champagne chillers, and drinkware, too. I bought myself an entire set of pots and pans before I left and they are so beautiful and unique — and cook so quickly! Make sure you order your items with plenty of time, though — you can buy some things off the rack, but many of his pieces are made to order and since Alessandro is like, hammering copper, it can take a couple of weeks for a custom piece.
- Address: Via Livio Zambeccari, 29, Vicenza
- Hours: 8:15-12:30 every day but Sunday, 3:15-7:15 every weekday
- Cooking with Lucas' pantry:
- Lucas is known for his cooking classes, but he's also gotten into the business of selling unique pieces out of his kitchen! He sells Dal Toso copper in his store, but also curates a gorgeous selection of Polish pottery that he brings back from Boleslawiec. You can also find really unique coffee pots and other pretty kitchen items in his shop.
- Contact: Via Facebook
- Hours: By appointment
Photos and text © Katie Currid, 2017. All rights reserved.