Rome city centre is home to the showrooms of leading Italian designers and a vast number of stores and small shops of every genre, in part thanks to the intricate layout of the medieval alleys and the Renaissance building interiors that are not suitable for enormous department stores.
The luxury shopping area located in the three parallel streets that converge into Via del Corso, from Piazza di Spagna and the surrounding area, with Via Condotti, Via Borgognona and Via Frattina in particular.
Via Condotti starts in the centre of Piazza di Spagna at the foot of the magnificent Trinità dei Monti steps. The street owes its name to the pipelines that once transported water to the Terme di Agrippa (The Baths of Agrippa). Today it is an extremely elegant street lined with the luxurious stores of the most exclusive designers, such as Bulgari, which inaugurated its atelier in this very spot in 1905. Then there are Hermés, Cartier, Ferragamo, and the historic men’s tailor, Battistoni.
Via Borgognona also boasts other Roman brand names including Fendi, Gai Mattiolo and Laura Biagiotti, while Tiffany, Versace and Byblos are in Via Frattina.
In and around these three streets are the Giorgio Armani, Burberry, Celine, Dior, Dolce & Gabbana, Alberta Ferretti and Louis Vuitton showrooms.
A vast selection of shirt makers and men’s stores can be found in Via del Gambero and Via delle Chariot. For a voyage to yesteryear, a trip to the Fratelli Vigano shop in via Minghetti 7 is a must. Open since 1873, the company stocks hats for all tastes as well as classic men's fashion.
Via del Corso, which connects Piazza del Popolo to Piazza Venezia, is less exclusive. Here you will find a vast selection of sports fashion and accessories and brands that are more popular with young people.
For jewellery, in addition to the historic houses in Via Condotti and Via Frattina, Via Bocca di Leone and Via della Vite are truly worth a visit. If you are after hand-made and artistic items, then head to Via Mario dei Fiori, while antique, ethnic, and more sophisticated items can be found in the suggestive workshops that line the narrow streets of the Monti district.
Antiques dealers are to be found in Via dei Coronari, Via Margutta, Via del Babuino, Via del Pellegrino and Via Giulia. The latter is perhaps the most romantic street in the city, dotted with churches, sumptuous buildings and delightful views and is entirely dedicated to antiques and art dealers. Until the 1960s, many painters had their studios in via del Babuino and via Margutta. Their former studios are now elegant art galleries and antiques shops.
The antiques dealers in Via Panisperna in the Monti district, which may also harbour interesting surprises if you are after vintage objects and furniture, is decidedly more informal.
True antiques enthusiasts know perfectly well that the best deals are to found at markets.
Of the many to be found in Rome on a daily basis, we recommend the market of historic prints near Via del Corso, in Piazza Fontanella Borghese.
This small market takes place every day except Sunday. Here you can almost always find classic prints by Piranesi with some of the loveliest views of the city.
Decidedly more popular and crowded is the Sunday market at Porta Portese. A mix of old and new amid a noisy, fun-filled crowd: antique furniture, new and second-hand clothes, theatre costumes, food, flowers, bric-a-brac and Chinoiserie, Russian caviar and cameras, old household appliances and junk.
The Borghetto Flaminio market in Piazzale della Marina is on every Sunday from 10am to 7pm. Two-hundred and forty stands with items, clothes, small antiques, curios, books and crafts.
Near Piazza Navona you can stroll along the picturesque Via del Governo Vecchio, a small vintage fashion district in the city. The street is lined with boutiques and old stores with no signs that display original and timeless items. The most well-known are Arsenale, Mado, Jade & More, Tempi Moderni and Indecoroso.
Vestiti Usati Cinzia and Maga Morgana are goldmines for those who enjoy unearthing collector’s garments amid the confusion. These shops are great for eyeglasses, bags and boots.
The Trastevere district is full of small independent boutiques, original furniture and home accessories shops and small bookshops. The exclusive perfumery in Via della Lungaretta is highly recommended for its selection of fragrances that would be impossible to find elsewhere. The streets are lined with stalls selling all kinds of crafts Until late at night.
In Via Cola di Rienzo, not far from St. Peter’s, are the large fashion, lingerie, accessory and bag shops. Stop in at the historic Castroni, the most famous shop in Rome for special gourmet foods from all corners of the globe. For a tasty snack, head for the nearby Franchi, which serves the best supplì in the city.
From Piazza della Repubblica you can turn into Via Nazionale, where at number 252 you will find Melbookstore, one of the largest bookstores in the city, with a large section of cinema and show business books. Continuing along Via Nazionale, you will find a vast selection of fashion, accessories and perfume shops.
Feltrinelli, one of Italy’s leading publishers and book stores is located in Piazza Argentina. The store boasts more than 70,000 titles and a large separate CD and multimedia section. Other Feltrinelli shops in the historic district are located in Via del Babuino, with an ample section of books on Rome, and in the Galleria Alberto Sordi, where you will also find the large luxury department store, La Rinascente.
The Arion bookshop in Via Veneto 42 is the one that stays open the latest, only closing at midnight on Friday and Saturday nights. You can relax and read in the little room upstairs while sipping a drink or a cup of coffee. There is also a selection of foreign language books.
The Bibli bookshop that stays open until midnight is located in the heart of Trastevere, at Via dei Fienaroli 28. The shop doubles as an internet café where you can leaf through a book while sipping a drink or a coffee, or even enjoy one of the many small cultural events they host there.