A guide to some of the most Christmas present-friendly shops in town, guaranteed to make you leave the premises with at least one parcel in your hand.
Perfume and cosmetics shops
Profumerie in Rome are ubiquitous, but if you are looking for something a little bit different, Bio & Beauty (Via del Governo Vecchio 94, tel. 066869903) stocks natural and organic ranges such as the much-revered German Dr Hauschka and Weleda products, and the wonderful Ahava range made from Dead Sea minerals. Not far away, Profumeria Al 179 (Corso Vittorio Emanuele II 179, tel. 066861376) is good for those harder-to-find cosmetics, such as the famed La Mer creams by a former NASA physicist, or scents by century-old French perfumers LArtisan Parfumeur and Diptyque. Old-style herbalists shop dating from 1870, Materozzoli (Piazza S. Lorenzo in Lucina 5, tel. 0668892686) sells high-quality lotions, perfumes and toiletries in a refined setting.
Food and wine
The oldest wine merchant in Rome, Trimani (Via Goito 20, tel. 064469661), stocks an excellent and large selection of Italian wines. Otherwise you might try Roscioli (Via dei Giubbonari 21, tel. 066875287), a shop-cum-restaurant that sells about 300 different cheeses, home-made pasta, hams and charcuterie from all over Italy, as well as shelf upon shelf of wine, olive oil and Christmas specialities, such as the chunky panforte cake filled with dried fruit. One of the food shops most full of character in Rome is across the river in Trastevere. Innocenzi (Via Natale del Grande 31, tel. 065812725) stocks regional foods and sweets from all over Italy, but also the staples for Indian, Thai, Japanese and Mexican cooking. Still in Trastevere, old-style patisserie Valzani (Via del Moro 37/a-b, tel. 065803792) is in dire need of a paint job and some decent lighting, but that is part of the charm. Come here for tasty chocolates, its renowned Sacher cake, spicy pangiallo and chewy torrone (nougat). Despite high prices Panella (Via Merulana 54, tel. 064872435) is always filled with people clamouring to get their hands on its mouth-watering and never-ending selection of breads, cakes and chocolates. At the moment its windows are filled with chestnut-themed dolci.
Despite there being a Furla on almost every street corner in Rome (the most central one is at Piazza di Spagna 22, for other addresses, see www.furla.it). The chain offers an affordable and well-finished range of leather bags and accessories in colours that cover the spectrum from sober to loud, from classic to trendy. In the same vein, Mandarina Duck (Via di Propaganda 1) makes functional bags with innovative and clean designs. Further afield in the university area of S. Lorenzo, leather artisan Claudio San creates and sews one-of-a-kind leather bags and accessories. Borse Sculture (Largo degli Osci 67/a, tel. 064469284) is his workshop and store featuring sculptural wares with feminine curves and shapes, and briefcases with a keyhole or mouth shape cut out of them.
In Ivano Langellas tiny atelier (Via di Ponte Sisto 73a) you will find his unique jewellery creations that feature lots of pearls, semi-precious stones, horn and chunky glistening silver. Otherwise, the centrally-located street Via dei Pettinari is filled with goldsmiths and jewellers selling new and second-hand pieces.
Designer objects and homeware
For three floors of kitchen and homeware by the biggest Italian designers check out Spazio Sette (Via dei Barbieri 7, tel. 066869747) located in a 17th-century frescoed palace of a former cardinal. The owners of Interno Rosso (Via del Pellegrino 15, tel. 066867457) hand-make their own paper lampshades in the most eccentric of shapes and colour combinations. D 3 (Piazza Mignanelli 24, tel. 066789054, and Via della Pace 38, tel. 066861218) as in D cubed is a haven of original and unusual finds from all over the world. From clever space-saving kitchen gadgets, to photo frames and crockery, through decorative gel shapes to stick-on windows and paper chandeliers to hang from your ceiling. Cookery enthusiasts should head to the exceedingly well-stocked C.u.c.i.n.a. (Via Mario de Fiori 65, tel. 0669940819) and Gusto (Piazza Augusto Imperatore 9, tel. 063236363) stores. The latter also sells kits to make wine and has a comprehensive cookery book section in English and Italian.
Christmasy objects and decorations
A shop for educational and attractive toys for children of all ages (and that includes adults) is La Citt del Sole (Via della Scrofa 65, tel. 066875404 and Via Buonarroti 6, tel. 06483561). The toys are divided according to age groups, and you wont even notice that there are no electronic toys or Barbies in sight. For fairy lights, Christmas candles and stocking-fillers, look no further than Stockmarket (Via dei Banchi Vecchi 51-52, tel. 066864238). Susy Pugliese makes and sells her striking ceramic vases, pots, dishes and artistic creations in her store-cum-workshop just off Campo de Fiori, Le Tre Ghinee (Via del Pellegrino 53/a, tel. 066872739). Pugliese specialises in pieces with fretwork elements bathed in dramatic enamel colours. Nearby at I Colori di Dentro (Via dei Banchi Vecchi 28-30, tel. 066832494), Maria Grazia Luffarelli paints watercolours of the sort of landscapes and scenes that are both haunting and immediately appealing. Many of them are very nicely framed too. Pandora (Piazza S. Maria in Trastevere 6, tel. 065817145) is the perfect gift shop where you will find Venetian glass jewellery, ethnic handmade rings, bags, scarves, glass items and pottery by a range of artisans. The long premises of Fabriano (Via del Babuino 173, tel. 063260036) are lined with high-quality writing paper, photo albums, notepads, crayons, wallets and travel diaries arranged by colour.
And theres more...
For an all-in-one experience the relatively new outlet at Castel Romano (www.mcarthurglen.it) just south of Rome, has over 90 clothes and homeware stores sporting last seasons stock discounted from 30 to 70 per cent. Brands include Tommy Hilfiger, Bruno Magli, Versace, Diesel, Lagostina, Bassetti and Samsonite. Directions on how to get there can be found on the website. Note that there is a shuttle service between the metro stop EUR Palasport, on linea B, and the outlet, running until 9 January.