Store hours vary by the type of store. In general, shops are open from 9 am (9:30 in the center city) to 1pm and reopen from 4 pm to 7:30 pm.
However, there are exceptions:
1) Clothing stores follow the general hours but are closed on Sunday and Monday morning.
2) Food stores (bakeries, butchers, green grocers) open from 8 am to 1 pm and reopen from 5 pm to 7:30 pm. These shops are closed on Sunday and Thursday afternoon (except during the Summer when they are closed on Saturday afternoon and Sunday)
3) Outdoor fresh vegetable markets such as at Campo de'Fiori, open from 7 am to 2 pm Monday through Saturday.
4) Supermarkets (supermercati) are generally open all day from 8 am to 8 pm and many are open on Sunday.
Remember that many of these stores are closed at least 2 weeks (usually the last 2 weeks) in August for their summer holiday.
The best area for shopping or window-shopping is between via del Corso and via del Babuino in the vicinity of the Spanish Steps.
Many high fashion shops and haute couture boutiques are in this area: Armani, Prada, Gucci, Ferragamo, Bulgari Jewelers, Cartier Jewelers, Swatch, Mont Blanc in Via Condotti; Valentino in both Via Condotti and Piazza Mignanelli; Missoni, Sergio Rossi Shoes, Dolce & Gabbana, and Krizia in Piazza di Spagna; Fendi for Men, Versace for Men, Roberto Cavalli, Fratelli Rossetti shoes in Via Borgognona, Diego della Valle Shoes (Hogan) both in via Borgognona and in via del Babuino, Della Valle Shoes (Tod's) in via Fontanella Borghese, via Borgognona and via Condotti; Fendi for Women in the Fendi Palace in Largo Goldoni, Versace for Women and La Perla (high quality underwear for women) in Bocca di Leone; Etro and Emporio Armani in Via del Babuino. Battistoni, one of the most famous shops in Rome offering classic clothing for men and women, is in a small courtyard off the Via Condotti.
One of the most recognized international brands is the Ferrari brand and not only in the sports field. The well known "prancing horse" represents a symbol of general Italian excellence. There is a Ferrari store in Via Tomacelli and one at Fiumicino Airport. These stores offer many Ferrari items from watches to caps, hats, collectible toy cars and apparel signed by Alonso and Massa......all displaying the classic Ferrari red.
Be sure to check out many of the side streets off the Via Condotti such as Via delle Carrozze, Via della Croce and Via Frattina for more shops.
There are, of course, lower cost shopping areas. One is near the Vatican centered on Via Cola di Rienzo and Via Ottaviano where there are several department stores along with the smaller shops, all selling jeans, shoes, children's clothing, etc.
For all the cooking and kitchenware you may ever need try C.U.C.I.N.A. at 65 Via Mario de' Fiori or Peroni at 29 Piazza dell'Unità (They even sell the special mold, made of paper, to prepare an Italian panettone). For similar type items as well as cookbooks try 'Gusto at 7 Piazza Augusto Imperatore, a modern designed emporium which attracts many Roman Yuppies for a drink or a meal at the wine bar or the pizzeria as well as to the elegant, upstairs dining room.
For a Roman experience you won't forget, roam the never ending twists and turns in the cellar emporium known as Limentani. It is a Roman institution located in the Jewish Ghetto at 47 Via del Portico d'Ottavia. There is an extensive variety of well know household items, glassware and china stacked from floor to ceiling and all at very good prices. All Romans "in the know" buy their wedding gifts at Limentani.
Some wonderful (and expensive) antique shops are located in Via Giulia, the street behind Palazzo Farnese, the villa that is now the French Embassy. This street, situated between the Palazzo and the Tiber River, is filled with shops containing extensive selections of antique furniture and art making it one of the most fascinating streets in Rome.
Via del Babuino and via Margutta (near the Spanish Steps), is an area in which, until the 1960's, many painters had their studios and workshops. It is now home to many art galleries.
The Alinari Gallery at 16A Via Alibert specializes in copies of photos of Rome and Italy as well as specialized copies of art from earlier periods. Their historical photo collection is fascinating.
There are many artisan shops and boutiques around the Pantheon, Campo de'Fiori and Piazza Navona. In December there is a special Christmas Market in Piazza Navona.
Many of the shops on Via dei Sediari, Via del Teatro Valle and Via dei Cestari specialize in making wicker baskets and chairs along with linens and fabrics.
Generally stroll Via della Maddalena, Via della Stelletta, Largo Argentina and Via delle Botteghe Oscure for some old fashioned, traditional Roman shops.
