Rome city guide

Roma city guide by Angela Liguori

This is Roma, my city, where I’m from and where I feel I still belong. The following is a list of shops, cafes, some museums and galleries. These are places I like to go every time I’m in Rome. I’m sure I’m missing something in my guide, but this can be just a starting point. Most of the places listed are in the historical center, with a few exceptions. Rome is perfect for walking around; the weather is almost always sunny, anytime of the year.

I hope you will enjoy it! MUSEUMS and FOUNDATIONS

Galleria Nazionale di Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Viale delle Belle Arti, 131.

Palazzo delle Esposizioni, built in 1883 is the first monumental public work built in the capital after the reunification of Italy in 1871. Because of its gigantic dimensions, it is hard to miss on Via Nazionale, 194. The first floor is now dedicated to photography and contemporary art exhibitions; the building also hosts a multimedia room, a roof garden restaurant, an art and design bookstore and a gift shop.

Fondazione Pastificio Cerere, Via degli Ausoni, 7. Located in the heart of the historical district of San Lorenzo, outside the ancient wall of Rome, this is the former pasta factory Cerere from the beginning of XIX century. In 2004 it became an art foundation, with spacious artists lofts and galleries inside the large building and courtyard. It is also an example of recovery and conversion of industrial sites in Rome, to beautiful and unusual places to visit.

La Casa del Cinema hosts a large movie theatre, a conference and shopping centre, specializing in DVDs, an extensive bookshop, two smaller movie theatres and two showrooms. A café and restaurant are also on the premises. All in the renovated and transformed XVII century Casina delle Rose in Villa Borghese, just above the Spanish Steps.

MACRO Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Roma, Via Reggio Emilia, 54. The main building of the MACRO is located in the former industrial brewery of Birra Peroni, at the Testaccio district. The Macro is an environment–museum of contemporary art that unites the preexistent industrial area and the rest of the city.

MLAC Museo Laboratorio di Arte Contemporanea, Piazzale Aldo Moro, 5. The museum opened recently in 1985 as part of the Roman University La Sapienza, just behind the sculpture of Minerva by Arturo Martini, in the large building of the Rectorate. Interesting is the idea of hosting exhibitions for a large audience in a dynamic and innovative structure and promoting contemporary, emerging artists.

Also on the list, one of the most beautiful, intimate streets in Rome, Via Giulia, now full of contemporary art galleries and antiques shops, designed by Donato Bramante for Pope Giulio II, at the beginning of the XVI century.


Fabriano Boutique carries fine stationery and modern paper design for blank and address books, folders, albums, pencils and ink. In a beautiful interior, based on old papermaking traditions, Fabriano Boutique carries products of minimal design on high quality paper. Located on Via del Babuino, 173, but also at Aereoporto Leonardo DaVinci, Satellite Ovest, Partenze Internazionali. If you miss it in the city, you can still see their beautiful paper products before leaving Italy.

Vertecchi is an art supply store close to the Spanish Steps, with a variety of office, graphic design and art supplies, wrapping and artist papers, boxes, stationery, fountain pens and beautiful leather briefcases.

In the same area, on Via Frattina, 124, is Cartotecnica Romana. Established in 1914, it carries elegant stationery, greeting cards and fine fountain pens and ink.

Established in Firenze in 1774, Pineider has two locations in Rome. It carries high quality, colorful, but delicate, stationery and leather desk and office accessories.

Il Papiro has several lovely, little shops in Rome, with one location very close to the Pantheon. It carries stationery and desk accessories, hand-made with traditional marbled paper. Their style and color quality are very distinctive.

In the same area, established in 1910, Cartoleria Pantheon carries hand-decorated paper and leather binding, along with a great selection of Italian decorative paper by Tassotti and Bertini, sold by the sheet.

Poggi is an art supply store, established in 1825, where you can find among other things, color pigments in old jars and a great selection of printing paper. Poggi is at two locations: near Santa Maria della Minerva, on Via Pie` di Marmo, 38/41; and Trastevere, on Via Card. Merry del Val, 18/19.

