Rome enthrals with a fabulous portfolio of department stores, specialist shops, independent boutiques and artisan workshops – guaranteed to please the most hedonist of shoppers. 'Retro' is among the Roman shopping scene's many unique qualities, with jewel-like boutiques run by third-generation artisans, dusty picture-framing and basket-weaving workshops, historic department stores all oozing an impossibly chic, old-school glamour. Meander, explore backstreets, enjoy.
Big-name designer boutiques gleam in the grid of streets between Piazza di Spagna and Via del Corso in Tridente. All the great Italian and international names are here – Gucci, Salvatore Ferragamo, Armani, Valentino, Versace and Bulgari included – as well as many lesser-known designers, all selling highly fashionable clothes, shoes, accessories and dreams for men, women and children. The immaculately clad designer-fashion spine is Via dei Condotti, but plenty of haute-couture boutiques pepper Via Borgognona, Via della Borghese, Via della Vite and Via del Babuino too.
For chic, independent boutiques stocking pieces by smaller, lesser-known or young uprising designers, mooch the lengths of Via dell’Oca and Via della Penna near Piazza del Popolo.
Downsizing a euro or two, cheaper midrange clothes shops line Via Frattuni, Via Nazionale, Via del Corso, Via dei Giubbonari and Via Cola di Rienzo, with some enticing small boutiques set amid the chains.
One-off Boutiques & Vintage
Best for cutting-edge designer boutiques and vintage clothes is bohemian Via del Governo Vecchio, running from a small square just off Piazza Navona towards the river. Other places for one-off boutiques are Via del Pellegrino and around Campo de’ Fiori. Via del Boschetto, Via Urbana and Via dei Serpenti in the Monti area feature unique clothing boutiques, including a couple where you can get your clothes adjusted to fit, as well as jewellery makers. Monti's also a centre for vintage clothes shops, as well as a weekend vintage market, Mercato Monti Urban Market.
For antiques, Via dei Coronari, old-world Via Margutta, Via Giulia and Via dei Banchi Vecchi are the best places to look – quality is high, as are the prices.
Rome’s shopping scene has a surprising number of artists and artisans who create their goods on the spot in hidden workshops. There are several places in Tridente where you can get a bag, wallet or belt made to your specifications; in other shops you can commission lamps or embroidery.
Rome is deli heaven, of course. Also well worth a visit are Rome’s many wonderful food markets – there's usually one in every district – where you can buy cheese, salami and other delicious stuff; note there are now various farmers' markets as well at weekends.
Need to Know
- Most city-centre shops: 9am to 7.30pm (or 10am to 8pm) Monday to Saturday; some close Monday morning
- Smaller shops: 9am to 1pm and 3.30pm to 7.30pm (or 4pm to 8pm) Monday to Saturday
Winter sales run from early January to mid-February, and summer sales from July to early September.
Taxes & Refunds
Non-EU residents who spend over €154.94 on any one given day at shops with a 'Tax Free for Tourists' sticker (www.taxrefund.it) are entitled to a tax refund. Complete a form and get it stamped by customs as you leave Italy.