As the festive season looms, our thoughts are turning to Christmas shopping and the holidays.
Rome is perfect for an autumn break and to do some Christmas shopping – the weather is usually still mild – currently around 20°/12°, higher than the seasonal average of 17° – and the festive season has a less commercial feel to it. In between exploring the ancient sites such as the Forum and the Colosseum – both centrally and conveniently placed for Christmas shopping (thank you Caesar) – there is the bustling Via del Corso to conquer, with endless boutiques and historical sites such as Goethe’s House to escape to as a cultural retreat.
The Piazza di Spagna, Via Condotti and Via del Babuino are where the designer shops are concentrated, with Valentino, Pucci, Prada, Miu Miu and others all within walking distance. Along the Via del Babuino, you will also find reasonable shoe shops, leather shops and – hurrah! – discount outlets offering up to 70 per cent off clothes and accessories.
Another great shopping area is between the Via del Corso and Piazza Colonna, where a myriad of shopping lanes is home to more designer shops and streets full of independent shops selling everything from homewares and china to leather goods and cosmetics, with plenty of cafes and bars along the way to rest sore feet in.
The top items to buy in Rome are designer brands, cashmere, leather goods and even artworks – there are antique shops dotted around the city, artists selling on corners and more commercial souvenir artworks on the Piazza Navona, where independent artists gather to sell their wares.
The Campo dei Fiori is the place to head for presents for foodies – and don’t forget Babington’s tea rooms on the Piazza di Spagna (at the foot of the Spanish Steps), where packets and tins of specialist teas, Babington’s mugs and confectionery all make lovely presents.
There are many delicatessens dotted around Rome – as you might expect – so parmesan and other cheeses also make great presents. They are usually sealed so you can take them home easily.
Wines and liqueurs also make great Christmas presents and even a small bottle of Limoncello – which is made in different flavours – can make a pretty stocking filler. Also look out for packets of cachous as stocking fillers, all presented in pretty pastel fin de siecle packaging.
Rome is perfect for children’s presents – there are lots of clothes outlets selling children’s fashions, but also independent shops offering gorgeous baby clothes. Pinocchio is everywhere in Rome and stocking fillers for children should be no problem to find. There are also craft shops specialising in wooden toys for children – you may not be able to carry home a full size Pinocchio rocking horse, but Mastro Geppetto has also been busy making lots of smaller toys that will enchant and amuse tots and toddlers.
The atmosphere in Rome in autumn/Christmas is also unbeatable – often warm by day, the sun sets into a pink sky and then the bars and restaurants throw open their doors. In the evening, the main sites in the city are illuminated and there are usually bus tours of the sites at night – or the many churches often host concerts or opera performances.
The major venues in Rome also host classical and rock concerts, so there is plenty of entertainment to enjoy after a long day of Christmas shopping. And if you didn’t get your cake by the ocean, you can have cake by the fountain – Babington’s tea room is just a short step away from the Barcaccio Fountain in the Piazza di Spagna. You are so worth it.
Want to go to Rome right now? Download ROME ALONE at Kindle and set off for a mini weekend break from the comfort of your sofa, as Bee and Alzheimer’s expert Dr Neil McCarthy escape marital discord and head off to Rome from opposite ends of the country, not realising how near the edge they have come and what the Eternal City has in store for them.
Adult content, dark humour and themes which some readers may find upsetting.
Short-listed for the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook’s New Novel Centenary Award.