Before my first trip to Italy in September 2008, I purchased a pair of killer sunglasses from a local shop. They were big, brown and blingy, meaning, that they were encrusted with rhinestones. They were the perfect companion for any diva on her premier trip to the eternal city of Rome. I even bought an attachment cord so that I could hang them around my neck when they were not in use, ensuring that I would not misplace them and thereby lose them.
On the fourth day of my trip I looked down and saw just the cord and no sunglasses.
I figured I had lost them somewhere between the Pantheon and Piazza Navonna.
I thought I was doomed.
September is still a very hot month in Italy, and the sun is as bright as in the hottest days in July.
I knew my eyes could not take the glare, but I was adamant not to spend a small fortune to procure another pair.
All the shops I passed wanted at least twenty Euros for a pair of Sunglasses. At the time that was about $35.00 U.S.
While visiting the forum, I happened to come across a vendor who had a blanket a strewn out over the ground next to the Mamertine Prison.
There were about fifteen pairs of sunglasses on display.
As I perused over the lot trying to deduce which pair would be the most cost effective, the vendor pointed a pair out to me.
The price tag said forty euros.
“Troppo caro,” I told him explaining they were too expensive.
He then held,out a pair that I had noticed earlier.
I handed them back.
He asked me how much I was willing to pay for them.
“Five euros,” I told him.
He wasn’t happy.
I didn’t care.
Sensing my resolve he then turned around picked up a brown paper bag and slipped the sunglasses inside and then handed me the bag.
Incredibly surprised and not believing my luck, I quickly handed him five euros.
He was so unimpressed with my bartering skills that he didn’t even look at me as I handed him the money.
Needless to say he never thanked me.
Again, I didn’t care.
Please understand, I am not one to barter. I understand the need for people to make a living. I am usually very compliant when it comes to prices.
However, being inequitably gouged is another matter entirely.
There was a logo on both the top and left hand corners of the sunglasses. I knew that I had seen it before, and should know the brand it stood for, but the answer eluded me.
It was only after I arrived home, that I realized that it was the Chanel logo on the glasses.
Understand, I knew that the glasses I purchased were not a genuine Chanel product. Knock offs are big business. However, I did not purchase it because it had the Chanel logo.
I purchased the sunglasses only because I was desperate for a pair of sunglasses without feeling I had wasted my money.
It was about a month after our trip to Italy that I read of Italian law enforcement officials cracking down on bootlegged merchandise.
Anyone caught with bootlegged merchandise was subject to a five thousand euro penalty.
I could only think of how fortunate I was that I no one noticed my sunglasses and questioned me about them.
At that time, one euro was worth 1.65 Canadian.
Our entire trip to Italy had cost that amount.
Each time I think back on this, I tend to feel a little sick inside.
Needless to say, on our 2012 trip, there were zero designer labels when we packed up to go home.
In fact, if it even remotely looked as a designer knock off it wasn’t coming home with us.
Six years later, I still have the same sunglasses and revel in the memories that they
It was without a doubt, the best five euros that I have ever spent.