Organizing a pleasant day to go shopping in Rome is not a difficult task if we take into account that in this Italian metropolis you can find almost everything. You will be impressed especially by spectacular fashion – as we all know, Italians are great trendsetters and excellent clothing designers. The same goes for accessories and artisan products. Luxury products may have exorbitant prices, but it is also possible to find affordable and even cheap items – shopping in Rome is a pleasure for every budget.
Shopping Areas in Rome
Via del Corso is the most important shopping street in Rome and one of the most important streets in the city, with an endless row of affordable clothing shops. It is definitely the place to go.
Piazza di Spagna and the streets around it are the epicentre of luxury shopping. Here you will find the most exclusive boutiques in Rome that include prestigious international brands such as Prada, Armani, Gucci, Bulgari, etc.
Via del Babuino is the area reserved for artistic shopping where you can find all kinds of art pieces and decorative objects, sometimes at very good prices, and sometimes at scary ones.
Tourists who visit Rome for the first time may be surprised by the many street stalls on most of the busy streets, selling imitations of luxury items. You will find such stalls in most major cities in Italy, and in Rome in particular. They sell mostly fashion accessories: handbags, sunglasses, watches etc.
Another curiosity when it comes to shopping in Rome, is that unlike other major cities in Europe there are basically no shopping malls in the city centre, although galleries such as beautiful historical Galleria Alberto Sordi can resemble the concept of a shopping centre.
Souvenirs, Gifts and Typical Products from Rome
Italy is world-famous for its excellence in fashion, design and gourmet food (and cars – arguably, a Ferrari makes for a nice souvenir). The choice of products of superior quality and divine beauty will spoil you. Here are some tips for things worth taking back home.
1. Accessories & Handbags
Italy is paradise of refined and sophisticated accessories that you will just want to have. Leather goods are of sensual and seductively perfect design, always elegant. The choice of handbags made in Italy exceeds anything you can find in other countries. Personally, I never leave Italy without a new handbag. Or two. Or four. Other recommended items include leather gloves, wallets, belts.
Less affordable: Piquadro, Coccinelle.
The most famous: Prada, Valentino, Furla, Fendi, Miu Miu, Gucci.
Italian shoes are renown for style, sexy and sophisticated forms, softness of leather and durability.
Some affordable producers include: Nero Giardini, Igi&Co, Cafè Noir, and innovative and super-comfortable Geox.
Less affordable: Sergio Rossi, Tod’s.
The most famous: Armani, Valentino, Gucci, Just Cavalli, Salvatore Ferragamo, Bottega Veneta.
Italy = fashion, we all know that. Actually, great offer of clothes, quickly changing moda and thus frequent sales with really huge discounts make Italy one of the best countries for clothes’ shopping. The quality-price ratio is usually excellent. Really everybody can find here something for themselves.
For fashion shopping, I recommend Via del Corso – there are a lot of good, affordable shops along it.
For world’s famous luxury brands, the best places are around Via Condotti and Piazza di Spagna.
Gourmet food is one of the greatest delights of Italy. One of the products definitely worth bringing back home are truffles. Italian black and white truffles are among the best in the world. The easiest forms to buy them are macinated as a crème (crema di tartufo or patè di tartufo) in a small jar, or as an olive oil aromatised with truffles (olio al tartufo), or truffle cheese (formaggio al tartufo; my favourite is Pecorino di Moliterno al tartufo).
Range of Italian cheeses is infinite. The most famous ones include: Parmesan (Parmigiano Reggiano), Grana Padano, Gorgonzola, Mozzarella di Bufala, Provolone, Pecorino Romano, Asiago.
A selection of excellent cheeses can be found in any grocery store or supermarket.
6. Cold cuts
There is plenty of choice of Italian cured meats. The famous ones include Prosciutto di Parma, Bresaola, and different types of salame, salsiccia, guanciale or spicy sausages with chilli from Calabria. Again: look for them in a grocery store or supermarket, or in a specialized delicatessen shop.
Torrone is a nougat, which can be soft (morbid) or hard (duro). It is made of egg whites, honey and almonds, or sometimes other nuts as walnuts or hazelnuts. It’s a typical sweet, sold in bars and easy to transport.
Other typical sweets included Panpepato and Pangiallo – nuts and dried fruits with spices, and pasta di mandorle – aromatic almond cakes with a soft heart, and Amaretti – sweet cookies with apricot kernel aroma. You will find them in a grocery store or supermarket, so there is no need to overpay in a souvenir shop.
The sunniest Italian liquer comes from Sorrento, south of Naples, and it’s made of lemons. Refreshing, sweet, scented and joyfully yellow, it is absolutely delicious. Italians drink it as digestivo – after meals. Actually, many Italians drink it daily. Souvenir shops sell it slightly overpriced in beautifully shaped bottles – it the shape of Italy, or a half moon, or a mandolino. You will find it in any supermarket for much more convenient prices.
Italian wines are world class, with the finest ones classified with the appellation DOC or DOCG, produced in no less than 300 areas.
Every region has its wines, however the most well known are wines from Tuscany, Sardinia, Puglia and Sicily. My personal favourite is Aglianico del Vulture from Basilicata, other famous ones include: Barbaresco, Barolo, Primitivo, Montepulciano d’Abbruzzo, Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino, Negroamaro, Valpolicella, Lambrusco, Fiano, Moscato.
10. Objects for home
Elegant Italian design never goes out of fashion. Refined and subtle kitchenware, moka coffee makers, a set of splendid cappuccino or espresso cups, houseware tools and decorations, subtle bathroom sets, towels, throws or pillowcases of sophisticated patterns – there is a richness of choice.
Look for shops close to the Pantheon area or in Via del Corso.
11. Religious souvenirs
As the heart of the Christian religion, the Vatican City attracts a lot of religious tourism. For those wishing to bring home a reminder of the visit in the Holy See, there are plenty of stalls and shops with all kinds of Christian souvenirs all around the Vatican City. Shops with refined and superior quality articles are located along Via della Conciliazione.
Markets of Rome
The markets of Rome are one of the main shopping attractions of the city, they are everywhere and practically have the same souvenirs in all the stalls.
Another alternative to buy souvenirs and gifts typical for Rome is to walk around the Vatican City – surprisingly they are even cheaper there than in street stalls, even though the Vatican is extremely expensive.
Religious tourism attracts a large number of visitors to Rome throughout the year and enjoys as much popularity as cultural tourism, since both types of visits are closely related to the concentration of works of art in temples and religious monuments which are embodied in souvenirs and gifts of all kinds of decorative objects that can be acquired at any time of the visit.
For tourists who want to buy a gastronomic souvenir, the choice is endless – Italy is paradise of gourmet food lovers. Limoncello liquer, wine, aromatic vinegars, exquisite olive oils and cheeses like Parmesan, Gorgonzola, Pecorino Romano, prosciutto and endless other delicacies are very popular with visitors and can be purchased at any grocery store or supermarket.