Jul 18th, 2011 by Håkan
Q: What is it? A: The factory outlet in Tuscany where Prada sells the stuff that won’t make it to the high street. I’ve already written a post about it here, but this update may come in handy nevertheless.
* * * DRIVING DIRECTIONS AND MORE AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS POST! * * *
An mythical place. Apparently.
It used to be almost completely hidden and only whispered about. Today, it’s slightly less so, as they have erected large signs on Via Levanella (SR69). There are also chartered bus tours coming here from Florence. Plus, you may now get yourself a cup of coffee or even a glass of wine in the café on the corner instead of refueling at a vending machine. But it’s still a place that you may drive past if you don’t know what to look for. And there seems to be a massive need for information, as the previous post I wrote about this place is the most visited page on this website. By far.
Is it worth going there?
There are many reasons to go to Tuscany, (wine, food, scenic landscape and romance, among others), but prior to the Space Prada Outlet, there weren’t many reasons to make a stop in Montevarchi. The town is the equivalent of Slough, UK, or Scranton, PA, in an otherwise very picturesque region. As an outlet it surely stands out, with high quality merchandise on the shelves in many sizes. I am NOT an outlet guy and I’m no good at hunting for bargains, but I’ve happily walked out of this store with items that were sold at 30-70% lower prices compared to the high street.
Why Montevarchi of all places?
It’s a factory outlet located within the Prada manufacturing facility. Outlets mix badly with the Prada name, so they call the place Space. You will find that there are Space bags and Space pricetags. The only thing Prada is the actual merchandise.
I’m often asked things like Do they have a website where you can see what’s in stock? Do they ship? My response will be no and no. It’s an outlet. At Space they sell only stuff that is about to be phased out or irregular items that can’t be sold with a premium pricetag. Prada can not and will not tell what’s in store and they will never ship anything anywhere. If they did, they would soon kill their brand and upset retailers all over the world.
The not so normal procedure of shopping here.
Before entering through the glass doors, you’ll collect a ticket from the machine above. The number on the ticket is your customer-ID, and as soon as you’ve selected an item, a staff member will ask you for that number. Your items will then be brought to one of three counters, which in turn means that you won’t have to carry your stuff around. When you had enough, you approach the counter, check-out with your number and pay. The system works fine. The ticket also comes in handy when creating a queue, as no more than about 100 customers are allowed into the store at the same time. The staff in the store is helpful and reasonably multi-lingual. In fact, there’s not much that is outlet-y about this outlet. It’s like Neiman Marcus, but with numbered tickets.
So, Mr. Guidebook, you sound quite positive?
Yes, I am. Again, I’m not an outlet guy but thanks to the Space Prada Outlet I’ve been able to buy stuff in quantities that I wouldn’t even have dreamed of before going to Tuscany. But of course a visit doesn’t make this writer’s pulse race; not like those pretty young, mostly Japanese, fashionistas I watched go wild in the women’s shoe section.
I’m sure that there’s something with shoes, but my Y-chromosome will prevent me from ever understanding it.
Lo Spaccio – SPACE
Via Levanella Becorpi
S.S. 69 – 52025 Montevarchi (AR)
UPDATE: OPENING HOURS
- Monday through Friday: 10.30 AM – 8 PM (last entrance 7.30 PM)
- Saturday: 9.30 AM – 8 PM (last entrance 7.30 PM)
- Sunday: 10.30 AM – 8 PM (last entrance 7.30 PM)
- Closed on January 1st, Easter, August 15th and December 25th-26th.
- On December 24th and 31st there could be reduced opening hours.
These hours were e-mailed to me by the Prada Client Service
* * * THE HEAVY DRIVING DIRECTIONS SECTION STARTS HERE! * * *
Latitude: 43.512222 N
Longitude: 11.598794 E
DRIVING DIRECTIONS TO MONTEVARCHI:
First, let’s deal with getting to the area of Montevarchi, (scroll down for more detailed, local descripions). The secret is to drive on the A1, the Autostrada del Sole or ”Motorway of the Sun”, the spinal cord of Italy’s road network that runs from (Milan-Naples).
If you’re driving from…
• Florence (Firenze, Tuscany) – follow this link.
Distance: 57 km. Time: 52 min.
• Pisa (Tuscany) Aeroporto Pisa-Galileo Galilei – follow this link.
Distance 157 km. Time: 1 h 40 min.
• Lucca (Tuscany) – via A11 and the A1 passing Firenze – follow this link.
Distance: 128 km. Time: 1 h 24 min.
• Rome (Lazio) – Aeroporto Roma-Fiumicino Lionardo da Vinci (main airport) – follow this link.
Distance: 274 km. Time: 2 h 38 min.
