The Saldi Are Here. So’s Italy’s Biggest Zara Yet

New Zara flagship at Palazzo Bocconi, Rome It's that time of year again — saldi time. But for diehard shoppers, the winter also brought something else exciting: Italy's Zara flagship store.

Not just any Zara store, this Zara, the biggest in the world outside of those in Barcelona and Athens, commands five separate levels. It's in the Palazzo Bocconi, a gorgeous structure built smack on Via del Corso in the 1880s. And it's (relatively) eco-friendly, using 30 percent less energy and 70 percent less water than comparably-sized stores.  

All of that makes 189 Via del Corso a pretty sweet stop for any Zara lover. But, as much as my jaw dropped, just a little bit, to see a store this slick and this big in little old Rome, it also made me a little sad. Let's be honest: There had to be some transformation that went along with putting a multinational chain in a 120-year-old palazzo. Preservationists' tears might be mitigated by the fact that, before, the palazzo was home to La Rinascente — the department store — but still. Yet another chain isn't exactly helping Rome's struggling artisans.

Ah, well. If you're going to go — to Zara or any other Rome shop (including local artisans!) — go now. The saldi end on February 15.

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