Shopping In Rome
Shopping in Rome: Italy is known for it's bargains in leather goods, but there are also some unusual specialty items there that you can't get at home
The shop windows of Rome will almost certainly compete with the antiquities for your attention. When it comes to mementos, this is one place where you can forget about the standard vacation fare and take home something really worthwhile. The area around the Piazza di Spagna (Spagna subway stop) tends to be the shopping mecca for tourists; most shopkeepers here speak at least some English. Riding the subway out to the Colli Albani stop, however, is well worth the trip. This is a shopping district frequented mainly by native Romans, so brush up on a few key Italian phrases before venturing out. Wherever you shop, these are the things you should plan on bringing home:
Shoes. There is a shoestore or two on every block in Rome and it doesn’t take long to notice just how important shoes are to Italian culture – you won’t see commuters wearing Reebox here. Bring as few pairs of shoes with you to Rome and stock up during the visit – you can easily buy gorgeous leather footware here for $20 to $50.
Gloves. There are several shops that sell nothing but gloves in the shopping district around the Piazza di Spagna. Leather gloves of all colors, all designs – lined in cashmere or silk – retail from $20 to $60. These make great Christmas gifts.
Linens. If you’re addicted to beautiful sheets or table linens, you will not want to leave Rome without some. Look for sheets with beautiful embroidered hems, unlike any you will find at home. Unfortunately, fitted bottom sheets are not the European standard (you can always pair up embroidered sheets w/ a plain white fitted sheet back in the States).
Gift wrap. Stationery stores here sell fanciful and innovative gift boxes that fold flat for packing, so stock up. You’ll be enchanted with the selection – there are boxes shaped like miniature trunks, handbags, pyramids, and more. Hallmark doesn’t make these, and your gift recipients will gush over the unique touch.
Paperclips. Yes, leave it to the wonders of Italian design. You will want to pick up a few boxes of these off-beat, round paperclips to use at home and give away for novelty gifts.
Sunglasses. Another area where the stylish Italians reign. Fun, funky, fashionable sunglasses that are much more affordable than the designer names at home.
Jewelry. In particular, brooches, pendants, and bracelets that feature the classic glass mosaic style known as ‘millefleur.’ Many of these are inexpensive and they are fun to wear. Also look for cameos, but ask questions – many cameos in the shops are imported, or have been cut by computers. If you’re stuck on having something authentic, ask for hand-carved designs that have been cut from native shells.
Coffee paraphernalia. If you fall in love with strong Italian coffee, take home a stovetop espresso maker. These are not only compact, functional items, but are beautiful examples of Italian design as well. There are also larger stovetop cappuccino makers that will froth milk as well as brew espresso.