If you are travelling, shopping usually features somewhere on the agenda. Rather than nipping across the Tasman to search for shoes, antique enthusiasts plan exotic trips to search for treasures. Local markets are alive with culture, food and often antiques and collectibles. Markets are tourist destinations in their own right and below are a selection of some of the best.
When in Rome
The Great Antiques Market in Rome is one of the largest in Italy, filling the Autodromo di Vallelunga with eager antiquarians and collectors in the first week of October each year.
Visitors can expect a huge range of relics and paraphernalia from gadgets, grandfather clocks, and remnants of Roman life to period kitsch. It specialises in vintage cars, motorcycles, and furniture. If you may be in the market for any of these, it may pay to check the shipping options and any other paperwork that may be required.
The city of Malacca is an antique in itself, with buildings preserved from Portuguese invasions in the 16th century and Dutch influences from the 17th century. The most famous of these are the red thick-walled Stadhuys, believed to be the oldest Dutch building in the East, and the salmon-red Christ Church.
90 minutes drive from Kuala Lumpur, Malacca is a haven for bargain hunters all year round, and authentic Malaysian and Chinese artifacts and relics can be found among a host of interesting collectibles.
Jalan Hang Jebat, formerly known as Jonker Street, is known worldwide as one of the best places to hunt and bargain for antiques. Every weekend, the narrow, twisted streets close to traffic and hawkers on pushcarts gather to sell all kinds of delicious street food and local items.
For the antique fanatic, the world’s largest antique show in Atlantic City, New Jersey, is a must-see.
Held twice yearly in March and October, the Atlantic City Convention Centre fills with over 100,000 people scouring Tiffany lamps and metalwork, American folk art, European and American bronzes, drawings, prints, fine furniture. Collectors can also get their own pieces appraised by celebrity dealers.
The Atlantique City show also specialises in American memorabilia, such as coin-operated machines, the macabre, advertising, medical and scientific technology. Ticket prices start at US$20.
Total entertainment in San Pedro
The “Feria de Antiguedades de San Telmo” or San Pedro Telmo Antiques Fair isn’t so much a market as a total entertainment experience. The Plaza Dorrego is transformed each Sunday morning into a flea market, with hundreds of booths selling everything from used tourist “junk” to pricey antiques.
There are beautiful old chandeliers, antique silver bolos and bridles from long-gone gauchos and ancient apothecary bottles on offer. It’s a great place to browse and watch how the locals shop. Telmo is also the heart of Buenos Aires’ tango district, and for small change, you can watch a dramatic dance in one of the market’s open areas.
Most of the antique shops in San Telmo are open seven days a week from 10am to 7pm.
Melbourne is famous for its shopping and those looking for antiques and bric-a-brac will not be disappointed.
The Sunday Market in Southbank is located in the Arts Centre and has over 150 stalls with several hideaway antique stores offering plenty to fossick through. Discover a myriad of treasures ranging from antique kaleidoscopes to organic teas, silks, sculptures, baubles, gems and pearls.
New items are also plentiful, with gifted artisans and craftspeople marketing their handmade wares from quaint shops, studios and bazaars. Artwork may be found everywhere on canvas, ceramics, glass, metals, textiles, earthenware, stoneware, terracotta and clay pots.