• Rome (Lazio) – Aeroporto Roma-Ciampino, (used by most low cost airlines) – follow this link.
Distance 255 km. Time: 2 h 25 min.
• Milan (Lombardy) – Aeroporto di Milano-Malpensa (main airport) – follow this link.
Distance 409 km. Time: 4 h 00 min.
• Milan (Lombardy) – Aeroporto di Milano-Linate – follow this link.
Distance: 358 km. Time: 3 h 28 min.
No matter if you’re coming from the north or the south, on the A1 you must pinpoint the Valdarno exit. Don’t worry, those signs are hard to miss.
DRIVING FROM SOMEWHERE ELSE?
Start with the site Viamichelin.com. It is your best friend. Type in Levanella in the ”Town, City, Postcode…”-field. Levanella is the local industrial area where the Prada factory is located.
ALMOST IN MONTEVARCHI – LOCAL DRIVING DIRECTIONS:
As soon as you’ve left the A1 autostrada, there won’t be many signs until you’re really close to the outlet. In between the motorway and those signs, follow step A to F listed below:
You drive on the Autostrada del Sole (A1). Pinpoint the Valdarno exit and leave the A1 there. No matter which direction (north or south) you come from, just after exiting the autostrada you’ll get to a roundabout. Take the first exit in the roundabout. It’s the Via Poggilupi (SP11).
The Via Poggilupi will soon turn into the Strada Lungo l’Arno (but it is still the SP11). Turn right. For a brief moment the road will be named Strada della Penna (SP59). Then turn left on the Via dell’Olmo and then right again. You’re now back on the Strada Lungo l’Arno.
Continue on the Strada Lungo l’Arno (SP11) for quite a while, (it’s a matter of kilometers), driving parallel to the A1 autostrada. On your left side of the road you will pass an industrial area with some shops. Finally the Strada Lungo l’Arno will take you underneath the autostrada. Turn right. A sign should say Montevarchi. Pass the river Fiume Arno. The road name will now change to Via Arno. You are now entering the town of Montevarchi.
At the first major intersection (traffic light) you turn right. You’re now on Via Leona (SR69). In no time the Via Leona will change its name to Strada d’Arno (it’s still SR69 though); Via Levanella on many maps. Continue on this road and pass underneath the railroad track, (now check the aerial view below).
When you’ve passed the railroad track it’s time to slow down. Here’s the intersection on the right. There used to be trees here but they are now gone. If you come from the south, keep your eyes open for the little roadside shrine with the cross on top (image No. 6 below). See it? Turn right and leave the Strada d’Arno/Via Levanella. You’re almost there.
You are now entering an industrial area, driving on a street named Via Levanella Becorpi. Take the first left. On your left side you’ll now see the large factory building (No. 3 in this post), and the sign on the façade saying ‘Space Outlet’. Follow the road as far as you can go. There are a lot of spaces to park here, but there may be one closer to the entrance as they’ve enlarged the parking. Park. It should now be safe to follow the crowd, especially if the majority of the crowd is young Japanese women. Congratulations, it’s shopping time.
TWO OUTLETS IN ONE DAY?
For those of you wanting to visit the Space Prada Outlet and The Mall in the same day, it’s 35 km from the Space Prada Outlet to The Mall. It will take some 35 minutes to drive between these locations. To get an idea of the route follow this link!
GETTING TO THE SPACE PRADA OUTLET BY TRAIN:
If you don’t want to rent a car, you may board a train at the Santa Maria Novella Station in Florence. In the daytime there’s typically one train to Montevarchi every hour, (sometimes even three times/hour). Timetables and prices can be found at Trenitalia using this link. An English version of the site is available by clicking on the Union Jack displayed top middle.
The trip from Florence to Montevarchi takes either 36 or 59 minutes, depending on the number of stops and the fare is either 4,30 € or 6,50 € one way, (prices may change, so please check online before going).
In Montevarchi, you will have to take a taxi to the outlet. Be prepared that taxi services may be sporadic.
OTHER MEANS OF TRANSPORT (TAXI, CHARTERED COACHES)
I’ve been asked a few times what it will cost to take a cab to the outlet. I’m sorry but I will not even try to answer as I’ve been using a rental car myself, (hence my detailed driving directions). There are also a myriad of chartered shopping tours to the area, but that’s different field of science. The above link to the railway company, owned by the Italian state, is as far as I will go, as I’m never happy to post anything that I can’t verify myself.
WANT TO STAY IN THE AREA?
I’ve stayed at two hotels, one close and one reasonably close to the Space Prada Outlet. These are the alternatives if you want to stay in a better place, as Montevarchi itself will not offer you much:
Villa Sassolini – 9.5 km from the Levanella industrial area where the outlet is located.
Villa Fontelunga – 51 km from the same Levanella industrial area.