During my most recent trip to Italy I spent a day with two friends vintage clothing shopping in Ercolano. Many people are familiar with Pompeii, the Roman city destroyed by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 A.D. Not as many have heard of Ercolano, a town that was impacted by that same volcanic eruption. The archaeological ruins of Ercolano occupy a smaller area than Pompeii, are more well preserved and do not attract nearly as many visitors as Pompeii. Personally, I preferred the ruins in Ercolano for their detailed preservation, beautiful frescoes and tile work, and its walk ability, as compared to Pompeii. I could go on about the ruins of Ercolano, but the town is also home to a great vintage market, Resina, located along Via Pugliano. The market started after WWII as stolen items from the American military made their way into the area and since then it has grown into one of the largest markets for second hand clothing in Italy.
Via Pugliano is lined with shops that sell vintage clothing, shoes, handbags, jewelry, sunglasses, as well as vintage and new furs. There is also a smattering of vintage decor items, ceramics, lighting, art, and bric a brac. There is a large swing in quality, I will say that again, there is a large swing in quality among the shops and even within any one given shop, so please check items over very well before purchasing. There is also a huge variation in the organization and display of items from shop to shop.
Some shops have separated their truly vintage, good condition, designer items out so you can go through them methodically and in good light, literally out on the street. In fact, many shops put some racks or tables of items out on the sidewalk but also have more merchandise inside. Could there be a real Pucci hanging on that rack??
Some stores are well organized and carry vintage clothing in good condition and some designer labels. Some of my favorites were La Galleria Del Vintage. The owner is a friend of my friend who drove us to the market and he told her that he sometimes gets theater companies coming in to the shop looking for pieces to wear in productions. There were 1960s Audrey Hepburnesque gowns, my other friend got an off white raw silk gown for 15 euro! short metallic fabric dresses that would be fabulous with go go boots, beaded, sequined, faux fur, real fur, oh my! I think I even saw a pile of Mexican serapes. Pretty much any ethnicity of ethnic clothing was represented. Underneath many of the sections of hanging clothing there were plastic bags FULL of clothing, I started going through one that had wonderful Middle Eastern kaftans, the WHOLE trash bag was full of them.
Other well displayed shops with quality vintage items included Zeta Retro Vintage. This shop is owned by a young woman who has youthful labels and styles along with traditional labels, Diesel, Brics luggage/bags, and Burberry. Ro.Ca.Gi Vintage has items for the urban hipster and beautiful jewelry and accessories all well organized and easy to see. I bought several vintage cameos there.
The street has a close knit neighborhood feel, with dealers sitting outside their shops, watching, welcoming, visiting and posing for photos for a blog. Remember how I mentioned that the ruins of a Roman city were close by? Ercolano is an old city and evidence of that is obvious on this street of vintage clothing shops. You peer through alleys and look around corners and see the most amazing religious icons and shrines.
You do have to be prepared to really dig for vintage treasures in Ercolano. Not all shops are as well organized as others. In fact, sometimes clothing and accessories are just piled on the ground or laid out on the sidewalk in flea market fashion. Do beware of the quality as well. You do find pieces that are not vintage, are not a quality brand, are dirty, ripped and just should not be for sale.
The inside of some shops have floors clear of clutter, but some floors can barely be seen under all of the merchandise. You just have to dive in and keep telling yourself that there might be a real Prada bag under there! Happy hunting in Resina.