It’s Official: These Are The 28 Best Shops In Rome
Written by Jaillan Yehia
Italy is of course famous for food, but its cities are also celebrated for iconic fashion, classic style and luxurious shopping.
So when I was asked to spend a weekend in Italy, meet the 28 best artisans in the Eternal City, and visit the best shops in Rome, it was an invitation I was unlikely to turn down.
Here’s what you need to know if your travels take you to Rome and you’d like to indulge in some serious shopping in some secret and special spots…
If I asked you to play a word association game with European countries, ‘Swiss’ would be followed by ‘precision’. ‘German’ by ‘engineering’ so what about Italian? It’s synonymous with style, surely.
And there are some lovely stories behind the newly released official list of the top 28 artisan boutiques offering the most stylish items in the city – basically the best shops in Rome.
Like that of Patrizia Fabri, who in 2003 took over the oldest millinery business in Rome – and, it appears, the whole of Italy – from the longstanding family owners having been one of their best customers.
The store was destined to become a museum but Patrizia tracked down the milliner, Sandro and reopened the business which continues to operate as an atmospheric shop.
On my visit I was like a kid in a sweet shop – well who wouldn’t want to try on every hat in sight? But the sweetest surprise came with the prices, as I was shocked to discover the affordability of these beautiful hand crafted hats.
Affordability isn’t what is primarily on offer at all 28 of the locations listed in the official guide to the best shops in Rome. Some of the craftsmen on the hand-selected list are uniquely skilled in work so specialised that if you have to ask, you probably can’t afford it, while others, particularly the jewellers, hand make everything from entry level items to bespoke precious pieces.
In fact part of the criteria for selection into the scheme is location; this list prioritises the best shops in Rome which are also close to Rome’s most important tourist attractions.
But an emphasis on high quality and tradition are key for approval too – each shop on the shortlist has to have a well established history – some date back multiple generations and over 100 years.
Like the totally charming (and utterly Italian) shirtmaker DAN, whose shop walls adorned with pictures of famous faces like Russell Crow wearing their lovingly made shirts.
No more than 10 shirts are hand crafted here per day – and of the several staff at DAN one has been an employee for 40 years, another for 15 years.
And when you meet the family at DAN you can understand why, plus it’s clear that the starting price of €190 buys you more than just a bespoke wardrobe item; you also get their undivided attention and exceptional customer service, which in the case of daughter Barbara is something I could easily be persuaded to part with money for, whether I ended up with a shirt at the end or not.
The innate sense of style dripping from Barbara is something many Italians seem to be born possessing and which so many visitors to Rome hope will rub off on them during their trip – and which I discovered a visit to one of the best shops in Rome can’t fail to deliver.
Each of these businesses underlines the contrast between the beauty of a hand crafted product and the mass market factory-produced products that we’ve all come to accept as part of our daily lives. Yes they are luxuries, but ones which are well worth having.
Though perhaps not everyone can stretch to the €2000 a pop it costs to avail oneself of the works of art which are Bocache & Salvucci shoes I’d encourage any shoe lovers passing the area to pop in – as a feast for the eyes the store itself definitely qualifies as one of the best shops in Rome.
These 100% hand crafted men’s shoes are favoured by the Saudi Royal family – each pair takes between 20 days to 30 days and 14 solid hours of man work to make – there are only around 6 places who still make shoes to this level and the craft takes 2 years of training to perfect.
It’s much the same story of intense study and insane attention to detail at all of the shops who have won a place – from the rainbow hued lamps of Paralumari to the varied work of the wide selection of jewellers in the guide.
In a homogenized and dehumanised world, something we are all willing to pay a little more for and which really makes a huge difference to our experience are businesses are welcoming and take an interest in you as a person beyond your custom – and with Roman artisans like Cristiana Perali you feel her warmth and her care for her craft.
‘Sometimes we are accustomed to seeing these things which are part and parcel of our heritage and we take them for granted’ one of the artisans comments and I realise that just as Brits take a sense of humour for granted and Canadians expect beautiful wide open spaces within easy reach, Romans, quite understandably living in a city this stunning, just expect good craftsmanship and beauty at every turn.
So if you’re Italian at heart and simply can’t be fobbed off with less, visit one of the best shops in Rome on your travels to source gorgeous jewellery, furniture and fashion.
To see the artisans in action check out the video below:
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