Any trip or time spent in Italy is not complete without buying an Italian leather handbag or two (or three). Dedicated readers will know I have a thing for handbags. I have always blamed my mother and grandmother for this. They both loved good quality handbags.

My mother used to buy me Oroton handbags when I was a teenager.This was when their bags were made in Australia. I still have a black leather one that carries the label Made In Australia. Must dig that out to show you. And I have my mother’s silver mesh Oroton coin purse from the 1970s. These days, Oroton bags are largely made in China along with other countries (i.e. not Australia).

I should show you my (small) collection of 1940s and 1950s handbags. LOVE vintage bags. Every Christmas or birthday, my grandmother would give me a wallet or handbag. So it’s totally their fault you see.

I was living in Testaccio during my recent two months in Rome. Within striking distance of the fabulous Testaccio markets. One stall owner there had great Italian leather handbags. I did try to avoid him. Sort of. But the day I flew out of Rome (June 30), I saw some fabulous bags and pounced. I mean they are a fraction of the price you’d pay for an Italian leather handbag here in New Zealand.

Before moving to New Zealand, I sold quite a few of my handbags so my collection isn’t as vast as you might think. I do have two prized Mandarina Duck bags (one was given to me by my great Aussie mate – she bought it in Rome) and a Louis Vuitton that is well over 10 years old. Oh and The Ferragamo. But I try to avoid buying The Brands these days.

I fell in love with three handbags. Yep, three. How to decide between them? A gorgeous soft black leather bag that would be perfect for Winter in NZ and a blue bag that would look great with my new Italian turquoise sandals (also bought at Testaccio markets). And then there was a white handbag. Normally, I wouldn’t do white. Too old lady. But I loved the design and the leather was soooooooo soft.

So there was no option – try to look disinterested and bargain as hard as I could. The stall owner started off by saying the black leather bag was €50.00; the blue was the same; and the white one was €60.00. Quick mental addition told me the three would set me back €160.00 or around NZ$243.00. Honestly, I don’t know why I was thinking of bargaining because ONE Italian leather handbag in Australia or NZ would probably cost more than the three combined.

I carried on about the colours. I actually don’t really like blue. Was there a red version? And the white one, soooooooooo last year. And then the trump card – the markets were moving to a new location. June 30 was to be the last time the Testaccio markets were held in a rather sad, old run-down building. I hoped he’d want to shift his stock to make room for new collections.

I did get him down to €135.00 (around NZ$204.00) for the three bags. The dude told me his bags are from Florence. Who knows if this is the truth but I coughed up the Euro and then wondered how on earth to fit them into my red Roncato suitcase I bought in Italy last year. Solution – buy a second Roncato suitcase. El Hubs wanted one, so I bought a green one for his birthday present. Then packed everything and flew out of Rome at 11.00pm. Phew.

So three gorgeous Italian leather handbags came home with me. The black one I use constantly. It’s super soft and a great design with side zippers. The leather is just getting softer and softer. The only thing I don’t like is that the interior has black lining. Makes it hard to find things and I would have preferred some funky coloured or patterned inner lining. The blue bag will be great for Summer and has gorgeous gold detailing. The white one is a fab design but I’m considering dying it. I’m just not into white handbags but there wasn’t another colour choice available. Or maybe I’ll just wear it during Summer and get over the white colour business.

Such a soft Italian leather handbag!

Genuine leather and Made in Italy.

This bag is actually blue – looks more green in this photo. Lovely gold detailing.

Too old lady?

Very soft and Made in Italy.