Along with ancient ruins, unforgettable views and fantastic food, one of the highlights of any trip to Rome is shopping for the perfect souvenir. Be it in the warm season or wintertime, the shops of the Italian capital never fail to lure in visitors. Here are some gift ideas, both to delight your friends and spoil yourself.
Italy’s reputation for wines stems from the great variety of colors and flavors that change, depending on the grapes’ birthplace. Near Rome lies Castelli Romani, an area popular for its beauty, production of excellent labels (widely available in the capital) and its selection of famous drinks from other Italian regions, such as Tuscany, Sardinia and Puglia. Most food shops have a wines and spirits section, but if you need expert advice, head to specialty stores such as Enoteca Buccone (19-20 Via di Ripetta), just beside Piazza del Popolo, or Enoteca Costantini (16 Piazza Cavour), in the Prati neighborhood. Both offer a wide choice of the country’s finest red wines, such as Nobile di Montepulciano, Brunello di Montalcino, Tignanello and Morellino di Scanzano.
If one of the first things that crosses your mind when you think of Italy is food, Rome won’t fail to deliver. And rest assured, any delicacy borrowed from the national gastronomy will be a much-appreciated gift. From balsamic vinegar (the best comes from the northern city of Modena) and truffle-based specialties (oil, sauces and flakes), to all kinds of cheese (the very local pecorino romano, northern Gorgonzola and Naples’ buffalo mozzarella), foodies will love to get lost in temptation. Find these delicious gifts at Volpetti (47 Via Marmorata), a gourmet store in the Testaccio area that will treat you with appetizing bites, and Roscioli (21 Via dei Giubbonari), which sells kits to make traditional Roman dishes such as cacio e pepe (cheese and pepper pasta) by yourself.
Chocolate lovers can’t resist filling their suitcase with popular goodies such as Baci Perugina (chocolate kisses, literally), a tender core of ground hazelnut with a whole hazelnut on top that’s covered in dark chocolate. Mouthwatering products by big names such as Venchi and Caffarel are available everywhere in the city, too. But if you are into artisan production, check out Dolce Idea (27 Via San Francesco a Ripa), in the Trastevere neighborhood, for an array of dark, white and praline chocolates, or La Bottega del Cioccolato (82 Via Leonina), in Monti, with the workshop right behind the store, where you will find treats in the shape of Rome’s main monuments and specialties depending on the season and festivities around the city.
Italy has a long tradition of hand-painted ceramics, and all regions boast their own pottery. Different styles and colors can make for a lovely gift, be it a saucer, large plate or cup. Find classic designs during your mandatory stop at Piazza Navona, where the bright-colored vases and glass art inside L’Artigianato will capture the attention of every home décor fan. If you’d rather go for a contemporary style, head to the Campo de’ Fiori area, where a lovely collection of independent artisans welcomes visitors from all over the world every day. You will adore Le Tre Ghinee (90 Via del Pellegrino), a small workshop where Susy Pugliese and Rosi Paulicelli create and sell their own classy ceramics and glass creations, and Picta Porcellane (11 Via dei Cappellari), where artist Marina Graziani paints porcelain tableware with modern designs, and crafts her own ceramic pieces.
If you are obsessed with the latest fine-jewelry trends, Rome has it all, from timeless pieces made with precious stones to glamorous ornaments in steel and crystal. Don’t miss Bulgari (10 Via dei Condotti), near Piazza di Spagna, or Stroili Oro (141 Via del Corso) for brands such as Morellato and Just Cavalli. For unusual or contemporary design, stop by Di San Giacomo Gioielli (10/11 Via di Tor Millina), behind Piazza Navona, where cobbling and goldsmith art beautifully blend. Here, you’ll not only find handmade necklaces, bracelets and earrings for sale, but also jewel-strewn, custom-made sandals.
Photos Courtesy of Di San Giacomo Gioielli and Angela Corrias