Around the World in Lingerie: Sicily– A Report from My Travels

Taormina, Sicily-- Mount Etna is in the background

Taormina, Sicily

Even though I was on vacation with my family in Sicily with no intention of getting any blog fodder, nevertheless I happened on several lingerie experiences that I thought I should share with you all. Given that I was only in Sicily a week, I am hardly an expert on the local lingerie, but I thought I would share with you some of my observations.

I knew that lingerie just could not be avoided when I was admiring the amazing mosaics at the beautiful Villa Romana del Casale and saw a mosaic known as the ‘Bikini Girls’.

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‘Bikini Girls’ Mosaic from Villa Casale

The women pictured are actually athletes holding various pieces of athletic equipment to participate in popular Roman sports of the time such as long jump and discus. It’s amazing how contemporary this mosaic from the 4th century AD looks! I think it’s pretty safe to say that the bikini is an ancient, rather than a modern, invention– although of course the name is terribly anachronistic. If yuo ever get a chance to go to Sicily, visiting this site is an absolute must, as there are so many more amazing mosaics.

Bras at a market in Siracusa, Sicily

Bras at a market in Siracusa, Sicily

I also spotted these bras and panties at an outdoor market (that also sold fish and vegetables) in Siracusa. I didn’t get much of a chance to examine the pieces closely, but it seems pretty clear they didn’t view these as clothes necessary for trying on. The style of the knickers seemed quite plain and old fashioned, which made me think this was a more popular place to buy underwear for more functional than fashionable purposes.

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Lingerie stall in a market in Siracusa, Sicily

I had more of a complete lingerie experience visiting the Italian lingerie chains Intimissimi and Yamamay. I had visited both of these stores in previous visits to Italy, but this time I really got a chance to see what was available at these fashionable, widespread chains.

Intimissimi in Agrigento, Sicily

Intimissimi in Agrigento, Sicily

The aesthetic of Intimissimi is one that immediately appeals to me– it’s got a very simple yet girly style. They used to sell Intimissimi products in Victoria’s Secret stores about 6 or 7 years ago, but currently I don’t believe they are currently available in the United States (they do have locations across Europe).

Intimissimi in Agrigento, Sicily

Intimissimi in Agrigento, Sicily

I don’t speak much Italian, which meant that communication with the shop assistant involved a lot of point and miming and well as me frantically trying to remember how to say ’34’ or ’32’. I was instantly drawn to a sweet white set with nautical details, which I actually purchased and will be reviewing later this week.

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What I didn’t realize when I entered the store was the extremely limited sizing that was available. When I asked to try a 32C in the bra that I liked, the shop assistant informed me that they “only had size B.” Which means they only has 32B, 34B, 36B (maybe 38?). Once I learned that, I took a closer look around the shop and say that there were only a few bras that were marked with A-B-C sizes and even fewer that went to a D-cup. These were marked with a special sign!

Intimissimi

Intimissimi

Basically, it seems like getting any cup size other than a B is ‘special sizing.’ I ended up buying a 34B, and I will be sharing my thoughts on that size when I do a review. I’m still reeling from a store that makes Victoria’s Secret’s sizing look wide-ranging! Also, when I visited the other lingerie store, Yamamay, it seemed that they simple offered 1B-2B-3B sizing in their bras, as far as I could tell, so this seems like a regular thing to do there.

Yamamay in Agrigento, Sicily

Yamamay in Agrigento, Sicily

Yamamay was a store I had visited several years before and really liked, but I was disappointed with the selection when I was there this time. The styles seemed boring and the materials were low quality.

Yamamay in Agrigento, Sicily

Yamamay in Agrigento, Sicily

Overall, I really enjoyed seeing what lingerie was available in Sicily and I would love to hear what you think!

What experiences you have had with Italian lingerie?

15 Comments
  1. I know exactly how you feel about the sizing. We have the same problem in Brazil. And we have a Intimissimi store here, I have to say I really don’t find it very appealing. Got there twice, once to check the store and once to try to find a camisole or a babydoll, and everything seemed boring. Only a few pieces looked nice, but these were way too expensive. We have plenty of these styles you saw on the market, as well, in our department stores. Boring :(

    Anyway, I’m glad you got some rest on your vacations, Sicily seems like an amazing place!

