Whether visiting Milan, famous for its fashion houses and stilisti (designers) or a Neapolitan high-street, here are a few words and phrases that will be helpful in your search for bargains.
Most major cities in Italy have centri commerciali, large mall type shopping centres, but most still have the smaller department stores, grandi magazzini. Once inside, you’ll see many signs that are designed to help you navigate your way around the store; an important one to note is uscita di sicurezza, emergency exit - once acquainted with this, you can relax and shop at your leisure.
For the women’s wear section, follow signs for abbigliamento da donna: some signs omit the ‘da’, but the meaning is still the same. For men’s wear, look for the abbigliamento uomo signs. Upon arrival at the department of your choice, you may see signs including the word intimo: these will direct you to underwear and intimate apparel sales area.
Two further important signs when shopping are camerini, changing/fitting rooms, and of course, cassa, cash register.
Most stores allow the shopper to browse at their own pace, however smaller departments may require you to ask la commessa or il commesso, female or male sales clerk, for help; mi può aiutare per favore, can you help me please, or ho bisogno di, I need, will come in handy here.
Then it’s just a case of knowing what the translations of the vestiti, clothes, are. For women, a blouse is una camicetta, skirt is gonna and to say this dress, you say questo vestito. For men, it’s handy to know that shirt, trousers and jacket translate as camicia, pantaloni and giacca.
A pair is paio; for example, a pair of jeans is un paio di jeans and a pair of shoes becomes un paio di scarpe.
Once you’ve made your choice, you might want to accessorise and so keep an eye out for the accessori sign. Here’s a list you might like to copy out in advance of your shopping trip to keep with you for reference:
Berretto – Cap
Cintura – Belt
Cravatta – Tie
Calzini – Socks
Calze – Stockings
Collant - Tights
Borsa – Bag
Guanti – Gloves
Sciarpa - Scarf
Have an enjoyable shopping trip!