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Serravalle Outlet near Milan: Don’t Just Come for Shopping!
Think Serravalle invites visitors to “think (different)” about a small Italian community with big attractions and even bigger ambitions. The Serravalle Outlet is well-known (Europe’s largest) and so is Cortese di Gavi, a world-class wine. Yet it has more to offer its visitors, as long as they are open to exploration and discovery. This is the first of two stories about Serravalle to help guide your thinking.
Welcome to Piedmont
When you think of Italy’s Piedmont region, the first words that come to mind may be connected with gastronomy – wine, cheese, chocolate, or specialties like plin (a kind of pasta) and grissini (hand-pulled breadsticks).
Those are Piemontesi attractions drawing foodies from all over the world, and rightly so. The Slow Food movement was born in Piedmont, after all.
Serravalle Outlet McArthur Glen
But consumerism of another sort is more alluring in one small corner of southeastern Piedmont. The Serravalle Outlet McArthur Glen is known mainly to shoppers, equally drawn from around the globe, but attracted to one thing only – high-end lifestyle brands at low prices. McArthur Glen is Italy’s first and Europe’s largest shopping outlet, a sprawling complex of more than 300 stores with Italian brand names like Cavalli, Gucci, Versace, Prada, Bulgari, Frette, Bialetti, and non-Italians like Lindt, Villeroy & Boch, Samsonite, and Swarovski. It is located in Serravalle Scriva, a municipality of about 6,500 about 16 miles southeast of Alessandria, right off the A7 autostrada that runs from Milan to Genoa.
Great Deals on Italian Designer Clothing
Shopping at Serravalle Outlet means prices well below retail for same-season merchandise – 35 % less for starters, though you can find markdowns at up to 70% off retail. For items from the previous season or collection, discounts can be irresistible. On a recent visit, I found a Stefanel jacket reduced from € 150 to € 30, a pair of Fratelli Rossetti shoes marked down from € 330 to € 149, and a Versace blazer reduced from € 890 to € 190.
Serravalle Outlet – Like a Small, Italian Town
The shopping mecca opened in 2000 and draws five million visitors annually. Not too many Americans, but large numbers of Russians, Chinese, and Japanese among the largely-European bargain hunters. Except for some weekends and special promotion days, you won’t feel crowded in the 51,500 square meter (55,500 square feet) complex.
It looks like a small town, with a fountain in the main plaza, and “streets” running off to the sides. In fact, it IS practically a self-contained little town, with tons of free parking, car valets, cafes, restaurants, private lounges, free WiFi, a tourism office, a playground for children, and more than 5,000 employees. Shuttle buses run almost hourly to the outlet from Milan, Turin, and Genoa for the convenience of day shoppers. So you wouldn’t have to leave the outlet to explore the surrounding area . . . but you would be missing something by staying put.
Other Things to Do near Serravalle: Wine Tasting
For starters, the area around Serravalle is as famous for its sipping as well as its shopping: Cortese di Gavi, Italy’s famed DOCG dry white wine, is produced here. Gavi is made exclusively from Cortese grapes, an autochthonous variety found in Piedmont. It is sometimes known as the “white Barolo”, a nod to the region’s best-known red. Although Gavi’s history extends more than a thousand years, its fame among wine connoisseurs has accelerated notably in the last decade, as exports have increased 85 %. Gavi is increasingly appreciated for its taste, adaptability to modern trends in food, and its “biological” credentials: it is the world’s first wine produced free of GMOs (genetically modified organisms).
Tourism officials in Serravalle have not yet created a Gavi wine road, but visitors can arrange for tastings from 75 local wineries, most of which have English speakers (given the growing importance of the export market). You can organize tastings with or without local snacks, a full meal, a quick or detailed tour of the winery itself. One vineyard, Castello di Tassarolo, also offers individual or group classes in draft horse training, since they use these animals for the delicate work of navigating the vineyards.
Prices for tastings will vary depending on how many people, the language requirements, the services requested, and the time of year. Naturally, you can buy wine on the spot, with prices that are competitive compared to city wine shops. Plus you can discover many labels unknown outside Piedmont.
Serravalle Outlet – Shopping and Sipping was written and photographed by Claudia Flisi. Think Serravalle hosted and arranged her trip.