Shopping at Amarena Chic

19 Jun


As you may know I’m not big on shopping, which is why there aren’t many posts in my “Shop til you drop” category. But this little place merits a mention.

Tucked away on Campo Marzio 9 (near the middle of Via del Corso), this tiny shop with one window has always caught my eye, kind of like Joseph Debach. There are always people looking at the shoes in this window.

I, on the other hand, big foot (size 10 US, size 41 Italian) that I am, have long since given up hope of ever being able to buy shoes in Italy. Yes, size 41 does exist, but after years of getting my hopes up to buy a particular shoe only to find that it wasn’t in stock in my size, or after having to endure the strange looks that said without words: “OH! So there actually ARE people who take size 41!” — I’ve given up.

However, the other day while walking by this shop, I spotted a denim hat in the window with a ribbon band and a huge button. It was an impulse, but I went in the shop for the first time ever and asked to try on the hat. I liked it, the price was €35 (which was OK with me because it was a fun, nonsense purchase, something I very rarely do), and that was that. Friendly salesgirls, quick service, and the next thing I knew, I was walking out of the shop with their trademark pink and red bag covered in cherries. Oh man, I was now officially CHIC!

I had to go meet a friend at Galleria Colonna on Via del Corso, and I was sporting my new hat. What do you think?

Me with my hat

Hey, check this out! Typical Italian style, you’ll see these signs on shop windows all over the place.

Ragazza Simpatica

They’re looking for help. They want a guy or gal who is “nice.” Well, simpatico/a I suppose means more than just nice, as the Italians can convey worlds of meaning with just one word. Such as “bella figura” or “bella presenza,” which is also often requested of job applicants (nice appearance?). Lots of times you’ll also see “max età 23” or thereabouts (no one over 23 should apply). We could get off on a tangent here about Italian hiring practices, but we won’t, not today. We’re having too much fun enjoying my new hat!

People, summer has arrived in Rome. That means, IT BE HOT. Very, very hot. If you are sun-sensitive like I am… you will probably need a hat in Rome from mid-June to early September, anytime you plan to set foot outside the house. That sun will beat down on you, hard.

So, here’s the famous Amarena Chic window. You can see my hat’s cousin in the lower right corner:

Shoes in Window

They have what could be described as “whimsical” shoes… little girl shoes for grown-ups. I would buy many pairs. That is, if I wasn’t 5 ft. 11 barefoot (180 cm) with my size 41 feet! Managgia!

Amarena Chic Window
Amarena Chic

Campo Marzio 9


31 Responses to “Shopping at Amarena Chic”

  1. Michelle June 19, 2007 at 10:10 am #

    I am also not a big shopper (if I need black pants, I go out looking for black pants, punto e basta), which gets me strange looks from those shopping lovers back home who marvel jealously that I’m in such a “shopping capital.” All of my extra money goes to books and travel not to Prada bags. If the Zara-type stores had not arrived here a few years ago, I probably would never shop in Milan. I fortunately do have an “approved” shoe size but as I don’t typically wear high heels (I like them but they are so impractical when running for the tram on cobblestone streets), I also tend to not buy shoes here. I like the hat. It suits you.

  2. Autumn June 19, 2007 at 10:15 am #

    Strange about the shoe size. I am nearly 6’1″ and I wear size 10 shoes in the states and size 40 shoes here fine. Plus I was always told 10 is 40 here. This is the first I heard 10 being 41.

  3. Sara, Ms. Adventures in Italy June 19, 2007 at 11:53 am #

    Where is the purse!!?!?!

    I think you should try 40s as well, I am a 10, too 🙂 I have heard between 40-41 because I think they don’t deal well with our sizing and maybe if you are a large 10 u might have trouble with a 40.

    I think shoe shopping in Florence is in order….

  4. jessica in rome June 19, 2007 at 12:37 pm #

    I wear a ten in the US too but here the 41’s Rarely fit 😦 It sucks because I am a shoe-aholic. I feel like I can’t express my personality with clothes here like I could in the states, I was also a big Value Villager at home. I guess the solution is to take only empty luggage on visits home and fill them up there 😦 or go to Germany, I hear people are taller there.

  5. Michelle June 19, 2007 at 1:31 pm #

    Have you tried the Lily of Florence shoe shop off the Via Veneto at Via Lombardia 38A, tel. 4740262? They have American sizes and I used to buy a lot of my shoes there when I worked at the Embassy in Rome as I have small (5.5-6 American) very wide feet and was able to find shoes there to fit me. In fact, I bought so many shoes there, I was on a first-name basis with Lily and all the employees and sent a lot of my friends and visitors there who wore larger sizes who couldn’t find their size anywhere else. Lily’s original shop is in Florence. I’m still wearing some of them nine years later! Good luck.

  6. Isabelle June 19, 2007 at 1:39 pm #

    As a shoe-addict, I’m REALLY looking forward to discovering this place in September ;-)))
    Love your hat, by the way !

