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If you haven’t already, it’s time to start your holiday shopping. What’s that, you say? Not feeling it this year? We’ve got just the remedy for those who need to find wonderful holiday gifts but have no desire to hit the mall, the avenue or the Internet. Why not do your holiday shopping in Italy this year? In case you think starting your holiday shopping in October is a nutty idea, let’s look at some facts. According to the National Retail Federation, in 2016 U.S. consumers reported that they began shopping for the holiday season at the following times: 41.4% during the month of November; 12.2% before September, 6.5% in September and 21.9% in October. See? Some people may already be done!

In our Dandelion Chandelier multipart series on gifting we’ve been sharing ideas and inspiration across a number of core categories. But instead of focusing on what to give, in this post we think it’s time to address where to shop.

This all started because our exceptional travel agent Judi, whose agency is part of the Virtuoso network, shared a cool idea with us. The headline of her email was: Three days of Holiday Spirit in Rome and Umbria. Yes, we clicked on it rather quickly. Who wouldn’t want to partake of that?

Upon closer inspection, we learned that a company called DMC IC Bellagio and the Italian luxury trade association Fondazione Altagamma are teaming up this year for a special way to do some holiday shopping and also to experience first-hand the craftsmanship that goes into items made in Italy. The concept is to offer personalized tours of the headquarters and flagship locations of some of Italy’s iconic brands. It’s an insider’s view of luxury, with access to “off-limits” areas, meet-and-greets with the personalities behind the brand, and opportunities to sample luxury goods and services (like taking a spin in an Azimut yacht or sampling a rare vintage at Ornellaia).

The program is not limited to holiday shopping, but their suggestion for a Roman holiday is what caught our eye. The itinerary for their suggested three-day shopping adventure is as follows:

–Fly to Rome at a time when the city is alight with twinkling lights for the holiday season, and shops are well-stocked with unusual, artisanal gifts

–Stay at the 5-star hotel Corso 281, located in a historic house on the legendary shopping street Via del Corso

–Join an expert local guide for the Campo Marzio Walking Tour, including the Christmas market on Piazza Navona and the 100 Presepi exhibit on Piazza del Popolo, which showcases unique nativity scenes from all corners of the world

–Have dinner at Antica Trattoria Tritone, which is just steps from the Trevi Fountain

–Take a day-trip to the Umbrian estate headquarters of renowned cashmere label Brunello Cucinelli (the company’s Solomeo complex was built based on strong humanist ideals like the dignity of work and the pursuit of knowledge); experience full immersion in the Brunello Cucinelli world, both in the factory where master artisans create each piece by hand and in the halls of Dottore Cucinelli’s Forum for the Arts – you can even have lunch with managers in the company canteen

–End the day at La Terrazza dell’Eden atop the recently renovated Hotel Eden, experiencing Fabio Ciervo’s Michelin-starred cuisine and enjoying sweeping views of Rome

Seriously, who would not want to do this? We love Bruno Cucinelli – we always joke that their exquisite clothes are designed for living a life that we don’t have, and probably won’t, involving an Italian villa in the hills, long walks in the golden light, visits to town to buy fresh produce, and glorious candle-lit dinner parties with excellent wine. Maybe you can’t have that entire dream, but this would be a fine way to capture a little piece of it.

As we hear of other fantastical holiday shopping trips like this one, we’ll pass them along to you. In a prior post, we shared the Twelve Days of Rosewood luxury trip to the Aston Martin headquarters outside London, during which you can design your own car. If a Roman fashion holiday is more your style, book now. The holidays will be here before you know it. What a great story you’d be able to tell if you did this! And what a holiday hero you’d be if you scored some really cool Italian gifts. Are you getting all of this, Santa? We’ll take anything from Cucinelli, especially if its heather grey. You know our size, right? Happy hunting.


Pamela Thomas-Graham

Pamela Thomas-Graham is the Founder & CEO of Dandelion Chandelier. She serves on the boards of several tech companies, and was previously a senior executive in finance, media and fashion, and a partner at McKinsey & Co.