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Shopping in Rome: When is the right time to do it?

9th Jan 2015

It’s that time of year to cop some swag in Italy, to finally be alla moda, because who doesn’t envy Italian steez? See, twice a year, the Italian government regulates nationwide sales, or saldi in italian, in order to give a little push to an economy that we all know needs a little push every once in a while. There are the summer sales in July and then there are the winter sales that start in January and go through to mid-February (NOW!). Saldi, pronounced Sal D, may sound like a Brooklyn pizza parlor to you, but to an Italian’s ear, it sounds like the cashmere sweater you’ve always dreamed of.

In Rome, for example, wherever you are in the city, you can find the its shopping districts at the tip of your finger and that finger is likely going to be pointing at a 50% off sign in the window of Benetton or Sisley. Think about it, perhaps you want some comfortable new leather kicks before you start walking around. Even if you’re at the Termini train station, you’ll manage to find something, be it inside the station itself or a five-minute walk away, on Via Nazionale.

Via Nazionale is like a slalom of big name discount clothes and shoes. Coming from Termini, it’s like your own downhill private tour of one of Rome’s favorite shopping district, your feet will carry you without you even noticing.

While Via Nazionale is easily accessible from the main train station, plus the plethora of buses that run up and down it, night and day, it is not the biggest, most famous shopping street in the city. Say you just finished your Villa Borghese tour and you are looking down at Piazza del Popolo in your hat that screams tourist in every language and your trusty XL Hawaiian shirt, you can do yourself a favor and take the stairs down to the main piazza, because that’s where the games begin.

Piazza del Popolo is famous for many reasons. Perhaps you’ll have seen on a Rome famous squares tour and learned its history–the home of one of the tallest Egyptian obelisks in the city, several gorgeous fountains, the beautiful church of Santa Maria del Popolo whose art collection ranges from Caravaggio to Raphael, plus the two “twin churches” (Santa Maria dei Miracoli & Santa Maria in Montesanto) that sit opposite of the Porta del Popolo, creating what is known as the “trident.” The trident is a trio a streets taking you out of the piazza, as if you’d ever want to leave. Unfortunately the famous street cafés where the likes of Pasolini and Morante used to frequent, don’t take part in the saldi. An espresso will cost you a euro at the bar and sadly, the coffee isn’t exactly on point there either, which is all the more reason to pick one of the teeth of the trident and find somewhere where there are sales.

If you are staring at the twin churches, the street all the way to your right, Via Ripetta, is beautiful and will take you to all the way to the Tiber, but it leaves something to be desired as far as shopping goes.

The path all the way to the left is Via Babuino, which leads you to the Spanish Steps and one of the most high-end shopping areas in the world. All the Gucci and Louie V you want, but our friends Louie and Salvatore Ferragamo aren’t always in our price range. For those of us who can’t swing the most expensive of designer names, choose the middle path, says Siddhartha. Via del Corso will lead you to liberation.

Via del Corso is the size equivalent of every shopping mall in New Jersey combined. But Italian-style. It literally stretches from the Aurelian walls all the way to Piazza Venezia. It’s stores galore. It’s copious. It’s capacious. It’s where I go when I feel ugly.

So, once you’ve finished your discovery of Rome, take a tour of Rome’s shopping districts while the sales still last. The old cliché – when in Rome…, wasn’t made up for nothing. Take yourself out and shop Italian-style. Take a lot at them. They seem to know what they’re doing.

~ by Anthony Mastroianni ~