If you like hunting for real bargains and would like the experience of being among local Romans who are bargain hunting in typical Roman fashion, check out:
1. Mas Allo Statuto located between the Main Railroad Station (Stazione Termini) and Piazza Vittorio at 11 Via della Statuto. It is one of the best known "bargain basement" stores for low cost clothing and shoes. It is open on Sundays.
2. If shoes are your interest take an early morning trip to the Testaccio Area near the Piramide. In the fresh vegetable outdoor market in via Beniamino Franklin there is a stall which is famous for selling very good women's shoes at bargain prices.
3. A not to be missed event: the Sunday morning flea market at Porta Portese. This is a not soon forgotten crowd scene where almost anything can be found even though most items can be characterized as flea market junk. This is not a place for the "faint at heart" or those who cannot stand to be in a very large, shoulder to shoulder crowd. It is strongly advised not to carry any valuables, just a small amount of cash in your pocket or your shoe and no passports, credit cards, etc.
Feltrinelli, one of the leading Italian bookstores has a major store located at Largo Argentina offering more than 70.000 titles. It has recently added a new, separate section for CDs and multimedia items. Feltrinelli is a chain with locations at the newly restored Galleria Colonna, at Via Emanuele Orlando (near the Piazza della Repubblica...also well known as Piazza Esedra), and at Via del Babuino. They carry a good selection of foreign language books.
For those late night persons who would like to sample a little different Roma di Notte (Roma by night), there is the Arion bookstore at 42 Via Veneto which is open until 12 am on Friday and Saturday nights. It offers the night wanderer a cafe where one can sit and enjoy browsing through a good book while sipping their drink or cappuccino.
The Giunti al Punto Children's Bookstore at 59 Piazza Santi Apostoli, has a very good selection of children's books.
IBS Bookstore is located in Via Nazionale and stocks all types of books.
Rotondi at 82 Via Merulana, is a unique bookstore that has recently been designated an "Historical Shop of Rome." It is a small shop but has a good selection of books on esoterica, astrology and oriental religions. It also stocks some rare books.
For books in English there are two bookstores in the center of the city: the Anglo-American Bookstore at 102 Via della Vite; and the Lion Bookstore at 36 Via dei Greci which also offers a cup of tea or coffee.
For books in French there is La Procure at 23 Via di San Luigi dei Francesi.
A German Bookstore, Herder, is near Piazza del Parlamento at 117 Piazza Montecitorio.
Campo de' Fiori is one the most scenic and celebrated local, outdoor, Italian markets most popular with tourists. It has served the people in this section of Rome for centuries.
It has, however, become mainly a tourist attraction and food & other items are very expensive.
A taste of the true Roman market may be found in several other areas not far from the historic center:
- the Esquilino market in via Turati (near the train Station) has hundreds of counters full of fresh fruits, vegetables, fish, etc...that attracts people all year around from all over the world
- the Testaccio Market in Piazza del Mattatoio, near the Ostiense Train and Subway Station, is in one of the very historic districts of Rome in a newly built covered building
- the Cola di Rienzo Market in Piazza dell'Unità, near the Vatican Museum, is in a covered building located in one of the best shopping areas of Rome
- the Trionfale Market, located near the Vatican Museum in via Andrea Doria in a new covered building, is one of the oldest and least expensive markets in Rome where you can still immerse yourself in Roman life.
Some of these shops are interesting to visit for their historical aspects even if you don't need any medicine.
The oldest Pharmacy in Roma is Farmacia Pesci at 89 Piazza Fontana di Trevi. The shop was opened in the 16th century and still has some of the original furnishings, jars and mortars and pestles of that period.
Antica Erboristeria Romana at 15 Via di Torre Argentina is a historical shop founded around 1700. It has wooden ceilings, cabinetry and counters. Standing in the shop with its ceramic containers and wooden drawers gives you the feeling of being in a Harry Potter movie.
Farmacia Peretti at 7 Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere, in the very heart of Trastevere, dates back to the late 19th century and still has the feeling of an old fashioned Farmacia.
For homeopathic remedies, the best selections are at the Farmacia Piram in Via Nazionale.
Keep in mind that Italy does not have typical over-the-counter drugstores. All medicines, even aspirin, have to be purchased by requesting it from the pharmacist at a Farmacia. There are no shelves piled high with medicinal products that you can just pick up. Of course, for any medicine that requires a prescription you must first get the prescription from a doctor.