High quality kitchen utensils and cookware are the specialties of Omegna, a town on tiny Lake Orta, a few miles west of Lake Maggiore. But the entire region between these two lakes north of Milan is peppered with factory outlets selling everything from smart skiwear to high-tech lemon squeezers.
The unquestioned star of the show is Alessi, whose clever, impudent and cutting-edge designs by top name artists and architects have earned them a worldwide following. Who can resist the bright colors and sleek, smart designs, or the funny little characters that hold up a salt dish or clip dental floss?
You know you’re at the Alessi factory when you see their giant-sized signature teapot atop a plinth. Step into the foyer of the business office to see the sinuous staircase and quirky décor, designed by Milan architects Alessandro and Francesco Mendini, before visiting the shop. Open daily, it displays the current line at discounts, as well as discontinued items at even deeper savings. Best of all, it’s a chance to see their entire line, from sleek espresso cups to whimsical can-openers.
Puppieni sells their high-style cookware, kitchen tools and copper pans, at a factory store in Crusinallo di Omegna.Before leaving Omegna, see the works of local manufacturers of quality cookware showcased at Forum Omegna The striking modern building contains a museum, cafe and shop selling products of Calderoni, Lagostina and others. It’s open, free, Tue–Sat (closed 12:30-3) and Sun morning.
To see more Lagostina, including their scratch-proof’Silverstone’ frying pans, all at 30% to 50% off, head for the Parco Commerciale Laghi in nearby Gravellona Toce. The shop, in a new shopping center filled with outlets, is a supermarket of fine stainless steel cookware and utensils; fill your shopping cart as you browse the mind-boggling array of pots and pans, elegant peppermills, cute children’s silverware, gelato spoons, and gadgets you never knew existed. Open 9-7 daily.
You’ll find discounts as high as 50% on knitwear, shoes and ski accessories at Sergio Tacchini, also in Gravellona Toce, open Tue—Fri (closed 12-3), Mon 3-7, Sat 10-12.
For kitchen brands — Lagostina, Ghiotta, Calderoni, Riffuoni – and knives by Inoxbonomi, head toward Lake Maggiore, to Spacci Aziendali Riuniti, in Fondatoce. Two levels of showrooms are filled with discounted copper pans, high-quality pots, woodenware, and all manner of kitchen necessities.
A few miles south in Pallanza, Pretti makes all things terry, from luscious thick bathrobes worthy of the finest hotel to bright beach towels. Prices are deeply discounted on these and on household linens made by others. Open Wed-Sat (closed 12:30-2), and Mon-Tue afternoons.
You’ll pass others, including Rosignol and several upscale clothing outlets, so be sure to pack a fold-up duffel bag to carry all these bargains home.