Established in 1930, Antica Cartotecnica, in Piazza dei Caprettari, carries a wide variety of calligraphy supplies, some original from 1930/40. You can also find vintage nibs and ink, blank school books and pencils. Surprisingly, this is one of my most recent discoveries.

For antique etchings with views of Rome, go to Casali, Piazza della Rotonda, 81a. Tel. 066783515. Since 1878, it has been managed by the same family and at the same location, just in front of the left façade of the Pantheon.

Edizioni Almenodue on Via Duchi di Castro, 3, Scala H. Open to the public by appointment; call 06-33219429.
Under the imprint of
Edizioni Almenodue, that translates into “Press of at least two”, graphic designer Silvana Amato and I collaborate on the design and hand-binding of limited edition books. In this studio is where half of the design and production of the press takes place, with the other half happening in my studio in Boston. Here, you will also find a showcase of beautiful linen and natural fiber clothing and tote bags by designer Barbara Garofalo. She occupies and shares the space with her sewing and fabric materials. This site is off from the historical center, but easy to get to by public transportation and very close to Ponte Milvio, an ancient Roman bridge, over the Tiber river, still in use. The daily outdoor farmer market in the same area will complement

the trip.

Paper sculptures and papermaking with operating Hollander beater for pulp preparation can be found at Roberto Mannino Studio, on Via Ascoli Piceno, 23a. Call for appointment at 06. 84241659 or 338- 8737338. I used to work as a papermaker here for a few years, before moving back to the USA in 1999. By forming sheets of hand-made paper with mostly flax, abaca and kozo fiber, the wet paper is then used and transformed into Mannino’s art pieces. Mannino also offers group demonstrations in papermaking in the courtyard of his studio. Inquire if interested. I’m pretty sure his is the only studio in Rome operating the Hollander beater and owning authentic hand-made laid mould and deckles from England.

Located in the same area of Rome, I would like to mention the studio of a group of emerging illustrators called Serpeinseno, on Via Gentile da Mogliano, 31,
Tel: 06 43411230.


The Jewish ghetto is the area to find many fabric and notions shops along the tiny streets. Many of the shops went out of business in the last decade, but I can still find some of my favorites I have been going to since I was little; they have the same old wood cabinets full of goods. To name a few:

Fratelli Bassetti Tessuti on Via Vittorio Emanuael II, 73 is one of Rome’s largest fabric stores and also the fabric source for many Italian clothing and interior designers. Opened in 1954 by two brothers, the store is on two floors with double-height ceilings. It holds 200,000 fabrics in any color, shade and texture, distributed in a labyrinth of rooms and layers of rolls of fabric.

Azienda Tessile Romana on Via San Nicola dei Cesarini, 13, right on one side of Largo di Torre Argentina that hosts four Roman temples and the remains of the Theater of Pompey.

Paganini on Via d’Aracoeli, 21, specializes mostly in fabric for interior design, ulphostery and beddings, other kinds of fabric can also easily be found. www.paganini-

Merceria Branciforte, carries an incredible variety of threads, cords, ribbons, lace and buttons, in a completely full little shop on Piazza Paganica, 12 Tel. 06-6865271

Also small with beautiful cabinets full of cords and ribbons, Merceria Petroselli, in Via di Torre Argentina, 14, tel. 06-6893365

Passamaneria Crocianelli, Via dei Prefetti, 37-40. Tel. 06-6873592. This is away from the Jewish ghetto, but near the Parliament. It is an old-fashioned, two-room shop for everything you might need for renovating your sofa, armchair and curtains, the possibilities are endless, beginning with an amazing selection of cords, tassels and fringes.


Beautiful contemporary floral arrangements are to be found at Tulipani Bianchi, Via dei Bergamaschi, 59. The tile work, done as a contemporary mosaic, right on the floor of the entrance, it will draw your attention.


One of largest bookstore in Italy is Feltrinelli. Recently some of their locations in Rome have been renovated to include Illy coffee shops. The best Feltrinelli location, in my opinion, is the new three-story shop in the recently renovated Galleria Colonna, with enlarged photos of old Italian movies on the walls.

