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Many major shopping streets in Rome are lined with outposts of such European and Italian clothing store chains as Zara, Max & Co., Armani Exchange, Benetton, Sermoneta, Pinko and Accessorize. The high-end department store la Rinascente has several branches; you'll also spot many locations of two more moderately-priced department stores around town: Upim and Coin.
There are a number of popular shopping neighbourhoods in Rome; each has its own flavor and attractions.
Piazza di Spagna
Perhaps the most famous shopping district in Rome is the area surrounding Piazza di Spagna, at the base of the Spanish Steps. Tourists flock here to see the flagship stores of Italian designer lines like Prada, Gucci, Etro, Dolce & Gabbana, Miu Miu, Bottega Veneta, Missoni, Versace, Tod's . . . the list seems almost endless. You'll also find Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Wolford, Sephora, Jimmy Choo, Tiffany and other big global brands. Always wanted to see a Speedy bag in the flesh? This is the place to do it.
In addition to the flagships, try Sermoneta Gloves at number 61. Showroom downstairs to view. Take the steps upstairs for fitting.
The area's side streets offer less crowded sightseeing and a host of interesting shops. North of Piazza di Spagna, toward Piazza del Popolo, high-end dealers offer paintings, sculpture and antiques. Some notable addresses in the area:
C.U.C. I.N.A. -- Via Mario de Fiori, 65. Pots, pans, coffee-makers of every configuration, plates, accessories: This kitchenware store is jammed with useful, tasteful pieces that also make wonderful gifts.
The Lion Bookshop and Cafe -- Via dei Greci, 33/36 Large selection of English-language books in a peaceful, airy shop.
Anglo-American Book -- Via della Vite, 102 A huge number of volumes crammed into floor-to-ceiling shelves; online ordering, up-to-date stock.
Via Cola di Rienzo
Via Cola di Rienzo, the commercial heart of the Prati neighborhood just north of the Vatican, is a popular shopping destination for Romans. Its sidewalks are quite large, so many people and families take a stroll on this street, especially on weekends. There are many small and some spacious shops selling fashions, bags, shoes etc. Via Cola di Rienzo offers good quality clothes and accessories for reasonable (though not cheap) prices.
The largest Castroni store in Rome sells all kinds of packaged Italian specialities (and worldwide) foods such as black seppia pasta or chocolate with red pepper (peperoncino) . Quality Italian coffee and cakes can be taken at the bar. You can also buy coffee (ground or in beads) to take home with you.
Close to Castroni, there is a gourmet grocery store called Franchi, which shouldn't be missed if you intend to bring home some parmigiano cheese, dry porcini mushrooms or other specialties. They will vacuum pack products for you (ask for "sottovuoto" = vacuum pack). Franchi is truly a feast for the eye and the palate, and you can stop there for a quick lunch (you'll have to consume what you eat standing, because there are a few tables, but no chairs). Their food is very good, and you can also order delicious take out there.
In via Cola di Rienzo there's also a large department store, Coin, which has a wide variety of clothing and house wares. The basement is a large food supermarket (by Italian city centre standards). If you go in the morning there's a painted white indoor market which sells fresh fruit and vegetables. To go to via Cola di Rienzo, get the metro line A to Lepanto and walk down via Marcantonio Colonna (towards piazza Cavour) - the street you're looking for is right at the end of the road; the two streets make a very big intersection, you can't miss it. Castroni and Franchi are on the right side, Coin is further down on the street. There are many other stores along this street and a popular café further down on the left, called "Pellacchia" which sells various drinks and ice-creams: there is outdoor seating except in winter. You can also walk to via Cola di Rienzo by simply crossing the river from Piazza del Popolo.
