It is fair to say that Rome isn’t a cheap city and as a result, it probably isn’t a good idea to expect to find the bargain of the century here. Having said that, there are some bargains to be had if you know where to look, particularly when it comes to decorative items and leather goods. In addition many people happily spend time window shopping. It’s a great past time and it doesn’t cost a penny.
Similarly to other continental countries such as Spain and France, shops are open in the morning to early afternoon. They then close until later afternoon where they open again until the evening. So 9am until 1pm and 4pm until 8pm is pretty much the norm in this part of the world. Shops do not open on Sundays or public holidays, so you will need to keep an eye out for these. Commercial shopping centres are generally open all day Monday through to Saturday. It is also worth noting that most independently run shops tend to take a two week break sometime in August, so again keep an eye out for this also.
What to find and where
If you are looking for small independent fashion boutiques (of which there are many in the city) you should head for the area around the Piazza di Spagna. For designer stores such as Gucci, Prada, Fendi and Armani, then head for the Via Borgognona. If you are into quality antiques then there are some fairly prestigious ones around the Via Margutta, Via del Bambuino and the Via del Corso. All of these are within spitting distance of the Piazza di Spagna.
The city of Rome isn’t exactly short of markets and the largest and probably the most well-known is the Campo de Fiori. It’s the oldest market and here you will find fresh fish and seafood, fresh fruit and vegetables stacked high, and a great selection of spices and herbs. In addition you can also buy your kitchen utensils, a great selection of tablecloths and even toys for the kids. Porta Portese is the main flea market in the city and is open every Sunday from 6.30am -2pm. This is located in the Trastevere quarter of the city and does get pretty busy with people looking for a serious bargain. Haggling is a given! The Mercantino de Partigiani is a relatively small flea market held in a garage basement. However it specialises in memorabilia, furniture and clothing from the 1940’s to the 1950’s. This is open on the first Sunday of every month except August.
Second hand shops
The Italians love second hand clothing stores as old is most definitely cool. Stocks of old style jeans from the 60’s and 70’s can give you that retro look a la Paco Raban. You can also buy ‘dead stock’. These are clothes that are old in style, but have never been worn and these are very sought after. Some of the best second hand stores are Seconda Mano, Abiti Usadi and Mado, all of which get very busy.
So there you have it… the low down on shopping in Rome. Armed with a little knowledge and a street map, you can be sure to pick up some fantastic bargains, or that sought after designer label. Whatever you decide it’s all here in the eternal city.