Amore e Psiche, the name based on an ancient Roman fairytale by Apuleius, is a beautiful bookstore with a modern design of maple wood and glass; it has a wide selection of art, architecture and design books. The spiral stairs and the interiors are worth seeing. Situated very close to beautiful Santa Maria della Minerva, it is on Via S. Caterina da Siena, 61.

For a more intimate and peaceful bookstore experience, go to Bibli and the outdoor Bibli caffe` in Trastevere, where they also offer lectures and small concerts.

The Auditorium Parco della Musica, in Viale Pietro De Coubertin, designed by Renzo Piano, opened in 2002 and has become a cultural centre not only for music. A very large selection of books, CDs, and DVDs can be found in the Notebook Auditorium, located in the North Hall, next to the Red Restaurant and the modern BArt exhibition halls. The entire architecture and interior design are worth seeing.

A great bookstore, which I always like to go through for inspiration is Ferro di Cavallo, specializing in art, design and photography. It is just in front of Accademia di Belle Arti,

in Via di Ripetta, 67. Just a little note on Via Ripetta, full of great shops and places to eat, is one of the three streets, with Via del Corso and Via del Babuino that formed a trident shape, a town-planning model conceived in the XVI century, starting from Piazza del Popolo. Via Ripetta ends by the ancient Roman Ara Pacis.

Located in historical Palazzo Colonna is one of the largest selections of children’s books in Italian and foreign languages: Mel Giannino Stoppani, on Piazza Santissimi Apostoli, 59-65, near Piazza Venezia. Here you can also find an entire bookshelf dedicated to books by contemporary Italian illustrators and writers, published by smaller presses. Something I always love to collect! It offers presentations with the authors, workshops, and afternoon reading sessions.

A beautiful selection of children’s literature and wood toys is Citta` del Sole, Via della Scrofa, 65.

Galleria Santa Cecilia is a bookstore and art gallery on Trastevere, specializing in photography books; the interior combines historic building with modern design and creative lighting. Piazza di Santa Cecilia, 16.


Spazio Sette, housed in a multi-level, three-story XVII century Palazzo Cavallerini with frescoes on the top floor, is one of my favorite shops for home design, with the greatest Italian and international brands. You can find everything from furniture to housewares, to modern desk accessories and beautiful glasswork. The selection of products is remarkable. Because of their unique location, you enter the shop from a tiny door, sometimes hard to see in the narrow street; the experience can be better than going to a design museum. Via dei Barbieri, 7.

c.u.c.i.n.a. on Via Mario dei Fiori, 65, is one of the most chic kitchen accessory shops in Rome. It is the Italian acronym for “how a kitchen invents new taste”.

Tad on Via del Babuino, 155/a where part of the store is dedicated to interior design overflowing with colours and fragrances. In the same location there is also TadLab with exhibitions and art installations.

On Via Margutta, 21, just off from Via del Babuino, Urishi, with Japanese furniture and beautiful lamps by Isamu Nagushi, made with hand-made kozo fiber paper.

Culti, in Via Francesco Crispi, 45.
Elegant, geometrical design in natural woods and transparent glass for furniture, fragrance and spa accessories with clean, modern packaging design, Culti is the creation of home designer Alessandro Agrati.

On Via Giulia, 140, a beautiful little shop called Magie di Casa carries unique products of hand-printed linens by Stamperie Bertozzi. The wood blocks are hand-carved and hand-beaten with a mallet on the cotton cloth. There are aprons, dishtowels and tabletop and more for the kitchen and home.

One shop I always like to visit is De Sanctis, from 1890, first located in Piazza Navona, they now moved to this new location in Piazza di Pietra, 24. They carry a wide variety of traditional hand-painted Italian ceramics, including ceramics made by one of my favorite Sicilian ceramist DeSimone.

AD` Architettura d’Interni, Via L. Bissolati, 27/29, carries interior designs from Italian and International designers. It is located on two floors, with walls and floor painted in orange.

