Shopping in Rome: Piazza di Spagna
Shops like Armani, Versace, Bulgari, and so on known around the world are listed but more description is given to shops that are unusual, or have things you would not find elsewhere. The classic, high-concentration, high-rent shopping area fans out from the splendid landmark Piazza di Spagna, with its wide steps leading from the church of Trinita’ del Monti, to a grid of well-known streets lined with boutiques bearing chic names. Here’s a list of the streets that flank Piazza di Spagna with the names of the best-known shops to be found.
PIAZZA DI SPAGNA
With your back to the magnificent steps, the first building on the left, is the Keats-Shelly house which is worth a visit for those with a literary bent. Further left takes you to the landmark American Express, which has been a home-away-from-home to generations of expatriates and travelers.
- BLUNAUTA, #35, (formerly called Balloon, inside the courtyard), one of a chain of shops owned by the Greco family of nine brothers and sisters. Classic Italian design with a bit of flair for men and women are made in China, many in silk. pure cotton, or cashmere with very reasonable prices. Silk men and women’s pajamas are their trademark. You can coordinate your wardrode from nightgowns to your workplace outfit including beautiful warm jackets made of quilted washed silk. T-Shirts in all colours and varieties for the summer and pareo-style silk skirts. Sizes tend to be small. Most of the salesgirls speak English.
- KRIZIA, #87, this doyenne of Italian fashion has for over 40 years offered some of the most origianal and beautifully-made ready-to-wear clothes in Italy. Long before Giorgio Armani revolutionized the jacket Krizia was selling trim suits with the most beautifully shaped shoulders, each one carefully mounted and pressed by hand in her factory. Special touches of embroidery, for an elegant woman who wants to stand out from the crowd.
- MISSONI, #78, is enjoying a revival, especially among young women who started wearing their mother’s old striped and flame-stitched knits and went on to the current version. For men a colorful Missoni cardigan is a wonderful compromise to the jacket for home and informal wear.
- BENETTON, #94-95 – There are several Benetton stores in Rome, but Luciano Benetton once advised me that this has the best selection of stock and service.
- FRETTE, #11, a classic Italian name in luxury linens, they also have stores in Paris, London, New York, and Beverly Hills. Sheets, towels, bedspreads, bathrobes, accessories for bed and bath, beautiful embroideries, made-to-measure, and initials on anything you want.
- GENNY, #27, is the leading brand of womens wear from the Girombelli Group in Ancona. The clothes are for the career woman who shuns the grey pinstripe suit, she means business but she doesn’t want to look like a man. Sophisticated evening wear, too.
- D&G, #82/83, is the younger line from Dolce and Gabbana, the couple that makes those elegant thrift-shop outfits you see on Madonna and Isabella Rossellini. Only they could put a fake-fur collar on a flower-print coat and call it chic.
VERTICAL STREETS THAT FAN OUT FROM PIAZZA DI SPAGNA
- Some of these names are so famous it seems pointless to describe them so we’ll just give the numbers: Gucci (# 8), Bulgari (#10), Prada, Valentino(# 12), Vuitton (# 15), Brioni (# 21), Swatch (# 33), Nazareno Gabrielli (# 36), Trussardi (#49), Fogal (#55, fancy stockings from Swtizerland), Benetton (#59), Ferragamo (# 66), Armani (# 77), La Perla (# 79, elegant high quality underwear), Cartier (#82), Celine (# ), Max & Co (Younger line of Max Mara) (# ), Max Mara(# ), Prada(# ),
- BARILLA’, # 29, Great selection of women’s shoes, sophisticated for day and evening as well as a less expensive line, Barilla` Boutique, which is sold in Via del Babuino.
- BATTISTONI, #60, Inside a charming courtyard you’ll find a traditional men’s store. (A shop for men and women is across the street) They dress a very refined Roman clientele of politicians, buisnessmen, movie directors and famous actors like Elizabeth Taylor, and are known for pampering their clients.
