This magnificent city caters to history buffs, art lovers, foodies and fashionistas alike
My favourite city in Italy, there’s no place like Rome. It has it’s own special crazy Italian energy… youngsters on their scooters weave in and out of the traffic, the wonderful architecture, art, history, food and coffee and chaos! Rome has such an atmosphere she has been the set for over 70 films from “La Dolce Vita” to more recently, “Angels and Demons” and “Eat Pray Love”. Personally I think Julia Roberts (or Elizabeth Gilbert) could have stayed in Rome for all three, not just the Eat section of her travels and added shopping to her list!
Bella Roma has 3 main streets for the glamourous fashion lover. Via Condotti, Via Borgognona and Via Frattina. We begin our tour at the historic and magnificent Spanish Steps, where you can find the popular ‘Made in Italy’ labels, Dolce and Gabbana, Just Cavalli and Missoni. Our shopping streets are all in this area, and run from Via del Corso up towards Piazza di Spagna.
I made a map for you here: Rome Luxury Shopping Google Map
Via Condotti is the most elegant street in the world, practically all the most luxurious brands can be found here. Hermes, Cartier, Giorgio Armani, Valentino, Trussardi, Chanel, Gucci, and Bulgari at number 10. La Perla and Prada. The shop windows are works of art, with breathtaking fashion, shoes and jewellery on show, expect to be looked over by the sales staff who will decide whether or not you are worth their attention. Interestingly the street is named after conduits or channels which carried water down to the Roman Spa Baths of Agrippa. Sadly it’s the traffic now running up and down this street, so watch out for those speeding taxis, as you gaze about you with the biggest smile on your face.
Stop for a coffee at the ‘chic-intellectual’ Antico Cafe Greco – opened in 1760 – which was the meeting place for some of history’s colorful characters, among them Lord Byron, Keats, Hans Christian Andersen, Goethe, and Mendelssohn.
Via Borgognona is home to a chic and expensive shopping area. This is a Mecca for wealthy shoppers from around the world. The stores are truly beautiful, many with neoclassical facades. Fashion houses can be found here including the offices of Laura Biagiotti – the queen of cashmere – (her boutique nearby at Via Mario de’ Fiori 26), Visit Monetti at number 5 which offers great solutions for elegant men. Ermenegildo Zegna has one of its most important shop in via Borgognona 7, a top Italian label, known above all for the excellent quality of its handmade garments. If you are looking for excellent quality shoes go to Fratelli Rossetti.
Linking Via Borgognona to Via Frattina on Via Mario de’ Fiori look out for Gai Mattiolo, a young Roman designer of considerable talent.
Via Frattina. This street runs parallel to Via Condotti and part of it is completely pedestrianised, with no traffic allowed. There is a concentration of shops, most less expensive than the more exclusive shopping areas, and as a result, Via Frattina is always a busy and popular place to shop. Among the stores are Alviero Martini, at 116, who have lovely accessories and bags with the geographic map design popular with travel lovers, Pietro Brunelli has a designer maternity line for glamourous Mum’s to be at number 138 – and the always wonderful Max Mara at number 28.
Depending on which way you have taken these streets, when you find yourself back at the Piazza di Spagna region walk a short distance to the Piazza Mignanelli and see the Palazzo of fashion legend Valentino, look for the ‘V’ logo on the facade. Whilst you are here find a fabulous boutique that I always visit in this piazza, it’s hidden under the arch to the right of Valentino’s palazzo at Piazza Mignanelli 23, Emporio Blunauta, although there are other Blunauta shops in the streets already mentioned I always find some lovely bargains here in silk, velvet and cashmere.
If you are not yet tired and can extend your walk take a look at the Palazzo of Fendi in Largo Goldoni at the crossroads between Via Condotti and Via del Corso. Fendi occupies the entire 19th-century Palazzo Boncompagni Ludovisi, Fendi’s biggest store in the world.
Written by Sally Hamilton
Sally Hamilton lives between Italy from Britain and runs an online boutique specializing in exclusive, Italian-made clothing and accessories (www.selandarisitaliancollection.com ).
With a gift for discovering designer outlets and traditional artisans in hidden corners of the Italian countryside, Sally’s latest innovation is the Shopaholics Tour of Central Italy’s best-kept shopping secrets.