Thrift shopping in Italy rocks!

Not one Italian person I have met would ever admit to going into a thrift/second-hand shop to purchase anything. I’m not being rude, it is just a fact and one I am more than happy with because it means more for me to pick through!

I’m not the best at spotting the designer labels (I couldn’t even tell you what the latest is at the moment…unless it is a cooking product!) I just wonder through and see if there is anything I like and even then I don’t really look properly. I am a pathetic shopper and Nic will back me up on this. I wait until the item bites me on the nose before I take a look- pathetic!

My lovely friend Sue is the total opposite and knows a great deal when she sees one. I went to a church thrift sale with her a few weeks ago where I came away with nothing and she had 3-4 items that looked fab. I was going to Sue’s for our monthly book club meeting last weekend and she advised me to come early and so she could take me to a cool thrift store out her way. I’m always keen to go because I live in hope that I’ll get better at shopping one day. So to tell you I ACTUALLY purchased goods is quite amazing and what is even more amazing it that we had a blast doing it, this shop/warehouse was fabulous!

The shop is in Quarrata, over by Pistoia and is called Emmaus and is part of the International Emmaus community which makes me even happier to spend money there, helping others less fortunate in Italy and around the world, translate the page and check it out: it is an inspiring story.


We entered the shop and I was instantly blown away by it’s size and lack of mothball smells. The second shocker were the sheets, they were all laundered and pressed!!? Not only could you pick up a great set of sheets but they were clean, ironed and ready for sale. It is a small but very important component, especially if you are skint and really in need. This impressed me immensley.

Ok so my first purchase was spotted within 20 seconds of entering…


Stainless steal gelato bowls!!!! They are beautiful, stylish and only 2.50 euro. The weight in them alone got me excited which put me in a fab mood to wander the aisles with Sue. There were row upon row of dinner plates for 0,50 & 2 euro each, plates that I went looking for in second-hand shops back in Sydney (for work) where they were asking $5+ a plate.


I had to pause a minute with my mate Cosimo just to make sure I wasn’t getting too excited…….He was the one looking excited so I moved on.


After the kitchen aisles we popped down the furniture ones just for a look, lets face it Nic would have killed me if I brought back the larder box I had my eye on, instead Sue and I had a bit of a giggle at the fat wobbling machine no one should ever get on!


Jeans were tried on, dresses and skirts also but in the end it was a really tough decision between two winter coats we spotted. Sure one of them looked like it had never been worn and was 80% lambswool and for the extremely low price of TEN EURO!!!


However, the other one was ready for the Christmas season, cable knitted front panels and forever its own style. After counting at least 5 types of fabric used to create this beauty I decided to stick with the Benetton coat….there is a special kind of person just waiting to find this master piece on the rack.



We had a great afternoon going through the copious amounts of cool stuff and I recommend anyone to see if they have a Emmaus store in their area, donate your unwanted goods because they can make a difference to a lot of families in need, you may even surprise yourself and pick up something you never thought you needed to own!


38 thoughts on “Thrift shopping in Italy rocks!

  1. What fun!!!! The stainless steel gelato bowls are gorgeous, as is that white coat! That is my kind of thrift store…I am saddened you didn’t buy Cosimo…I could see his excitement in that first photo!!!

  2. Sounds like a good one! I’m a bit like you, always admiring all the great goods others found on fleemarkets. The exception is children’s clothes, there I’ve made some great purchases (eg winter boots). You may want to reconsider the coat though, looks like your whole family would fit in the 2nd one.

  3. That place looks huge & with good stuff too for a good cause. It’s a win-win!
    I used to hate markets b/c there seemed to be so much crap on sale but here in Brisbane the Southbank markets have fab clothes from local designers, which is great b/c I’m so bored with the clothes in shops these days. Eumundi markets, 90mins north of here is also brilliant – beautiful tablecloths from Provence for about $80-100 instead of the $250+ you’d pay in a shop.
    Anyway, being in Italy I think you should do more browsing at least and report back in your blog so we can all see what we are missing! And yes, that includes food markets!

    • There is a new olive oil market this weekend I’ll be checking out for us all! I love the town mkts also, there are some great young designers out there….it’s nice to look a little different

  4. I love thrift shopping! I actually managed to find a good pair of pants last time I went – sadly not my size but my smaller friend benefitted and told me the other day that they really are great!’

    I’m slightly jealous of your coat. I love coats like that but don’t get the chance to wear one often, as you can imagine.

    The photo with Cosimo made me laugh. He does look excited!

  5. Pingback: Thrift shopping in Italy rocks! | Junefinnigan's Weblog

  6. Oh my! I’m sure I could have spent most of the day there! I would definitely have seized the opportunity for those gelato bowls also…and probably several plates. Great coat choice too! I definitely NEED to check out the thrift stores when I get to Italy! It is so trendy to thrift shop here that it’s tough to find a real treasure. Oh well, more for me to do after the move to Italy I suppose! Thanks for the post, it has me all excited to go thrifting soon!
    P.S.If you find the nuns that sell Prada, can you give me the details? That sounds like a splendid shopping experience that will definitely come with a fun story.

  7. Pingback: A Cook’s Things | Transplanted Cook

  8. This is a long shot but I’m wondering if you remember the address of the shop. I’m on vacation for 10 days with my family and I’d like to drag them there. You know – share my love of charity shops! After reading your blog I looked online and I think I’ve narrowed it down to two possibilities. Do any of these addresses ring a bell? Any info is much appreciated 🙂
    1. Campriana 87, 51039 Quarrata
    2. di Buriano, 62, Pistoia

    • Hi Zoe, the store I went to is in Quarrata. It is in the back streets so a taxi from the area maybe the way to go? It is an awesome shop, my kids loved it when I went. Good luck, I hope you find it!

  9. Hi Zoe,
    My 17 year old son leaves for a year as an exchange student in Bergamo Wednesday. We heard clothes were expensive in Italy, we don’t know exactly what the high school boys are wearing there, and we don’t want to pack too much. He is happy to thrift shop. Will he be able to find appropriate clothes at American “Goodwill” prices? Thanks for sharing your experience. Nancy

    • Hi Nancy,

      Not all clothes are expensive in Italy. There are some shops like Upim that have ‘trendy’ clothes for regular prices. H&M are also there and I noticed a lot of teens buy clothes there, however, if he is only going for a year then I’d set him up at home for the year. There is a big market in designer thrift stores (esp. in Florence) so you will not get any bargins there! Good luck and I am sure he will have a great time.

    • Hello Nancy! How exiting for your son. As you’ve already been told I was going to suggest H & M which is reasonably priced and very trendy. I would also suggest Zara if you son is slim built. It’s also on trend but the sizes run small. Slightly more expensive then H & M. I found Italians to be quite trendy as you expect in Europe. For me a good quality pair of jeans is a must and a good pair of trainers. NOT sneakers. Have a look online for “tiger trainers” to get an idea of what I mean by trainers. If he wants to blend in – he will want to ditch the normal nike style running shoes that you are use to seeing. That’s a sure give away that you are not from Europe. I only mention this because it seemed you were concerned about him wearing the same thing as high school kids. All of this you could sort out before you leave – good pair of trainers, good quality jeans and some trendy T-Shirts. You can probably find an H & M close to you. The stock changes a bit from country to country but the basics will be the same. Hope this help! And wish you son a nice trip. Zoe

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s