There’s something about shopping that brings women together. My daughter Katherine and I discovered this last year while searching for her perfect wedding dress in New York. We found the dress and at the same time found an even stronger connection between us. After the chaos of her wedding wore down, we decided it was time to plan another shopping trip.
We began our trip in Milan, visiting the gothic walls of the Duomo and savoring a cup of authentic Italian espresso at a café on Via dell’Orso. Then we moved on to Armani, Prada, the Quadrilatero d’Oro (Milan’s fashion district), and Corso Buenos Aires, the street rumored to have more stores per square foot than anywhere else on earth.
We couldn’t leave Milan without a stop at Il Salvagente and the Vestistock Due outlets— which offer designer brands at prices that agree as much with our pocketbooks as with our fashion sense. Shopping in Milan was by no means cheap, but it felt so exotic to browse for Italian leather as women greeted each other with kisses from cheek to cheek and sweet sounding Italian words drifted through the air.
While Milan was our soft spot for fashion, in Florence and Venice our shopping quest gave way to an artistic and creative side. Florence, home to the magnificent Uffizi and Academy Galleries, was a classic mixture of art, history and typical Italian charm. Being in the presence of the Duomo, the statue of David and the Ponte Vecchio, we were inspired to find our own piece of Italian art history.
Katherine and I found ourselves at the Oltrarno, a district of Florence where artisans have lived and worked for years and where antique shops lined the cobblestone streets. Showrooms such as Gallori-Turchi and Guido Bartolozzi Antichità displayed antiques ranging from small ceramic pieces to furniture dating back to the 1700s. We perused the stores and dreamed of a house filled with hand-crafted Italian furniture.
In Venice, our shopping interests turned to the bright, colorful and extravagant. From Murano glass in every shape, size and structure to the city’s famous Carnival masks, the shops of Venice were a rainbow of vibrantly-colored souvenirs. With a brilliant yellow and green vase resting on my mantle at home, I am now continuously reminded of the excitement and enthusiasm of Venice and its landmarks. The vibrancy of its colors reminds me of the continuous flow of energy through St. Mark’s Square and the colorful stalls of the Rialto Market.
In the end, I came home with a vase from Venice, a Gucci purse from Milan and beautiful handmade paper from Florence. Katherine filled her suitcase with everything from shirts to belts to ties labeled with names I couldn’t even pronounce. And while we enjoyed the gifts we brought home, the real treasure of our trip was the time Katherine and I spent together. Bouncing from boutique to café to museum, I realized that the connection Katherine and I share is not one based on Prada and Versace but a bond shared only by a mother and a daughter.