The Genteel
November 23, 2017
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Best Kept Secrets

Your mission: find this stall at the Desenzano del Garda market.

If you have ever travelled around Italy, you know that the fantastic shopping along via Montenapoleone and via Condotti might result in dreading the sight of your bank balance once back home. Well, we Italians have many tricks up our sleeves to achieve that effortless Italian casual chic, without breaking the bank. You will need to be adventurous and ready to wander off the usual Milan-Florence-Rome route. But, along the way, you will discover sight-seeing gems, gourmet hot spots and much more. Are you ready? Let's go. These are the best kept secrets of Italian fashionistas.

One hour by car from Milan and linked by the Milan-Venice train line, lies the little town of Desenzano del Garda in the province of Brescia. On Tuesday mornings, tourists and locals gather at the town's market. Feel free to wander about, but remember that you are on a mission: in this market, there is a stall that sells Tod's and Hogan shoes from past seasons, for both men and women, for around 100 euros. Quantities and sizes are limited and you will have to be a little pugnacious. The stand is in the main square alongside the lake and you'll find a newspaper agent is close by. The owners also participate in the markets of other towns, such as in nearby Salò on Saturdays. Don't worry, I am not sending you into the middle of nowhere. Desenzano is a gorgeous gem along the lakeside with plenty of opportunities for sightseeing and wandering, including around Garda Lake, the largest lake in Italy.

Shoes at Co.Ca.Ma.

In the small provincial town of Cerlongo di Goito in the district of Mantova city, you will find a fashion haven: the Co.Ca.Ma shop. Co.Ca.Ma is not a mirage. At Co.Ca.Ma, you can find this season's bags and shoes by Cesare Paciotti, John Richmond, Casadei, Bikkembergs, Moschino and Blugirl, among others, and the zealous sales staff might even give you a discount. At their discretion, of course. Co.Ca.Ma also sells accessories, mainly shoes, from past seasons by brands such as Prada, Miu Miu and Tod's at up to 50% off. Be aware that during weekends, the shop can get quite crowded. Mantova is famous for its local food and wine, palaces to visit such as Palazzo Te and Palazzo Ducale and its cultural events (do not miss Festivaletteratura). Yes, you may use all of these arguments to convince your friends and family to join you on a trip to Mantova. Just make sure you promise them a taste of "sbrisolona" cake (traditional crumbly cake).

Our last stop is Forte Dei Marmi's market on a Wednesday. Forte Dei Marmi is located in the province of Lucca in Northern Tuscany and is where Italian VIPs, politicians, ladies who lunch and aristocrats sharpen their flawlessly manicured nails, fighting a cold war (cat fights are so vulgar…) over the last cashmere piece. The market makes special appearances in other towns so keep an eye on its website (www.ilmercatodelforte.it) for the calendar that informs you of any special locations of the market.  

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Co.Ca.Ma: Strada Statale goitese n. 432, Cerlongo di Goito (Mantova), phone number: 0376/607048, internet: www.cocama.it

How to reach Co.Ca.Ma from Mantova (by car): Simply follow the directions to Brescia city, take Strada Marmirolo SS236, go past Marmirolo and Goito towns; after Goito you arrive in Cerlongo.

How to reach Mantova by car: Take highway A22 (Autostrada del Brennero) and exit off Mantova Nord (if you are traveling from Brennero-Verona) or Mantova Sud (if you are traveling from Modena-Bologna).

How to reach Mantova by plane: The nearest airports are Aeroporto di Verona "Valerio Catullo", Aeroporto di Parma "Giuseppe Verdi", Aeroporto di Bergamo-Orio al Serio and Aeroporto di Montichiari (Brescia) "Gabriele D'Annunzio".

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