What to buy in Rome, Italy
Main shopping areas include via del Corso, via Condotti (plus the surrounding streets) and via Cola di Rienzo; the finest designer stores are around via Condotti, whilst via del Corso has more affordable clothing. The surroundings of via del Tritone, piazza Campo de’ Fiori and the Pantheon are the places to go for cheaper items. UPIM is a good shop for cheap clothing of workable quality. Some brands (like Miss Sixty and Furla) are excellent, some are not as good – be sure to feel garments and try them on. There are also great quality shoes and leather bags at prices that compare well with the UK and US. Note that summer sales in many stores begin around 15 July and that Rome has New Year sales, too – they usually take place during the second week of January.
As mentioned above, via Condotti is Rome’s top haute couture fashion street (equivalent of Fifth Avenue in New York City, via Montenapoleone in Milan or Bond Street in London). Here, you can find big brand names such as Gucci, Armani, Dior, Valentino and Hermes, and several other high-class shops. However, the streets around the via Condotti, such as via Frattina, via del Babuino, via Borgognona and the piazza di Spagna also offer some excellent high fashion boutiques, including Roberto Cavalli, Dolce & Gabbana, Versace, Prada and Givenchy (and several others). So once in the city, the big boutique names aren’t absent. In these luxurious streets, however, you needn’t only do clothing shopping – there are some really good and funky jewelry (e.g. Bulgari, Cartier, Tiffany’s & Co.), pens and relative accessories (i.e. Mont Blanc) and artsy stores peppered here and there in these streets.
If you want to spend a day in a large shopping centre, there’s the Euroma2 with about 230 shops (mainly clothes and accessories) and restaurants, to be found near the EUR district. In addition to many shops and food, the conditioned air and free toilets may be a welcome relief if you are in Rome during mid-summer.
Cinecittà Due is located in via Tuscolana. You can combine a stroll in this shopping centre after a visit to the Cinecittà studios, one Metro stop away.
La Rinascente, Rome’s first department store, having been opened in 1887, is also a good retail department store, selling fashion, design, house ware and beauty products.
There are lots of fake plastic designer bags and sunglasses sold at the side of the road. Be aware, buying fake products is illegal in Italy; fines of up to €1000 have been reported. If you are happy to take the risk, make sure you haggle – unsuspecting tourists pay up to €60 for them.
If you want to buy souvenirs or gifts, a museum would be the worst choice since there are many stalls along the streets of touristic areas that offer reasonable prices. It is likely that the same item in the gift shop of any museum will cost much more.
Castel Romano, near Rome, along the Pontina highway. A very large factory outlet with more than 100 branded shops. A car is needed to reach the place but a 30% discount in a designer shop is worth the 20km trip for some.
A little further away from Rome than Castel Romano, you can find Valmontone outlet on the motorway towards Naples, about 50km from Rome. Valmontone itself is a delightful little town some 30 minutes away from Rome which can be reached by train.
The one at Porta Portese (located near the Roma Trastevere train station) is the biggest in city, and takes place every Sunday from 7:00 AM to 2:00 PM circa. Said market occupies two thoroughfares – via Portuense and via Ettore Rolli – but the stalls in the main drag are usually full of junk: better look in the side streets.
Another market is located at via Sannio, near St. John Lateran: there you can find lots of clothes and shoes. The market is open six days a week, Monday to Saturday, 07:00-13:00 (but some Saturdays the stalls stay open till 17:00).
The one at via Leonina, in the ward of Monti, sells mainly clothing items and takes place (almost) every week-end 10:00-20:00. Many young or aspiring stylists choose to sell their creations there.
A market whose sellers take themselves seriously – which is also the only one where you have to buy a ticket in order to get in – is the one taking place every Sunday at piazzale della Marina, near villa Borghese, from 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM.
Every first and second Sunday of the month a vibrant thrift sale takes place near ponte Milvio (more precisely, in and around via Capoprati) from 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM.
There’s yet another flea fair taking place every third Sunday of the month (c. 09:00-19:00) in viale Maresciallo Pilsudski, near villa Glori – a public park in the upscale Parioli district north of villa Borghese.
The one at Porta Pia, in the Nomentano district, is located at the intersection between via Nomentana and Corso d’Italia. Every second Sunday of the month, 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM.
Piazzale delle Belle Arti is home to an interesting tag sale every fourth Sunday of the month from 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM.
Mercatino is a chain of second-hand shops scattered throughout Rome, mainly in the residential neighborhoods outside the city centre. And no, you can’t haggle in there (items have a price tag).
Note: always remember that flea fairs are the only places in Italy where haggling is allowed (to a certain degree) – you cannot, for example, neither negotiate the price of any kind of food nor haggle for an item that has a price tag on it! Also, the market at Porta Portese is visited by lots and lots (and lots, and lots, and lots…) of people every week and the main drag can indeed feel oppressive; if you’re claustrophobic, you should not go there and if you do, limit your visit to the side streets or the area around piazza Ippolito Nievo which is spacious enough. Needless to say, the legions of people congregating there every Sunday makes it an ideal target for pickpockets so keep an eye on your belongings.