Rome you will find countless souvenir shops and trinket stands filled with Rome “memorabilia”: I (heart) Rome tees, Colosseum key chains, fake statue busts of Augustus Caesar, snow-globes of St. Peter’s Basilica, Romulus and Remus magnets , “La Dolce Vita” coffee mugs, Italy photo calendars of every kind, and much, much more…well…junk. Yes, don’t get me wrong, it can sometimes be fun to get your kitschy fix, but let’s be clear that there is way more to shopping in Rome than this. And we are not just talking about Gucci, Bulgari, Salvatore Feragamo, Dolce & Gabbana, and other lavish Italian designers. There are many small, independent Roman shops out there that are hip, original, and uniquely modern in concept. If you’re a shopper and want something truly special to remember your trip, we recommend that you visit a few of the following shops and neighborhoods:
il museo del louvre – (Ghetto neighborhood, via della Reginella 26/28, open Monday-Saturday 10:30 am-1:30 pm/3 pm-7:30 pm) This shop is unlike any other you have ever seen. Located along a narrow alley in the historic Jewish ghetto district of Rome, il museo del louvre is a kind of antique bookstore, vintage photo archive, and art gallery all wrapped in one. The shop is divided into two storefronts located a few doors from each other. In one, you can browse cluttered bookcases and tables filled with old 1900s books, magazines, newspapers, periodicals, posters, and art catalogs, mostly in Italian, but also in French and English. In the other, you can flip through an incredibly interesting archive of original, anonymously-taken, vintage photos (around 30,000) as well as actual pieces by notable European photographers and artists.
gavAudan – (Trastevere neighborhood, via dei Vascellari 19, open Tuesday-Saturday 10 am-7:30 pm) Giovanna, the shops owner, has created a welcoming space filled with jewelry, clothing, bags, and other objects all artisanally produced by local, independent Italian designers. There is also a small “fashion lab” in the back, in which you can work with Giovanna to create your own custom garment.
Polvere di Tempo – (Trastevere neighborhood, via del Moro 59, open Monday-Saturday 10 am-1:30 pm/3:30 pm-8 pm) In this eclectic boutique whose name translates to “Dust of Time” one can find an interesting assortment of objects seemingly from another age in history. These unique items include hourglasses, sundials, watches, compasses, leather notebooks, globes, and lamps. They are all hand-produced using historical techniques.
Monti District/Mercato Monti – (Cavour Line B Metro Stop) Located not far from the Colosseum, Monti is a beautifully old district known today for its hip shops, bars, cafes, and restaurants. Walking the streets, you will surely find a storefront that sparks your interest, from a Roman clothing designer to an indie music shop to a local art gallery. Once a month, the neighborhood puts on a trendy indoor Sunday market, called Mercato Monti, that showcases many young, independent Italian designers, jewelry makers, and vintage dealers.
Myriam B. – (San Lorenzo neighborhood, via dei Volsci 75, open Monday afternoon-Saturday 11 am-1 pm/5 pm-8 pm) Myriam Bottazzi, originally from Milan, is an Italian jewelry and accessory designer whose avant garde creations successfully bring woman’s accessories to the level of modern art. Already accomplished in the world of fashion, Myriam runs a small boutique in the trendy neighborhood of San Lorenzo. Notably, she recently put together a series of pieces inspired by the Mexican surrealist painter, Frida Kahlo.
Claudio Sanò – (San Lorenzo neighborhood, largo degli Osci 67a, Monday-Saturday 10 am- 1 pm/4:30 pm-8 pm) Claudio Sanò is an Italian designer who makes exquisitely sculptured handbags and other leather accessories. His ingeniously creative bags, which include a fish shaped design and a briefcase pierced by a giant keyhole, are like nothing you have ever seen. Besides bags, you can pick up handmade wallets, belts, and bracelets made of impeccable leather and constructed to perfection.