    • Intimissimi is certainly not the most exciting brand– but they do have some cute stuff. It reminds me of ‘Aerie’ here in the US, but I don’t like how almost all of Aerie’s bras are padded, so Intimissimi appeals to me more.

      • I actually like padded bras, so I go the opposite way. Aerie seems like a nice brand to buy “everyday stuff”. Since I don’t know about their quality, I’ll test next time I’m at the US, but I see what you think. Maybe the next collections at Intimissimi seem nicer to me, I will keep looking, anyway.

  2. The phenomenon of selling lingerie in open markets is quite common and I’ve witnessed it in other countries around the Mediterranean, Latin America, and even England. Quality is never great and the brands are often obscure ones that try to mimic better known brands and styles.

    With all due respect to Sicily my guess is that Italian lingerie as a whole is likely to be better represented in cities like Rome or Milan.

    I really like your historic, artistic, and social takes on lingerie. You had some posts in here that tackle lingerie from those unique angles in the past and I look forward to see more of them in the future. It really gives your blog an added dimension one can hardly find anywhere else.
    Thanks!

    • Yes, Rome and Milan are definitely sure to have much more lingerie! It was cool just to see what was available there since I was there any way.

      I am definitely planning to do more pieces with an artistic perspective– unfortunately those take some of the most time, which is why it’s hard to do a lot of them!

  3. HI Girls,
    I have nice Intimissimi lacy, soft set I bought last year in Kraków (Cracow, Poland). Soft bra, brasilian knickers and thongs. I’m going to feature this set on my blog, but probably next month the earliest. I have to say that I like Intimissimi and last Christmas I bought cotton pyjama set from them which I love! I don’t know Yamamay and regards the market bras and knickers, is a lot of those “quality” and “look” of lingerie on every market in Poland 😉
    Nice that you took few pics, sweetheart and those “Bikini Girls” Mosaic…. I bet is cool to see it live.

  4. We have the same thing with market lingerie in ex-USSR. In fact in 90s markets were the place where most women bought their bras and knickers (horrible times!). Now of cause we have a lot of boutiques and nice corners in malls, but markets are still there, quality usually is really bad, but sometimes you can buy there nice cotton knickers really cheap.

    About not trying. Bra fit was guessed by placing the bra front to back over clothes to evaluate the band and cups were just evaluated visually and by size.

  5. I have no experience with Italian lingerie so it was cool to hear about yours. It’s interesting to hear about a mass manufacturer other than Victoria’s Secret and their limited sizing. Only a B cup, really?

  6. We have those bras in the market stalls in the Netherlands, too. If I ever saw my size I’d buy it out of curiosity, but since my size isn’t sold in the bra shops either, I think my chances of finding it are slim.

  7. Yeah, that’s how bra sizes in Italy are. The standard sizes go from first to fifth (I’m not quite sure what the correspond to: 30 to 38? 32 to 40? i don’t think there’s a standard), and all in a B cup. Cup sizes are not a familiar concept, in a way – for instance, a person with a big bust is “a fourth” or “a fifth”, rather than “a D-cup” or “a [band size]D”.
    The funny/sad thing is that the text in the intimissimi window in your picture says “scopri la taglia perfetta per te” (discover the perfect size for you): they’ve recently added a few more sizes and they’re hailing it as a great innovation (fifteen sizes – I found a commercial, if anyone is interested: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=OKwg2LFoRbg)
    I live in Rome and I don’t think there’s much more here. Intimissimi and Yamamay are pretty much “the” lingerie brands everywhere in Italy. There’s two more I can think of: Tezenis, which is aimed more at teens, is cheaper and has the same first to fifth size range, and Lovable, that opened a couple of stores recently, and has had D cups for longer.
    I wear a 28FF, so I buy my bras on the internet, and you can probably tell from my tone that I’m not very happy with the bra offerings here. For perspective, when I discovered Victoria’s Secret (years before I started ordering bras online) I was in awe – they had so many sizes!

    • Love your comment! I can imagine this must frustrate you to no end. I will check out those other brands because I like to keep up on these things and I’m so glad you shared your experience. I saw a sign about having sizes A-C and I thought it was a specifically small-bust range at first– then I understood.

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