Some visitors to Italy consider the many antiques for sale the country's greatest treasure. But prices have risen to alarming levels as increasingly wealthy Europeans outbid one another in a frenzy. Any antiques dealer who risks the high rents of central Rome is acutely aware of valuations. So while you might find gorgeous pieces, you're not likely to find any bargains.
Beware of fakes, remember to insure anything you have shipped home, and for larger purchases -- anything more than 155€ at any one store -- keep your paperwork in order to obtain your tax refund.
Via dei Coronari is buried in a colorful section of the Campo Marzio. To find the street, turn left out of the north end of Piazza Navona and pass the excavated ruins of Domitian's Stadium -- it will be just ahead. There are more than 40 antiques stores in the next 4 blocks, offering inlaid secretaries, gilded consoles, vases, urns, chandeliers, marble pedestals, chaises, refectory tables -- you name it. Bring your pocket calculator and keep in mind that stores are frequently closed between 1 and 4pm.
Via del Babuino is another major street for antiques in Rome, with some of the most prestigious stores found here, including Alberto di Castro (our favorite store for prints), but many others as well.
A few minutes south of Piazza del Popolo, via Laurina lies midway between via del Corso and via del Babuino. It is filled with beautiful stores where you can find anything from an antique print to a 17th-century chandelier.
Certain stores that can't move their merchandise at any price often consign their unwanted goods to discounters. In Italy, the original labels are usually still inside the garment, and you'll find some very chic labels strewn in with mounds of more generic garments. Know in advance that these pieces couldn't be sold at higher prices in more glamorous shops; and some garments are the wrong size, are the wrong look, or have a stylistic mistake. If you're willing to sift through a lot, you might find a gem.
Since the days when the ancient Romans imported amethysts and pearls from the distant borders of their empire, and the great trading ships of Venice and Genoa carried rubies and sapphires from Asia, Italians have collected jewelry.
Italian leather is among the very best in the world and, at its best, can attain butter-soft textures more pliable than cloth. You'll find hundreds of leather stores in Rome, many of them excellent.
Piles of fresh vegetables arranged above ancient pavements in the streaming Italian sunshine -- well, what visitor can resist? We've given a rundown on the Roman markets known for fresh produce, uninhibited merchants, and long-running traditions.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.