Leisure and shopping in Rome Italy.
Shopping in Rome Italy: Below you will find tips & advice straight from the mouth of a recovering shopaholic, my wife Sara, and I use the word "recovering" tentatively...
Do I need to mention that Italian designers are renowned for their exquisite and luxurious designs? Whether it be fashion, knitwear, leather merchandise (especially handbags and shoes), jewellery, ceramics, you name it, tradition and high standards are entrenched.
Rome is not a city of bargains, but it is true that prices and options are better at the source than overseas, plus most times Rome has better value than Milan, Florence and other cities in the North of Italy.
What should you look out for when shopping in Rome Italy?
For those one off artifacts and antiquities the little alleys of Campo de Fiori, Piazza Navona, Pantheon and Trevi Fountain area are exciting and usually reveal some unusual and unique items that you would probably not have encountered elsewhere.
Shopping in Rome Italy: Sales (saldi)
The best time for sales in Rome (i saldi) are between the 6th January and 28th February (unofficially until mid March) and then between mid July and mid September. Discounts usually range from 20% to 50%, and increase towards the end of the sales periods. Sometimes good discounts can also be found on the larger Italian sizes (shoes for example); Italians in general are smaller than the Northern Europeans and citizens of the ex-colonies.
Shopping in Rome Italy: Opening hours and etiquette
General opening hours in Rome are from 9Am to 1Pm and from 3.30Pm to 7:30Pm. However in the center, and especially the popular areas, it's common to find many shops open throughout the day and on Sundays as well.
Some of the smaller shops will be closed the first 2 or 3 weeks in August.
The general rule of thumb is that "la bella figura" (outward appearance) applies. The smarter you dress the better your service will be.
VAT Refunds: Remember non-EU citizens can obtain a VAT (IVA in Italy) refund which could be anywhere between 12% and 35 % (on luxury goods), however, if you would like to skip the lengthy bureaucratic process then a good option are shops displaying a "Euro Free Tax" sign. The shop will deduct the IVA then and there and handle the paperwork.
Shopping in Rome Italy: Formal shopping
Via del Corso, which bisects the 2 areas, and Via Condotti, which runs from the Spanish steps to Via del Corso, are the 2 biggest shopping streets. Via Condotti and the beginning of Via del Corso (Piazza del Popolo end) are also closed to normal traffic.
This is Italian big brand shopping at its best. Do expect to abuse the credit card a little, but hey, cowboys don't cry.
The image on the left shows the entrance to Via dei Condotti (standing with one's back to the Spanish Steps). Some of the biggest names in fashion and design are represented in this street.
Via del Babuino (which runs from the Spanish Steps to Piazza del Popolo) and many of the streets which run off it, are packed with antiquities, art shops and artisan showrooms. This street is ideal for the adventure shopper.
Via Cola di Rienzo (running from Piazza del Popolo across the Tiber (Tevere) river to Piazza Risorgimento) is also an option but perhaps only if you are staying around the Vatican area.
Shopping in Rome Italy: Unique items.
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