Arredamenti Cascone, on Via Merulana, 21, carries furniture and accessories for the home.

Focused on interior design for kitchen and bathrooms, Atelier Monti is in beautiful and hilly Quartiere Monti, Via Panisperna, 42. The whole street, with its shops and restaurants, is well worth it. In the last decade it flourished with new galleries, bookstores and small boutiques.

Bernardini and Co., on Via dei Banchi Vecchi, 109, carries classical contemporary design objects and other original products as well as terracotta vases and modern carpets.

Secondome is a design gallery opened recently in 2006. Located on Via Pianellari, 26-27 in the historic Palazzo Scapucci, near Piazza San Luigi dei Francesi. The old architecture complements the modern designs and home products, represented by Italian and international designers. Beautiful lamps, chairs, and best bookshelf.

As a start, the
Camper shoe shop is right on Piazza di Spagna, 72.

Gallo is one of my favorite boutiques for gloves, scarves hats and socks, with beautiful patterns and vibrant colors on Via della Vittoria, 63.

On the same street, is also Il Baco di Seta, carrying amazing silk clothing, shoes and purses designed and produced exclusively for the store. The store itself has an astonishing interior, clean and modern, with a very high ceiling. An inspiration.

Also in the same area and not to be missed is Mia Zia, on Via Mario dei Fiori, 62. The following is the description of the store in its own words: ”This mini-boutique uses desert colours to promote the articles of the brands created by Valerie Barkowski and her

passion for art. Mia Zia, initially invented to sell wool scarves to finance an art foundation, soon become a commercial and artistic adventure that has lost nothing of its original inspiration: all kinds of hand-made articles. An expert embroiderer makes every little detail by hand. Most of the collection has been produced by traditional, textile machines that still need expert hands to make them work”.

Fausto Santini, on Via Frattina, 120, is a Roman stylist of leather shoes and bags. His designs are displayed in a very minimalist environment with white, large space to highlight his stylistic creations.

Right off from Via Ripetta, at number 39 on a small street called Via dell’Oca, there is designer Cristina Bomba. It offers a tailoring service to make unique pieces with their beautiful selection of fabrics on display on the first floor. There are also clothing, lingerie, and accessories, for men, women and children, also in natural yarns, cashmere, silk, cotton and linen. The shop itself is unique, with a sparse, simple display of beautiful textiles; it is a pleasure for the eye. Under historical vaults, there is a small water fountain to complement the interior, and since 2001 part of the space has been open for art and design exhibitions.

On Via dei Bergamaschi, 60 next to Piazza di Pietra and the Roman temple, is Spazioespanso, a clothing boutique that carries small, independent fashion designers and jewelry, often integrated with art exhibit. Some of the clothing are displayed on a four- meter tree trunk in the middle of the store.

Clothing designer Susanna Liso is at Le Tartarughe on Via Pie` di Marmo, 17 with beautiful apparel and accessories.

A few steps away from pedestrian square San Lorenzo in Lucina, Manecchi on Via di Campo Marzio, 35, has become one of the most fashionable accessory stores, always in search for new brands. Necklaces, bags, but above all shoes, mostly by Italian designers are carried.

Near Campo de` Fiori is contemporary jewelry designer Paola Volpi. Her work is beautifully displayed on Piazza dei Satiri, 55. In her own words:” Paola Volpi works through transforming serial materials for mainly industrial use, into jewelry through a subtle and audacious balance. The design of the jewelry has its origins in the materials themselves, that inspires the shapes and the manufacturing techniques. Nylon, electric cable, pvc, and pearls in harmonic relation that combines affection for the ancient and a passion for the modern”.

For modern European children clothing, I always like to take a look at colorful Catimini, on Via della Vittoria, 27 and sophisticated, but playful Pinco Pallino on Via del Babuino, 115. and

Two long streets, crowded with people and full of shops of any kind, are Via del Corso off the Spanish Steps and near the Vatican, but far enough is Via di Cola di Rienzo. Both

are perfect for shopping and for taking a real Roman stroll, especially on a Saturday afternoon. For small boutiques, trattorie and local designers also need to be mentioned Via del Pellegrino, Via Monserrato and Via dei Banchi Nuovi.


