Shopping in Rome requires patience: the Eternal City has not given in to standardized shopping malls and if you want to see the best shops during your Rome tour, be prepared to cover a bit of a distance as they are scattered around the city. However, it is absolutely worth it and there are many high quality Italian brands hiding on old narrow streets for the best shopping in Rome.
Many shops in the center of Rome are classified as “historical” as they have been part of the city’s life for many decades and even centuries. They have remained a family business since the opening and have preserved their storefront, furnishings and the atmosphere. You can find a full list of the shops here.
If you are looking for some quality antiques head to Via Margutta, Via del Babuino or Via dei Coronari where you can stroll along old shabby buildings and peek into beautiful hidden courtyards. Expect to pay high prices for top-notch rare antiques.
Ecclesiastical shops around the Vatican area are fantastic for finding high quality unusual gift. How about a pair of cardinal-red Merino wool socks, beautiful gilded fabric or delicate rosary beads? You will find all that in the historic Gamarelli shop (Via di Santa Chiara, 34) that has been supplying clothing to the Popes, cardinals and bishops since 1798.
Perhaps, only in Rome you will see a shop like Spazio Sette (Via dei Barbieri, 7): trendy modern furniture is surrounded by 17th– century frescoes in this former cardinal’s palazzo. Here you can also find some quality tableware, kitchenware and gifts.
For edible goodies to bring home there is a wealth of options in Rome. Castroni (Via Cola di Rienzo, 196 or Via Frattina, 79) or Volpetti (Via Marmorata, 47) are the most famous of the city’s food shops. They sell a wide range of Italian specialties to satisfy any gourmet.
Looking for something made in Rome? The Monti district is famous for its goldsmiths, artists’ studios and independent designer clothes shops. You will find them all, at very reasonable prices, on Via del Boschetto.
One of my personal favourites shops in Rome is Ai Monasteri (corso Rinascimento, 72) near Piazza Navona where you can find sweets, liquors, honey, cosmetics hand-made in Italian monasteries. How about Elixir of Love? It is based on a 16th-century recipe and only 10 bottles are made each year!
Before you dash off to do your best shopping in Rome remember that many stores, especially the smaller ones, are closed on Monday mornings and 2-3 weeks in August.
Photos by Norma07/Flickr, Castroni, Yukino Miyazawa.