One of the fun things about shopping in Rome is the variety of great re-sell boutiques. If you enjoy snooping around second-hand stores you are in for a treat because there is a wide range and something for every budget. Besides saving loads of cash, think of it as recycling and doing your bit for the environment.
Starting with the broadest assortment of merchandise, Mercatino is a juicy find. Founded in 1995, this re-sell franchise has 170 locations in Italy, including seven in Lazio and three in Rome. Its website at www.mercatinousato.com is in Italian only, but even with limited Italian language skills the stores addresses are easy to locate. The store at Via M. Camperio 25 near the Ostiense air terminal has quite an interesting array of merchandise. From baby beds to walking sticks, records to musical instruments, bicycles to household appliances, a childs desk with chair to what looked like an adults desk (but in reality was a pull-out bed), you will be entertained if not astounded. Used washing machines can be had for 60-100, and a dinette set with four chairs was only 50. Need your own personal tanning bed? You can take one home for 250. This company has an ecological mission statement posted on its website. To sum it up, Mercatino promotes the habit of recycling to safeguard the environment. In fact, on 28 and 29 September the company is hosting events in its stores to encourage people of all ages to recycle. Even if you are not in the market to buy, you can also sell your unneeded belongings here.
D.A. Dress Agency at Via del Vantaggio 1/b near Piazza del Popolo specialises in upscale designer clothing from Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, Prada and many others. A like-new, Georgio Armani trouser suit was priced at only 120. The owner, Francesca, says she accepts only gently-worn merchandise from well-to-do Roman women. She also has a nice selection of scarves, handbags, belts and shoes. A fuchsia-coloured snakeskin shoulder bag by Ferragamo was tagged at 120. This is about a fourth of what you would expect to pay for a brand new handbag at the Ferragamo store on Via Condotti.
The retail prices for new Levi jeans in Italy can almost justify a trip to the United States. Jeans Shop at Via del Boschetto 14 has a very large used selection with zip-fronts running at 35 and button-fly styles at 45. The prices for denim jackets vary, but all are under 100. Down the street and around the corner on the way to the Cavour metro stop is Le Vesti di Messalina at Via Leonina 24. The shops business card promises lusato americano. White peasant tops with colourful embroidery are only 8 and there are stacks of jeans at various low prices.
To prepare for the rainy months, several shops offer Burberry trench coats. Men and women can be outfitted in the vicinity of Piazza Navona at Omero & Cecilia at Via del Governo Vecchio 110 and at abiti usati on the same street, at number 35, for 52-77. Leather coats, long and short, can be purchased for 60-77 and leather trousers are 50. Suede coats are somewhat less expensive at 45. While youre in the neighbourhood, check out Cinzia, at number 45, for tank dresses from 10 and mod-patterned shirts at 12. Keep your wits about you on Via del Governo Vecchio as the funky new designer shops specialising in looks from the 1970s and 1980s are easy to confuse with the real 1970s and 1980s merchandise being sold next door. Sometimes the prices are the only way to tell the difference.
Pulp, Freak & Chic at Via del Boschetto 140 adds a bit of a different slant to typical retro looks. The owner, Fabrizio Polanscai, modifies used items to give them a new edge. For example, he embellished a pair of womens jeans with touches of camouflage fabric. Other items have had tulle and glitter added for style points. Polanscai also designs ultramodern jewellery and clothing, which is sold here as well. Among the shops cute funky 1970s era dresses and denim jackets are lamps from the same period priced from 50-120 and a clock with a bright orange face that would have been at home on the set of the Partridge Family TV series. The mod 1960s phone used for business is grass-green. Polanscai changes the look of his shop every year. This month he is planning to redecorate the shop in orange, fuchsia and red.
This is only a tiny sampling of the many delightful re-sell shops to be discovered in Rome. Two Roman friends insisted that any article on bargain shopping in Rome must also include the Porta Portese outdoor market located at Via Portuense and Via Ippolito Nievo in Trastevere. The market, which is only open on Sundays, offers a large selection of both new and used items. Here, the savvy shopper can stock up on electronics, jewellery, clothing, shoes and many more good buys.
Mercatino: Via M. Camperio 25, tel. 065748288; Via dei Levii 63-65, tel. 0676967648; Via Casilina 925/c, tel. 062303865; www.mercatinousato.com. D. A. Dress Agency: Via del Vantaggio 1/b, tel. 063210898. Jeans Shop: Via del Boschetto 14, tel. 064870726. Le Vesti di Messalina: Via Leonina 24, tel. 064881114. Omero & Cecilia Vestiti Vecchi: Via del Governo Vecchio 110, tel. 066833506. abiti usati: Via del Governo Vecchio 35, tel. 068307105. Cinzia: Via del Governo Vecchio 45, no tel. Pulp, Freak & Chic: Via del Boschetto 140, tel. 349/6531465, 347/4753815. Porta Portese outdoor market: Via Portuense and Via Ippolito Nievo, Sun 06.30-14.00.