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Italy Today - Rome

Yet despite the grand scale of public buildings and buzz of this fabulous city, wandering around her backstreet you will find quieter corners, in which to reflect on all its beauty.
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Shopping in Rome means browsing along some of the most picturesque streets of the city. And although Rome has an abundance of designer shops, it also has wonderful art galleries and antique shops to explore. The most famous shopping area is in the streets at the foot of the Spanish Steps, where Via Condotti boasts some of the most renowned names in fashion—Gucci, Valentino, Ferragamo, and even the French Hermès and Cartier. It also has great Italian jewelers, among them the Roman Bulgari, with his ornate creations, the exquisite antiques of Carlo Eleuteri, and the silver and gold of Buccellati.

Fendi and Ferre are on Via Borgognona, Benetton seems everywhere, and the Via Babuino boasts Missoni, Giorgio Armani, and Krizia. In fact, the Via Babuino is even more famous for its shops of French and Italian antiques, and they spill over to Via Margutta. Babuino and Margutta also offer more contemporary choices; from the sumptuous fabrics of Cesari (Babuino 18) to stylish Cassina (Babuino 100) with the latest in Italian furniture as well as Frank Lloyd Wright designs and Artemide (Magutta 108) with Memphis-style lamps, more witty than they are beautiful. Also, Via Margutta is full of art galleries and boasts a spring and fall art festival. Just off Babuino near the Spanish Steps is Alinari (Via Alibert 16a) with fine old photos of Rome.

Not everything in this area is quite so expensive. For fashion, the most upscale block is Via Bocca di Leone (between Frattina and Carrozze) with Valentino, Ferragamo, Ungaro, Gianni Versace, and Matassi jewelry. For more affordable designer clothing and accessories (but not by much), check out Discount dell'Alta Moda (Via Gesu e Maria 16). The jewelry at Jako (Via Mario dei Fiori 57) or Clio Bijoux (Via Croce 53) is emphatically and stylishly fake.

The clothing is smart at the shops on Via Gambero, but more affordable, just as it is around the Via Campo Marzio, on the other side of the Corso, or in the Rinascente department store (Corso across from P. Colonna). The little outdoor market on Piazza della Fontanella Borghese (near end of Via Ripetta; closed Saturday afternoons and Sunday) is highly respected for its antique prints and rare books. And at Palazzo Ruspoli Art Gallery (Corso 418; fee) you can admire a 16th-century mansion along with the special exhibits of world-famous artists, while the Galleria Edieuropa (Corso 525) often exhibits works by important Italian artists of this century.

Between the Piazza Navona and the Tiber are a multitude of shops, both the trendy and the stodgy, that give you an excuse for strolling through some of the most attractive streets of historic Rome. The galleries and English antique shops of Via Coronari are the most famous, but not far away is the most avant-garde art gallery in town, Ugo Ferranti (Via dei Soldati 25a) and the plaster busts of cupids and ancient Romans (Beatrice Palma, Pianellari 17).

Just off the Piazza Navona, along Via Banchi Nuovi, there are antique shops as well as up-and-coming clothing designers. Shops are plentiful in the Campo dei Fiori neighborhood too, where the beautiful Via Giulia offers fine art and antique galleries like the Galleria Giulia (No. 148) as well as fine crafts, such as the Italian ceramics at Ceramiche (No. 22). Nearby you can find those brass lion door knockers you've always wanted (Handles, Via Pettinari at Via Giulia) as well as beautiful old tiles and their fine reproductions at Galleria Farnese (P. Farnese). Off the Campo dei Fiori, Via dei Cappellari runs parallel with Via Giulia, and is crammed with shops offering furnishings, both antique and simply old, but less pricey. Around the Pantheon, there are the exquisite priests' robes, scepters, and chalices at De Ritas (Via de Cestari 48) contrasting with the stylish plastic housewares of Guzzini at Sodero II (P. Minerva 72).

If mainstream shopping isn't for you, then check out Trastevere. Funkier shops, many the workshops of artisans, are found here amid the fruit stands, especially in the streets around Santa Maria in Trastevere and on Via della Lungaretta. Just off Via del Moro is the Galleria (Via Pelliccia 29), with superb Italian folk art, including Pugliese ceramics. Contemporary art galleries are here, too, like the Galleria Alessandra Bonamo (P. Sant'Apollonia 3, upstairs) and Il Ponte (Via della Lungara 15)

A lot of Roman dance clubs will seem retro to the glitzy, expensive U.S. dance clubs of the 1980s—except there are plenty of Lotharios hanging around to play stud to the international female set. So unless you've money to burn and don't mind witnessing and possibly receiving sexual advances, don't go. Some more publike bars have opened, and probably make a better place just to hang out and meet people on a platonic basis.

Many clubs close in the summer, so be sure to call and make sure that your choice is open.

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