Thursday, May 3, 2012

Where to Shop When In Rome

Most of your time in Rome will be spent seeing the wondrous sights and eating as much pizza, pasta, and gelato as you can get your hands on, but a little shopping may also be in order. Here are some of my favorite spots to burn a little cash.

Via del Corso is the main shopping drag in Rome, but I prefer Via Cola di Rienzo across the river. It's less crowded but still easy to access. It may not have all of the big name designers, but it's home to most of my favorite stores in the city.

The bustling aisles of Castroni are always on my list. It has a ton of delicious goodies hidden inside and I usually find a good amount of souvenirs for my family here since we are all food junkies. They have great spices, chocolates, and even vacuum sealed risotto so you can take a taste of Italy back to states.

Down the street is Zara Home. If you love Zara clothing, you'll love this place too. I wanted to buy every towel, blanket, wine glass, and bathroom accessory I could get my hands on in here! They have a wide array of beautiful items for your home at a really affordable price. I particularly love their dining ware and bath textiles. The color palettes are great and it's fun to think of Italy every time you use your Zara dishes or hand towel.

Via Cola di Rienzo is also home to Sabon, which I've already gushed about but I will do so again. My love affair with Sabon actually began while I was living in Trastevere and I've been smitten ever since. I am head over heals in love with the Lavender Apple Body Scrub. It makes your skin feel baby soft and the scent is heavenly! They have expanded to many other cities now, but if you don't have one in your area it's worth a visit. The soap flakes are a fun addition to a guest bath or sprinkled into a warm bath.

Tim's favorite shop in Italy for men's fashion is Boggi Milano, also on Via Cole di Rienzo. He brought home a charming wool tie and a great cologne. If you want classic Italian looks for men, this is the spot. If you're feeling fancy they had some dapper suits! Tim, as always, made a friend during his time at Boggi.

Back on the other side of the river near the Pantheon is the adorable and charming Bartolucci. This little shop is full of amazing woodwork pieces, including quite a few Pinocchio objects. It's fun for children and adults, and also a great spot to grab something special for loved ones at home. They have everything from keychains to clocks all crafted from wood into adorable and quirky characters. I always have trouble retracing my steps back here. It's on a small street near some of the big sights (Via dei Pastini, 98) and I seem to only be able to find it when I'm not looking for it. Please disregard my incredibly silly face in the photo above. I was trying to mimic the Pinocchio....

There are tons of street vendors in Rome, and it can be hard to determine what is good to buy from one and what is not. Stay away from the fake luxury goods, weird little trinkets (what is with the crystal squares with etchings of Roman monuments everywhere?), and by all means the underwear. I kid you not we passed multiple stands that were selling underwear on the street! Pashminas and scarves are popular finds, and you can always haggle with them for a good deal. There's a good stand outside of Bartolucci that always has a good deal on scarves. For edible goodies I recommend the stands at Campo Dei Fiori. Pick up some balsamic vinegar syrup while you are there. It's such a treat and super expensive in the US. There are also a handful of stands in the market that sell nice handmade jewelry and leather goods.

On Borgo Pio near the Vatican you can find some great discount souvenir shops, although most of them will stock religious goods only. There are some gorgeous rosaries, discounted traditional italian paper goods, and beautiful crosses.

We also encountered some amazing antique stores along the side streets near Piazza Navona. If only I could stuff some gilded Italian furniture into my suitcase to bring home...


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