Today, we decided to rent a car and head down to Siena. We never made it there, but we had a one of our best days yet. Things started out rocky. The plan was to pick up the rental car early in the morning so we could get out of town with plenty of time for our full day. Little things quickly gummed up the works however.
It’s easy to tell time in the morning in Florence since the church bells go off every hour. I just count them and know when it’s time to get out of bed. This morning, I miscounted. So like someone who forgets to reset their watch when the time changes, I was an hour off. Or I should say, an hour late. Instead of being at the car rental office when I should of, I was back at the apartment thinking I had all the time in the world.
Which wouldn’t have been so bad but for the fact that I managed to lose our train tickets to Venice just after we bought them yesterday. Which meant so heading back to the station to stand in line, spend another 100 Euro all over again and kick myself for being such an idoit. By the time we finished standing in line, dealt with the tedious and unfriendly rental car clerk then finally drove off with our rental, we were a couple of hours behind schedule.
The good news was that we were upgraded to a Mini Cooper which made all the driving I did a lot more fun. My plan was to stop by the Prada outlet which is about an hour south of Florence on the way to Siena. It’s on the way, I’ve got the map, how hard can it be? Well, as to be expected when driving anywhere in Italy, we got lost, sidetracked and misdirected several times en route.
The Google Maps on Jen’s iPhone told us that we were standing in front of the building when, according to a couple local women walking by, it was actually ten kilometers down the road. When it comes to getting to a discount clothing store, I’ll trust a woman over the most advanced mapping technology any day.
Here’s a robot lawn mower that was doing it’s thing as we walked by during our search. The Italian villagers are surprisingly techie!
And an Italian window. Not all of them are old and pretty. Many are as dull as back home. Who knew?
The more lost we became, the more my little side journey became my quest! Jen wasn’t too interested in my program, but I was determined. When else in my life might have a such an opportunity again? Back on the road, we overshot our mark, but thanks to a gas station attendant, we turned around with clear directions in hand.
Here’s a snap from behind the gas station:
When we got to where it was supposed to be, there was nothing but a big sign and industrial building that read “Space.” I’d seen it on the way down, but drove right past it. Frustrated but determined, I drove slowly around until I saw some obvious shoppers who confirmed that I’d made it to the parking lot. Hurrah!
My heart was beating a little faster. Jen dug up a web page that said they only allowed so many shoppers in per day. “Did we make it soon enough?” I wondered. As we walked in the gate, this was the entrance that met us:
The Prada name is nowhere to be found on the outside. If you go looking for it, look for “Space” in the little town where it’s located and you won’t miss it. Before you walk in, each person is given a number by tall, dark haired and dark skinned Fabio gentleman. Just like what you’d expect in a move! I don’t know if they use the numbers to limit people or not. Here’s the little machine outside.
When I walked in, I experienced something truly fantastic, wonderful and new. I walked into a Prada store where I could actually afford the clothes inside! Wow! Never have I come close to experiencing such a thing. At the regular Prada store in Florence, I picked up a moderately cool hat. The $450 price tag had me drop it faster than a hot rock.
Not at the outlet. Oh no. There was nothing I couldn’t afford. Sure, the ostrich skin loafers were $450, but I could live without them. And a great selection of the best clothing on Earth. And great staff. I may have been at the discount outlet, but the store was still 100% Prada experience.
Granted, the prices weren’t exactly Walmart. We ended up spending as much as I spent to purchase my first four cars - combined. (So what if my second car cost 100 bucks? It ran!) But we walked out of there with bags of stuff for less than the regular price of the purse Jen bought. Plus, I now have the most kick-ass sport coat you will ever see anyone wear ever. Eat your heart out Joe Photo!
I couldn’t shoot photos inside the store. Normally, this does not deter this intrepid photographer. Just yesterday, I made it my goal to shoot photos inside the gallery where Michelangelo’s David is exhibited. The security is very tight there and the guards are constantly admonishing visitors with a harsh “No Photo!” Here’s one of my sneaky snaps:
All that said, the thought that I might get kicked out or black-balled from the Prada outlet was just too much for me to even consider pulling my camera out of my pocket. Miss out on the greatest sculpture of all time? No problem. Miss out on cheap Prada? Not on your life!
Finally, here’s a shot I took in the hip little restaurant they have next door.
Kristi Brooks, wardrobe stylist extraordinaire, this post is dedicated to you!