Milan is a shopping mecca. During my recent Italian trip I spent 2 days wandering around the sun-kissed streets on a pilgrimage to Prada (and friends). But I’m a (now freelance) travel blogger who has a taste for expensive things without the budget to match it. I like to enjoy the finer things in life; rich experiences yet real value for money. Milan was making me lust over designer goods I could never afford. I needed to get myself on the Shopping Express to Fidenza Village by Chic Outlet Shopping!
Chic Outlet Shopping is a concept I can get behind 100%. A bit like travelling first class when you only paid for an economy ticket, the designer stores at Fidenza Village come with all the style and service of the high street stores but without the hefty price tag.
Fidenza Village is situated about an hour outside of Milan, another hour from Bologna in the opposite direction. A bus runs daily from central Milan at 10am (pick up point is Autostradale Viaggi at Piazza Castello) and costs only 20 euros return for the approx. 1 hour and a half journey. It’s an easy journey along the motorway and visitors who take this service are entitled to a 10% discount off their shopping when they arrive (bonus!).
My first impression of the village was that it looked brand new; in fact it is almost 10 years old but just very well kept. The layout is a simple wide u-shape with one long shop lined street through the middle and strategically placed cafes and restaurants in the middle and on either end. The buildings are designed as an homage to film, art and opera, the passions of the original estate owner who turned his family’s derelict farm into a profitable studio. The effect is very dramatic; the shoppers are all cast in a glamorous movie. Dispersed throughout the high street are various pieces of modern art, something I would have taken longer to study had it not been a bit drizzly the day of my visit. Immediately in front of me as I entered Fidenza Village though was D&G and Michael Kors – some of my most favourite men in the world. I patted my purse and dove straight in.
This was my first experience of outlet shopping in Europe and immediately upon entering the first store all my negative illusions were dispersed. The boutiques in Fidenza Village look and feel just like their high-end counterparts in Milan city centre. The stores all had an elegant fit out and very courteous staff, which is something that Fidenza Village provides training to guarantee. The stock itself was also superb. Most goods are only one season old and all have been vetted to ensure no tat makes it onto the shelves. Designer brands including Furla, Missoni, Belstaff, Guess, Diesel, Calvin Klein, La Perla, Valentino and Armani all have outlets at Fidenza Village, stocking beautiful items for up to 70% off.
Not before long I was in need of some lunch. Barlumeria had caught my eye near the entrance of the village and the ham and cheese appetizer they served, followed by ricotta and spinach ravioli, certainly did not disappoint. Fine Italian designers and fine Italian food – the day was going well.
After lunch I wanted to learn more about the charitable side of fashion. Convivio is the brain chid of the late great Gianni Versace and is Italy’s most charitable non-profit institution supporting ANLANDS (Italy’s National Association for the Fight against HIV and AIDS.) For 3 months from the 16th October Fidenza Village is hosting a Convivio pop up boutique. Selling collection pieces from a variety of supporting designers including Versace, Fendi and Dior at 50% off the retail price, all sales generate significant revenue to ANLANDS.
I had fallen in love with a Michael Kors handbag though and after viewing all the other options and doing some sums I HAD to go back and get it. Feeling thoroughly indulged I decided to take it all the way and sunk into an armchair at Ca’puccino for a coffee and cake. There is free Wi-Fi throughout the village so I could scan through some emails whilst waiting for the shuttle back to Milan. At 6.30 it was time to board the bus and I peered a little enviously at the others passengers whose purchases required a seat all to themselves!
Arriving back in Milan that night the indulgent theme continued. I was staying at the Maison Moschino Design Hotel and my bed was a dress! A giant Moschino ball gown for a bed! I don’t think I have ever seen anything so divine in a hotel room before. The perfect place to retreat after a day of designer shopping, every detail in this hotel oozes fashion – the lamps in the lobby are shaped as gowns and the locks on the doors are shaped as hearts. Housed in an old railway station the rooms have different fairy-tale themes including a Red Riding Hood room that is said to come with a wolf in the bed! Doubles start from £140 per night (excluding breakfast) – spoil yourself!
Fidenza Village made me reassess everything I thought I knew about Outlet Shopping. It had all the style and service of the boutiques in Milan without the eye-watering price tags. The Shopping Express service from Milan central is easy, speedy and great value, giving you all the more time and money to spend in the shops. Rounding my day off in a bed in the form of a dress was simply the icing on the cake of a deliciously indulgent day.
Thanks to Chic Outlet Shopping for hosting my visit to Fidenza Village. All thoughts, opinions and handbags remain my own.