Looking for gifts from Italy while you’re in Rome? I’ve got you covered (just in time for the holidays)!
Here are some of my favorite shops in Rome for picking up the perfect present (maybe even for yourself…). Not only do these stores sell great gifts, but they’re all one-of-a-kind, too, unlike that J. Crew sweater that tens of thousands of people will unwrap on Christmas! Consider it just another perk of buying from artisanal and independent shops.
I paid a visit a week ago, and among the items I found were fantastically handpainted booties, elegant-looking jewelry made from (surprise!) medical tubing, and an ermine shrug that’s actually a stuffed animal ermine. Oh, and this handcrafted shawl/mini-jacket, which I couldn’t afford but could, at least, model for a moment. (Prices tend to be on the higher side—think €200 for a shrug like the one I’m wearing—but since the items are all handmade by some of Italy’s hippest designers and artists, it makes sense).
This shop is seriously cool—and a must-see if you’re looking for a gift for the fashionista in your life, someone who doesn’t shy away from trends or from the finer things in life. That’s because Le Talpe is a combined art gallery and boutique, featuring handmade pieces by European artists and designers; everything in the shop changes out every month.
Not your grandma’s porcelain! In a small workshop around the corner from Campo dei Fiori, artisan Marina Graziana handpaints everything porcelain (think vases, plates, cups, and more) with modern, on-trend designs. A vase or set of cups is the perfect gift for any stylish homemaker—and the prices, starting at €15 euros for a small saucer or ashtray, aren’t bad.
This glass workshop is my favorite in Rome: The little hole-in-the-wall shop in the heart of Monti, near the forum and Colosseum, sells the work of artisan Anna Preziosi (who’s usually in there herself, making designs and cutting glass for her next piece!).
The glass vases, bowls, plates, and ashtrays are gorgeous, contemporary designs, and the prices are excellent: For as little as €15, you can scoop up an ashtray or small dish, while you’re looking at €75 and up for a large, decorative plate.
Want to get your loved one a piece of handmade jewelry, made by a Rome jeweller… that’s hip, modern, and won’t break the bank? Head to Ashanti Galleria. In the 12 years that jeweller Raffaelle Cinzio has been running this jewelry-shop-cum-art-space, he’s received serious accolades, like a mark of excellence for artisanship from the region of Lazio.
Not that it’s any surprise: Raffaelle’s jewelry, handcrafted from silver, bronze, and gold in his workspace in the back of the gallery, manages to be both exquisite and funky, much of it with a cool, androgynous tone. Contemporary paintings by artists, most of them Italian, hang on the walls.
Raffaelle’s jewelry starts at €45 a pop, and the works of art at €100.
Ashanti Galleria is located at Via del Boschetto 117, in the heart of Monti. Tel: +39 064884203.
Since 1949, this workshop, hidden near the Spanish Steps, has been turning out handcrafted leather wallets, purses, luggage and jackets—the perfect gift for someone back home. There are only a few items on‐the-rack, so what Armando Rioda shines in is the custom-made item. For just €50, you can pick the leather, color and style of, say, a leather passport holder, and have it monogrammed, too (gift idea! gift idea!). Purses start at €100, which is still a steal for having a handmade leather bag.
Armando Rioda is located at Via Belsiana 90, on the 2nd floor inside the palazzo. It’s open from 9am-1pm and 4pm-8pm. Call +39 0669924406 for more. April 2015 update: They’ve just moved! They’re now at Via delle Carrozze, number 16. Call +39 066786923 for more.
I stumbled on this “curiosity shop” just the other day, and I couldn’t help thinking what a great stop it would be for finding a one-of-a-kind gift for that impossible-to-buy-for person (especially if that person has a thing for “the good old days”!
The space is crammed with every antique and memento imaginable, from vintage ceramic statues to antique toy soldiers to war helmets to old film posters. You can see more of what’s on offer at the Eclectica shop online.
Eclectica is located at Via in Aquiro 70, next to Piazza Montecitorio, right near the Pantheon. For more, call +39 066784228.
Okay, yes. Buying shoes for someone else can be tricky. But what could be more Italian than a pair of handmade suede or leather shoes? And second of all, because these shoes are suede and leather, they tend to stretch and conform to your foot—so the fit doesn’t necessarily have to be 100% perfect for someone to find them comfortable.
So if you’ve got a shoe-loving female in your life, check out Barrila Boutique. This little shop between Piazza del Popolo and the Spanish Steps sells an array of women’s shoes in a rainbow of colors. And the prices are pretty good, from about €59 for a pair of suede ballet flats.
Oh, and the fruit pieces or bunches are so ridiculously realistic, you might want to warn your gift recipient before they try to bite off a piece.Looking for the perfect gift for someone who loves ancient Roman sculptures, or the Vatican’s opulence—and would want a piece in their own home? Head to Maurizio Grossi, on Via Margutta. Since 1994, this art gallery and shop has sold marble sculptures (including ancient statue reproductions), inlaid tables, mosaics, and more. Everything is made here in Italy, and the mosaics are created using ancient techniques.
Le Tre Ghinee
In Rome, my favorite ceramics workshop is also chock-full of potential gifts—plates, vases, and other goodies, all handcrafted from ceramics by artisan Susy Pugliese, that would look gorgeous on any stylish homebody’s fireplace mantle or bookshelf. (Or table!).
Le Tre Ghinee is located at Via del Pellegrino 90, near Campo dei Fiori; call +39 066872739 for more information.
If you liked this post, you’ll love The Revealed Rome Handbook: Tips and Tricks for Exploring the Eternal City, available for purchase on Amazon or through my site here! I’m also free for one-on-one consulting sessions to help plan your Italy trip.