  7. Shelley, At Home in Rome June 19, 2007 at 1:46 pm #

    Interesting that some of you size-10ers are able to get into a size 40. I’ve noticed that sizing tends to vary here. I have been able to find shoes at Bata (but that was at the shop in Bologna).

    Lily of Florence… thanks Michelle, that’s a good tip, I’ll have to check them out. Sounds like they are really good shoes… my Payless shoes are hardly around after one year, let alone NINE!

    Sara, yes, we can definitely do some shoe shopping in Florence… just don’t want to get my hopes up too much!

    Also, I definitely still do nearly all my clothes and shoe shopping in the States, ie, online, and my mom sends me the stuff. I just bought my entire summer wardrobe from Old Navy. But I am very, very basic when it comes to clothes, I have a summer “uniform” of solid colored button-down tank tops and patterned skirts, and that’s about it!

  8. erin June 19, 2007 at 2:49 pm #

    LOVE THE HAT! so cute….great impulse buy

  9. J.Doe June 19, 2007 at 2:51 pm #

    I wear size 10 in the US and heard that size 41 is the European equivalent but I don’t fit into size 41 I fit into size 42.
    Lucky you to fit into 41. They are not easy to find, but at least they exist. For 42 I had to go to the few specialty tall shops and pay top dollar for ugly shoes.

  10. nyc/caribbean ragazza June 19, 2007 at 3:29 pm #

    Mi piace la tua cappello! Very nice purchase.

    Most of my friends here seem to go shopping every weekend. I know this will change once I move but I like to shop in spurts. Nothing for weeks than boom an entire morning (within budget). I have a hard shape to find clothes for, curvy but short, like Selma Hayek/J. lo but you know a couple sizes bigger. I went to look for a dress this weekend and all the cute dresses were too small on top. ugh. Everything seems to be for size 0 women out here.

    So I wait until the places I like have sales. I do love shoes and bags. Last year my hotel in Florence was above the Gucci flagship store. The store whispered “Come inside” well actually it might have been “entri” but I was distracted by the bags and not paying attention.

  11. Amey June 19, 2007 at 4:26 pm #

    ha ha!
    Last time we were in Italy (last fall), my boyfriend’s shoes started giving him some aches and pains. We wanted to find something comfortable for him to wear – but he is a size 13 US. In the end he had to try on a bunch of size 12s, but nothing worked out. Ha! so, he just limped along!
    Love the hat!

  12. Rose in Cali June 19, 2007 at 4:38 pm #

    The hat is very cute! I don’t have the shoe size problem, but the clothing size one is another issue. Where do the not-so-slim women find clothes in Italy? They must sell them somewhere–or are they all custom-made? Managgia, indeed!

  13. FinnyKnits June 19, 2007 at 5:46 pm #

    Oh mama – that hat is adorable! How funny – the only hats I own (and like) are ones I either bought with you or you made for me. Random.

    And good on you for wearing a hat in the sun – I should remember to do that more often – it makes such a difference.

    Meanwhile, that shoe store looks like so much fun. I literally do not see a single shoe in that window that I don’t love. Maybe next time I’m in town we can try un poco shopping.

  14. Sierra June 19, 2007 at 8:13 pm #

    The hat is fabulous! I’m not a big shopper but really love shoes. I found some sandals up in a small village in Northern Italy. They have ended up being my favourite shoes. I’m a size nine with a wide foot so I’m happy to have found something nice looking that fits!

  15. Avery June 19, 2007 at 8:21 pm #

    You are too cute in that hat! and stylin’ in those glasses too. man oh man is it hot here in Rome. I hear it’s only the beginning of the heat wave.

  16. cupcake June 19, 2007 at 9:17 pm #

    Long time reader, first time commenter.

    I wear a 10 (really a 10½, but those are impossible to find), and it isn’t all that easy finding cute size 10s here in the US that don’t break the bank. By the time you get to double digits, cuteness wanes and practicality takes over. No shortage of loafers, sneakers or sandals. But really cute shoes? The kind the size 6-ers wear? Slim pickings.

    At least you found a hat. My head is too long from crown to forehead to wear hats. I don’t feel a lot of love from the scarpi or the cappelli.

  17. Jenn DZ - Leftover Queen June 19, 2007 at 9:19 pm #

    Your blog is so much fun to read, Shelley! I am amused, very amused! I am so sorry you have such troubles finding shoes. I would be sad. But then again, you have that cool hat, coffee slushies, oh and wait! You live in ROME! So I guess you’ll somehow manage! 🙂

  18. Michelle June 19, 2007 at 9:42 pm #

    Lily’s has a website which shows some of the shoes they have: and they do have size 10 and larger!! They are pricey but at the store check out the sale shoes as they are cheaper and were usually affordable. For those of you more “substantial” women living in Rome (I was one of them when I lived there), there are shops for larger women but they are hard to find. I lived near Piazza della Balduina and there was a shop (name unrecalled) somewhere around that area where I bought clothes in larger sizes. Also, there used to be a shop called L’Incontro which carried sizes up to 54 or 56. Unfortunately it’s been eight years and I don’t remember the streets for either of these.

