From the Guardian:
Crowds have been flocking to the Vatican this week, not to get a papal blessing or see the Sistine Chapel, but to snap up bargains at the winter sale at the Holy See's department store.
As Rome's post-Christmas sale season gets under way the Vatican store is offering some of the biggest savings in town on televisions, jewellery, designer handbags and clothing. But it is also the most exclusive event - it helps to know a cardinal to get in.
The three-floor emporium inside the Vatican is officially open only to Vatican staff, clergy and diplomats, but crafty Romans able to borrow a membership card from a friendly priest or Vatican cleaner are also taking advantage of the 20% to 40% discounts on the low tax-free prices offered all year round.
Italian daily Il Giornale said bargains included a leather handbag by Italian firm Coccinelle for £71, compared with £119 in shops a stone's throw away. Ralph Lauren shirts are being snapped up for £42, down from £79.
For the 1,500 staff of the tiny 108-acre state and their friends the store also offers suitcases, flat-screen TVs, chocolates, cigarettes and women's clothing including high-end brands such as Max Mara. Baume & Mercier watches worth thousands of euros are also available.
"It's not just the prices that I come for but the quality of the goods and the choice of top-notch brands," said a shopper.
The store was shifted from a basement to spacious premises in the Vatican's former railway station three years ago by Cardinal Edmund Szoka. The former archbishop of Detroit was appointed president of the Governorate of Vatican City, similar to the office of mayor, in 2001, with the mission to turn around the city state's forlorn finances.
Nearby another big earner is the Vatican's petrol pump, also open to membership card holders and offering tax-free fuel at around 60p a litre, 20p lower than Romans normally pay. A packet of Camel cigarettes costs £1.80, down from £2.30.
Vatican shopping also stretches to a supermarket and chemist, located in a small network of streets near St Peter's Square.
At the Paolo VI pharmacy the bargains can be had all year round, while across the street nuns pushing shopping trolleys take advantage of discounts of up to 10% in the well-stocked supermarket. A staff member said there were bigger savings in the wines and spirits aisle, where a three-litre bottle of Glen Grant whisky costs £19 and a bottle of Moët & Chandon £15.
I have to admit, while I have seen the Vatican supermarket and pharmacy, I have never been to the Mall. However, I have heard from friends with more priviledges that I, that it is a great place to shop.