Thrift Stores in Italy

racks of vintage clothes

When I first arrived in Italy, I was confused by the lack of thrift stores. There are not many charity shops in Italy and I was not sure where to buy used goods to furnish a house in a new country in an affordable and sustainable way. I ended up with a lot of Rome Ikea stuff and made many trips to the casalinghi shop.

Thrift stores are uncommon in Italy, but there are actually plenty of opportunities to find vintage or second hand clothes and homegoods if you know where to look. Typically, you can find these types of items at local markets that pop up in various neighborhoods or have permanent storefronts.

In Rome, Porta Portese is the best known weekly market. It takes place every Sunday and offers a mix of cheap new things alongside antiques and secondhand clothes. The market is extremely popular but I find it pretty hit or miss depending on what you are looking for. Be prepared to walk away empty-handed.

However, secondhand clothes sellers are present in almost all areas of Rome on certain days of the week. They set up collapsible tables (“bancarelle”) with umbrellas covering their wares and large yellow signs advertising the prices. There are some serious bargains to be had because these clothes (which tend to be divided between men, women, and children piles) are usually priced as low as 50 cents a piece. The downside? You need to be willing to dig. These are literal piles. And there is very little quality control. Sometimes you will find the perfect piece, but other times you will dig and find only extremely well-loved pieces from high street brands. More specialized sellers, like those with used cashmere or wool sweaters- as well as those who stock particular vintage brands- naturally have higher prices per piece.

Rome also has several vintage stores if you want a more curated shopping experience. The closest to thrift store prices is Humana Vintage, which sells everything for €5 or less. (Their website store prices vary more). There is a lot less frantic shifting through unorganized piles here, as well as the opportunity to try things on before you buy them (which is always more complicated at temporary outdoor markets).

vintage denim display

If you are looking for used furniture and homegoods like dishes and glassware, I highly recommend the mercato dell’usato. These are present across Italy and function like consignment stores with competitive prices. This is the best place to find a dining tables and chairs for €100 or some cool retro light fixtures. The prices depend on the condition of the piece and the brand, but you can find something to fit any budget or space. This is a permanent used market so you don’t negotiate here. However, if something has been in stock for a long time, there is sometimes a small discount available. These types of stores usually can also organize delivery for a small fee because they have their own trucks.

In Rome, you can also go to the Ponte Milvio market on Sundays for antique furniture. This is the spot for true collectors items (as well as art), so don’t expect any steals. The sellers know what their unique items are worth!

If you want more information about furnishing a new home (I hope you got a good rental contract!), here is an article about where to buy home goods in Rome. Or here is a guide on where to shop in Rome in general!

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