Friday, July 29, 2011

Thrifters Around the World: Marco From Italy and Amsterdam

Italian expat Marco is a mod-obsessed thrifter who runs Mid Century Home. He loves "learning and discovering the mid-century modern design era and thrifting in Amsterdam and across Europe to share my findings with like-minded thrifters and design lovers."

After seeing photos of his thrifting adventures in beautiful Amsterdam, I had to ask him about thrifting in Italy, and all around Europe.

Tell us a little bit about yourself, Marco.

I'm an Italian expat who’s been living in Amsterdam for two and half years and loving the city so far.
I'm a mid-century modern design enthusiast -that's why I started my blog [Mid Century Home] - where I write about design, architecture, the designers of that amazing period and -of course- of my thrifting tours.

When and why did you start thrifting?

Without knowing it -I didn't know what 'thrifting' meant until one year ago- I started more or less 12 years ago. I used to go to a second hand store in my hometown, hunting for treasures: or as my mother would put it, ‘the weird stuff'.  

You're originally from Italy, did you thrift there? What was it like? (I lived in Naples, Italy for 4 years as a kid and miss it; there were no thrift stores, though!)

Well, in Italy, what are normally defined as thrift or consignment stores were not common until ten years ago. And still today only big cities have them.

I still go thrifting in Italy every time I have an opportunity and I especially love those fake baroque objects or amazing handcrafted early XIX Century furniture, nothing from the mid-century though.

(Van's Note: Oh, I remember those fake baroque objects!)

What cities have you thrifted in?

So far: Palermo -my hometown-, Rome , Berlin, London and Amsterdam; of course. 

[A beautiful summer market in Amsterdam. Imagine thrifting here!]

What do you think makes thrifting in Europe different from thrifting in North America?

I never thrifted in the US but I think people in Europe thrift having something specific in mind -something they need- rather than for the fun of collecting or looking for the design piece.

Also I believe that the kind of goods you can find are different. In Amsterdam it is really easy to find mid century German potteries for a few euros -for example- or handmade Scandinavian pieces...basically because we're in North Europe where these products were made and sold the most.

What is "thrifting" called in Amsterdam and in Italy? Any fun nicknames for thrifting?

Actually, even when I talk with my friends that I would call 'thrifters' they've no idea what thrifting means! :) I think is an American word only.

Here as in Italy, I never heard of a nickname to define 'us'.

Is there a large second-hand shopping/junking culture in Amsterdam and Italy? Is it seen as something dirty or something for low-income families?

In North Europe, in general, there is. Recycling has been part of North European culture for decades. For them the re-use is absolutely normal and socially accepted.

In Italy it is a little different. People who buy second hand objects -or take them from the street- are usually considered poor. Except for those who go to well known 'art markets' that are considered collectors. But as I told you, things are changing quickly, fortunately.

What are flea markets like in Amsterdam and Italy?

I don't see many differences between a big Italian flea market like Porta Portese in Rome or the Ij Hallen here in Amsterdam. Except that Porta Portese is weekly and the Ij Hallen monthly.

You can find a lot of rubbish in both of them but, as I said before, also local design gems. Everywhere, negotiating is a must! 

What are thrift stores like in Amsterdam and Italy?

Thrift stores in Amsterdam are more like your Salvation Army basically. People donate to the store the stuff that they don't want anymore and the store keeps the money. In Italy,instead, the stores I visited have more the structure of a consignment store. North Europeans are probably more generous.

Is there a large creative and crafting culture in Amsterdam and Italy?

Absolutely! Both the Italians and the Dutch are very creative people, albeit in different ways. The Dutch have a very long tradition in the design and art field and Italians…well you know :) 

You write about mid century design, who are your favorite mod designers?

That's a very difficult one! :D Even though I'm a fan of streamlined designs like the Le Corbusier or Walter Gropius ones - that were the inspiration of many mid-century designers- I really love Finn Juhl for the organic and sculptural forms of his pieces.  He was unconventional and brave. I like this kind of people.

What's your favorite thing to collect from thrift stores?

I'm addicted to lamps and German vases! But I'm forcing myself to stop buying them…my cellar is already packed and I keep changing my house decoration to have them around. My friends think I'm a bit weird.

(Van's Note: Such is the fate of a thrifter/collector! I think my friends are used to my weirdo collections now.)

Do you have a bad-ass collection of mid century modern treasures you've collected over the years?

Probably lamps, again. In my house there are more lamps than furniture probably…but at least I have the perfect atmosphere all the time ;) 

Marco's website Mid Century Home is all about "Sharing, learning and discovering the mid-century modern design era and its protagonists with other mid-century enthusiasts." You should check it out, I love the clean design fun photos, and accessible/conversational tone!


  If you would like to be featured in Thrifters Around the World, shoot me an e-mail.  I would love to interview you and chat about thrifting where you live.

Past Thrifters Around The World Interviews:
Daily thrifting updates, information, & Inspiration: Follow Thrift Core on Twitter and Facebook.


  1. Thanks for having me here Vanessa! It was a lot of fun to answer to your questions :)


  2. Thank -you- for participating Marco! Excellent answers. I love how your mom and friends say you hunt down the "weird stuff," my family and friends say the same things ;)

  3. I shared this on Facebook! Awesome interview! The pictures rock too! I want to visit Italy again so badly!It's one place I would really love to say, "I've thrifted there." :)

  4. Jackie: I love his photos, too. There were no thrifts where I lived in Italy, but I miss the whole damn beautiful place regardless.

    Thanks for sharing this!

  5. Great interview, would love to see Marco's lamp collection. I love lamps and did a little picture storybook on my blog of the my lamps.

  6. awesome inside from a male point of view! voglio andare in italia <3

  7. Miss Lou: Yep! I need to interview more male thrifters.

  8. I always love reading Mid Century Home as Marco seems to like the same kind of tat, I mean gems, as me! Good interview and pics :) Emma

  9. Teresa: I'm checking it all out ;) Thanks for the feedback and letting me know.

    Emma: Thank you!

  10. I haven't been in Italy but I appreciate the designs of modern design era. It looks fun and unique.

    Architectural Column

  11. I think Marco's website is so interesting in home decorating during modern era. I hope you would post a home cleaning or repair tools to used on. Thanks!

    Chimney Cleaners

  12. Great site for those who want to save up, like me! Thanks

  13. How did your home improvement project go?

  14. Italy is an amazing place indeed.. I was there only once.


I love reading your comments. Thank you for adding to the discussion! I always reply to any and all questions.

Like us on Facebook

Related Posts with Thumbnails