Spending a vacation in Rome on a low budget must surely have its inner difficulties, in particular due to the fact the capital of Italy allures visitors with uncountable temptations in terms of shopping opportunities. It’s true a tourist tool such as the Roma Pass can help visitors keep to their vacation budget, but the advantages of holding a document of this kind can only go that far. To actually experience the genuine thrill of shopping in Rome is to benefit from generous resources though, if truth be told, sometimes window shopping, occasionally seasoned with the thrill of purchasing a pleasant souvenir or gift, can be just as rewarding.
Rome caters for all sorts of tourists: from fashion victims to souvenir seekers, from adults to the little ones, from antiques aficionados to refined gourmets. The city is the perfect embodiment of a shopper’s dream, being crammed with stylish boutiques and grand glitzy fashion stores, tens of colorful picturesque markets and richly supplied antique shops, bookshops and toy stores. There are, however, streets and piazzas in Rome where shopping is at its best, giving tourists the opportunity to sample the peaks of the selling industry in a rewarding and timesaving manner.
Via Borgognona is the hub of shopping for the rich. The street is dotted with shops which sell products out of the reach of the common travelers: it’s only the indecently wealthy, so to speak, who can afford to shop on Via Borgognona. The street is also a pleasant site for sightseeing: most of the shops have maintained the old neoclassical and baroque facades of the buildings which host them. If not for the pleasure of shopping, at least for the pleasure of admiring the buildings should the budget travelers stroll along Via Borgognona while in Rome. On top of that, Via Borgognona neighbors on Piazza di Spagna (which is, it too, replete with things to see and to do) and on yet another glitzy shopping thoroughfare: Via Condotti.
Roughly speaking, there is no difference between the shopping profiles of Via Condotti and Via Borgognona. This thoroughfare caters just as finely for the wealthy visitors of Rome, keeping away the common tourist whose resources don’t match their shopping ambitions. Starting, just like Via Borgognona, from Piazza di Spagna, it is a place were budget travelers can lose themselves in window shopping: there’s a lot to see here, though, architecturally speaking, the site is less rewarding, but just as spectacular by its array of shopping opportunities.
Via Sistina is, on the other hand, more accessible to the less endowed, from a financial point of view, tourist. This street begins, it too, from Piazza di Spagna, from the Spanish Steps, stretching all the way to Piazza Barberini (where Fontana del Tritone is located), which is a pleasant sightseeing sight ending an even more pleasant shopping spree on Via Sistina. The street is lined with small stylish boutiques, and it is also less crowded than other shopping streets.
Via dei Coronari is ideal to explore by seekers of rare antiques. The street begins at the north end of the monumental Piazza Navona (notable for its three splendid fountains, namely, Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi, Fontana del Moro and Fontana del Nettuno), stretching on Campo Marzio. It is a genuine Mecca of antiques aficionados, being lined with some 40 stores which sell a wide range of items, from chandeliers and vases to furniture and marble pedestals.
Via del Babuino is yet another excellent choice for tourists who want to shop for antiques. Here and there, the street is dotted with designers’ outlets, which is why, while browsing through the generous and splendid offers of the antiques shop owners, tourists can also consider exploring that certain je ne sais quoi characteristic of shopping for fashion in Rome. What is also worth noting is the prestigious Alberto di Castro, which sells precious and rare prints, is also located on Via del Babuino, a fact to be kept in mind by serious antiques aficionados.
Via del Corso is a much more down to earth venue for shopping, as far as the prices are concerned. The street caters chiefly for the young, being doted with shops which sell sportswear, jeans, casual outfits and the like. Antiques stores and shops selling housewares can also be spotted here and there. Nonetheless, the stores clustered in Piazza del Popolo (notable, amongst others, for its classy cafes) tend to be the most popular with customers.
Another thoroughfare ideal for shopping for fashion, jewelry, shoes and accessories is Via Cola di Renzo. This street stretches between Piazza Risorgimento and the Tiber River, running close to the Vatican. What is definitely noteworthy about the stores which line this street is they sell a wide range of items (clothing and accessories aside, they also sell culinary delights, books) at affordable prices. The popularity of this shopping backbone of Rome is proven, for instance, by the abundant pedestrian and motorized traffic in the area.
Via Frattina is yet another excellent choice for keen shoppers who want to explore Rome to the full extent of its shopping opportunities. The street does not necessarily cater for budget travelers, but prices are notably lower than the ones one has to pay in order to purchase goods from Via Condotti, for instance, which runs parallel to Via Frattina. An important feature of Via Frattina is wide parts of it are closed to the motorized traffic, being turned into pedestrian areas, which enhances its popularity with tourists who want to shop in a careless easygoing way.
The Capo de Fiori Market is one of the oldest markets in Rome. This market if full of character, which is why it often appears in photographs which try to render the image of a typical Roman market. Prices, on the one hand, tend to be pretty high, but, on the other hand, they only reflect the quality of the products on sale. The stall here are said to sell the best bread and freshly caught fish, but visitors can also shop for flowers, pork delicacies, fruits and vegetables, housewares and even toys.
The Porta Portese Market is deemed the largest flea market in Rome, not to mention it is also one of the oldest in the capital. On top of that, it is one of the few held on Sundays, which is of no little importance for people who want to flavor their weekends with the thrill of an occasional shopping spree.
The merchandise sold here is quite miscellaneous, from antiques (genuine or fakes, for that matter) and furniture to clothing, books and paintings. The curious can buy both new and second hand items, and they can also bargain (though the sellers here are famed for their stubbornness of keeping to the initial price). Being a crowded venue, the Porta Portese Market is a favorite operation site for pickpockets, which is why visitors (in particular, tourists) are advised to keep an eye on their valuables.
Underground is an excellent site to explore in particular by antiques enthusiasts. This is a smaller flea market set up between Via Veneto and Via Sistina, filling an entire car park. Potential buyers can find here everything they can imagine, since the merchandise is quite miscellaneous. But the true character of this picturesque flea market lies in the fact that, at least as far as the antiques businesses are concerned, the items showcased and sold here belong to keen collectors, private individuals who want to share their wealth of valuables with the public.