- ELEUTERI, # 69, Sig. Carlo Eleuteri has been searching the world for years for the treasures in period jewelry that he proudly displays in his shop, most of which date from the beginning of the last century, although he has a few pieces from the 16th and 17th centuries. He has a nice collection of old silver, including a superb baby rattle from Tiffany. Names include Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, “And even Bulgari, from across the street,” he says. Just perusing the shop window is an educational experience.
- REDWALL, #56, is a manufacturer with its own line but also makes handbags and leather accessories for Giorgio Armani, Romeo Gigli, and Franco Moschino among others. Definitely worth a visit at sale time!
- SADDLER’s UNION, # 26, For classic men and women’s made-to-measure leather moccasins, classic handbags and suitcases in aged leather.
VIA BORGOGNONA Blumarine, Ferre`(#6), Laura Biagiotti (#43), Moschino (#32a), Versace Men(#24/25)
- FENDI, #38, has finally finished the renovation of its main store. There is a vast collection of handbags including the must-have baguette, sacks, attache cases, suitcases, neckties, scarves, belts, shoes, and clothes. Fendi has another store near Fendissime on nearby Via Fontanella Borghese.
- ERMENEGILDO ZEGNA, # 7E, has taken over the premises occupied for years by Carlo Palazzi, a landmark name for mens clothing. Zegna is famous for his “High Performance” fabric, a crisp, feather-light wool made into suits that are wearable year-round. He also specializes in jackets, coats, sweaters, and scarves in the finest cashmere, also in super light weight.
- TANINO CRISCI, # 4/h. For a well-crafted jodphur boot or a low-heeled wing-tipped pump, the classic shoes of Tanino Crisci are tops. The more you wear these shoes the better they look. For men and women. Unfortunately they never go on sale. But you could always check out their factory outlet store
- FRATELLI ROSSETTI consistently produces an attractive and comfortable (especially the Flexa line) line of shoes for men and women, as well as coordinating handbags. (Also on Via del Babuino)
- DIEGO DELLA VALLE, # 45, Diego della Valle has combined a family tradition of shoemaking in the Le Marche region with savvy marketing, and has managed to put his trademark Tod’s shoes with the little plastic spheres on the bottoms of the soles on some of the most famous feet in the world including Princess Diana, Sharon Stone, Sarah Ferguson, and Luca di Montezemolo (president of Ferrari). His mocasins in a summer version with a soft sole and winter in patent leather with a thick sole and make his shoes a “must” for everyone from 0 to 100 years old!. They also carry the Hogan line which is a bit more sporty.
- FRANCO MARIA RICCI, 4d, is the Italian publisher that produces beautifully printed and bound books specializing in art and fashion. They have the full selection, and you can also subscribe to their magazine FMR.
- BYBLOS, #34/a, part of the Genny group, has a spirit of refined youth, with many careful details to make the clothes distinctive.
- LA CICOGNA, #138, has other branches in Rome, London, and Tokyo. Here you will find everything for the expectant mother, her baby, and children up to 14 years old. Grandparents won’t be able to resist, you’ll also find cradles, strollers, furniture, gadgets, and toys, all with that special Italian touch.
- MAX MARA, # 28, there’s another Max Mara on Via Condotti but I feel the one on Via Frattina has a bigger selection as well are friendlier salesgirls of whom my favorite is Annarita. Max Mara is the umbrella for a number of labels and is one of Italy’s biggest ready-to-wear manufacturers, their clothes are a combination of Calvin Klein and Giorgio Armani with some original touches. Prices are reasonable and the shop has everything from evening dresses to sweaters, coats, suits, blouses, and even some shoes and accessories. Definitely worth a visit, especially at sale time.
- OTTICA ROMANI, #39, has one of the largest assortments of frames and sunglasses you will find in Rome. Among the best-sellers are Armani, Web, Byblos, Lozza, Persol, Fendi, Gucci, and Genny, as well as the ultra-light titanium frames called Fly by Safilo. Perscription glasses prepared in 15 minutes if you don’t exceed + or – 4 diopters. For prescription sunglasses they need a day or two, depending on the lenses.
VIA DELLE CARROZZE