Via del Corso is far more hectic and less family oriented. Loads of shops with fashions and plenty of small bars you can stand in and get a quick snack or drink (these bars are quite touristy, so you'll be better off in a bar somewhere else). Some shops in via del Corso are cheaper than in via Cola di Rienzo, but the quality is also not very good in some stores. Many shops in this street cater to younger crowd, and are great if you have teenagers traveling with you (or if you are a teenager!). Be extremely careful about those shops advertising genuine leather goods made in Italy! You might find out that they are styled in Italy but made in China or some other Asian country! Because of the traffic and the sheer amount of people on via del Corso, it's a less enjoyable shopping experience. It's a long road so don't stop everywhere! Half way up there, at piazza Colonna, is a posh looking complex of shops and pleasant spacious indoor cafe areas - the Galleria Colonna. The Cinema Nuovo Olimpia, located on a sidestreet (via in Lucina) of via del Corso, right behind the Parliament, shows films in their original language (VO, versione originale - "original version")Better shopping options, less crowded and a bit more stylish, can be found around via del Corso. Via del Babuino is a very elegant street, connecting Piazza del Popolo and Piazza di Spagna. There you can find designer shoes, clothes, jewelries, high end antique stores, a couple of book stores (including the Touring Club, where you can find great maps and books about Rome, Italy and more) and several famous brand boutiques, including Emporio Armani. Via dei Condotti and via Borgognona, parallel streets connecting via del Corso and Piazza di Spagna, have the big firms of Italian and international fashion from Prada to Valentino, Hermes, Trussardi, Moschino and more... even if you can't afford shopping there, don't miss a stroll in the area to admire the displays in the windows. More affordable yet elegant designer clothing and accessories can be found in other parallel streets, such as via Frattina, via della Croce, and via Vittoria. There's a bookstore (called the Anglo American Bookstore) that sells book in English in via della Vite. As you walk around the city center you'll find plenty of interesting stores also around the Pantheon and piazza San Lorenzo in Lucina area.
Another interesting area for shopping is around Campo de' Fiori and Piazza Navona. In via del Governo Vecchio, close to Piazza Navona, you'll find young/independent designer stores, so if you're looking for something a bit more original, that's where you want to go. Also - via dei Giubbonari, connecting piazza Campo de' Fiori and via Arenula, has some interesting stores for clothes, shoes and bags.
Via Nazionale, connecting piazza della Repubblica and largo Magnanapoli, has plenty of shops where you can shop on a budget and get more value for your money. Via del Tritone - between via del Corso and piazza Barberini, is similar to via Nazionale in terms of stores and prices.
If you're looking for art galleries and antique stores, then don't miss via Margutta, a parallel of via del Babuino: it's a beautiful quiet street, where Federico Fellini and Giulietta Masina used to live (Fellini loved to have his morning coffee at Caffè Canova, in piazza del Popolo - you'd see him sitting at a table, in winter, with a blue coat and his red scarf!).
It can be hard to find unique items - so many stores offer the exact same things. For ceramics, try De Sanctis 1890, on Via dei Pastini, about halfway between the Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon; they have old fashioned ceramics and also some great modern ceramics by local artists.
For outlet shopping, go to the Castel Romano Designer Outlet - here you will find all the designer brands and some good deals. There are about 90 stores such as Versace, Etro, D&G reduced by about 40% of the normal retail price. To get there by car take exit 26 off the SW section of the GRA (Raccordo ring road of Rome) it is about 25km out of the city centre South Rome - not too far from Fiumicino Airport which is also Rome South (20 min drive) otherwise there is another outlet called Valmontone, but this is really out of Rome (40km) south towards Naples on the motorway but also here there are great deals and loads of shops - maybe better for men's suits etc than the Castel Romano. Many hotels organise pick up from hotel and Outlet tours.
If you prefer staying within the city limits, there's a huge shopping centre in the EUR district called Euroma 2; to reach it, take the B line of the metro (direction: Laurentina) and get off at the Eur - Fermi stop. From there, you can take the #070, #700 or #709 buses and get off at the "Colombo/Pacifico" bus stop.