  19. Rachael June 19, 2007 at 10:45 pm #

    I too like nearly every pair of shoes in the window. The at looks great on you. I wish more people would wear hats (and sunscreen). I also wish I could find the cousin or sister hat here. I need a new hat!

  20. jessica in rome June 19, 2007 at 11:35 pm #

    hey shelley I forgot to ask you somthing. you said your mom sends you stuff from the us, has she ever sent you shoes? I am dying! I had my sister buy me some and then heard somewhere that you can’t ship shoes into italy. if so, is this limited to just shoes from the us, or world wide? I feel like all of italy is plotting to make me barefoot :(..

  21. rf June 20, 2007 at 1:21 am #

    i’m wearing my boots today from the amarena chic outlet near campo dei fiori!

  22. liuia June 20, 2007 at 12:57 pm #

    You look great with your new hat!
    By the way, I wear a size 37 ^^U.

  23. jessica June 21, 2007 at 7:55 am #

    the hat looks great on you.

  24. Sarah O June 21, 2007 at 7:23 pm #

    I generally read this blog for the Rome talk and your personal observations, of course. Never thought I would find so many fellow shoe-challenged women! One thing I’ve noticed about North American sizes as a 10 1/2, is that while I can sometimes get my feet into size 10 dress shoes, size 10 sneakers might as well be My Little Pony velcro shoes (eg, kid-sized tiny). My best shoe shopping experience was actually in Scotland last year – who would’ve thought the Brits pandered to big feet in nice styles? I was most impressed and spent a good portion of my travel budget on shoes.

  25. cheeky June 25, 2007 at 2:13 am #

    The new hat is great. I love it. Fun and provides good coverage, most importantly. Wouldn’t want you to sunburn that fantastic skin you have.
    Shoes, shoes, shoes. I wear a size 40 and I’m 5’9 barefoot. If anyone ever tells you your feet are big tell them if they were any smaller you’d fall over!
    I’m glad I’m not buying shoes in Italy, although it seems I have many that are made there? Hhmmm?? I suppose they export all the “BIG” sizes for us Americanas?
    I feel special now. Those fancy sneakers in the shop window, Rocket Dogs, I own a pair. Different from those. I didn’t buy them knowing they were anything special, I simply thought they were fun. I paid $7 at TJ Maxx. Now I see them in your photo and I’m thinking, yeah I’m hip . . HA HA. LOL
    I need to take a photo for you.

  26. Iaacov July 20, 2007 at 4:07 pm #

    thanks a lot!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    amarenachic staff

  27. amiel gibbles November 25, 2007 at 6:50 pm #

    i was really excited by amarena chic shoes too. they have a kinda circus punk feel to them. they stock brands such as rocket dog and gazith. just watch out on the quailty. last winter i bought a pair of gazith boots there that were not that cheap and i won’t say i wore them to death (maybe once a week) and they fell apart by spring and as they fell apart i realised that my 120 euro boots had internal toes supports made of cardboard which i’m suspecting gave way from the few times i wore them in the rain. so my advice for those who buy is buy during the sales or when you buy ask if they come with a warranty.

  28. Celina February 24, 2008 at 2:14 am #

    I’m heading over to rome next week and since it’s my first time, i’d like to ask for some advice on shops that sell Hats. I’ve been requested to bring back one for my mother…one of those more old fashioned hats =)

    Thanks a ton!

  29. Katherine C June 25, 2008 at 4:37 am #

    I am so in love with Amarena Chic shoes too… like you I spotted the shoes in the window and spent a long time inside trying to choose not one pair, but two! (Thank you David!). Whenever I wear those super cute shoes back home here in Australia I always get a comment…amazing colors, funky designs and so comfy! I cant wait to go back….

  30. lisa November 1, 2009 at 11:07 pm #

    i love amarena’s shoes and i still walk past the shop dreaming of buying their entire season of shoes.
    I have bought a lot of shoes from them and have to say that the quality does vary considerably. Gazeth is nearly always completely synthetic and a couple of boots i bought which i loved fell apart pretty quickly from normal wear and tear after a season. I woudn’t have minded so much if they were shoes priced in the low range. my advice to you is smell the shoe before you invest over the 100 euro mark. if they smell like rubber you know you are buying a pretty below average shoe which looks great but wont last.
    they have recently added london fly shoe range which looks like a better quailty shoe. i might have to buy a pair to make sure :))

  31. Allice April 14, 2010 at 7:05 pm #

    I LOVED this store. I happened upon your blog in hopes to find some shoes available for online purchase in US. Do you happen to know of any sites carrying these brands?

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