One of the best cafes in Rome without any doubt is Sant’ Eustachio, established in 1938, in Piazza Sant’ Eustachio, 82, from where you can also see one of the most amazing baroque cupola: San Ivo alla Sapienza, by Francesco Borromini. The caffe` has the most creamy, full-experience espresso, with authentic floor mosaics and interiors from the 1930’s.

Right next to the Pantheon, on Via degli Orfani, 84, in the same location since 1946 is Tazza D’Oro for unforgettable granita di caffe` con panna.

Not to be missed Caffe` Greco, just in front the Spanish Steps, has been at the same location since 1760, Via Condotti, 86. It is a centuries-old coffee house where Lord Byron and Goethe had coffee and also where Richard Wagner and Franz Liszt met for pastries. Its labyrinthine room conjures up images of the past and the people that used to come here.

In one of the most beautiful baroque squares in Rome, Piazza Santa Maria della Pace, you can find another of my favorite cafés, Antico Caffe` della Pace.

For wine, food and gourmet magazine and books, go to Gusto in Piazza Augusto Imperatore, 9.
With a beautiful interior design, the shop and restaurant are located on two floors, and the big windows face onto the portico, with a view of Mausoleum of Augustus.

For small meals, the best cured meats, a vast selection of cheeses, genuine buffalo milk mozzarella, wine and delicious suppli`(rice, meat, with mozzarella and tomato souce fried balls) there is Volpetti, Via della Scrofa, 22. They recently opened a sit down space, with a few tables, perfect for a quick lunch.

Or for wine tasting and small meals, go to Cul de` Sac, in Piazza Del Pasquino, 73, in a small square, just behind Piazza Navona.

In the same beautiful area, near Piazza Navona, the best thin crust pizza of all Rome is at Pizzeria Baffetto, on Via del Governo Vecchio, 114. There is always a long line outside the pizzeria, at almost any time during the day, but it is absolutely worth the wait. The place is not big and always crowded, but memorable. On the same street there are many vintage clothing stores and antiques. Put this street on your list of places to visit.

A typical Roman trattoria on Trastevere is Mario’s, Via del Moro 53- 55 tel. 065803809

If you are on Trastevere, there is an amazing little shop for a large variety of home made cookies, all in display in the street window. It is hard to miss: Biscottificio Artigiano, Via della Luce, 21.

One of the best bakeries for breads of all shapes and tastes, fine pastries, chocolate, and pizza is Panella, on Largo Leonardi, 2. Very close to one of the four basilicas of Rome: Santa Maria Maggiore. Off of the major tourist area, it is an unforgettable bakery.

I cannot complete a guide to Rome, without mentioning a place I have been going to since my older brother brought me there with his motorcycle at the age of 12. For the best, always-fresh slice of pizza, go to the bakery Forno on Campo de’ Fiori, 22. It also carries an unbelievable selection of bread, pastries and cookies. Almost all the people that used to work there when I was young still work there, and I’m amazed they even have a website! The pictures of them carrying a one meter long pizza are beautiful!


Everytime I’m in Rome, any time of the year, I always go to Giolitti, for the best gelato. Giolitti has a huge variety of flavors, all exceptionally good, on Via Uffici del Vicario, 40, near the Parliament; it is in a beautiful area to walk with a gelato in your hands. It is also interesting to read the story of how it all began in 1890 and how they used to sell milk from their pastures in the Roman countryside.

Also for outstanding gelato and the best panna (the white cream that they put on the top of gelato) there is Fassi in Via Principe Eugenio, 65/67,
in the gelato business since the beginning of XIX century.

La Gelateria San Crispino, near the Trevi Fountain, in Via della Panetteria, 42. And in the same area, there is an authentic gelateria Da Cecere, with incredible zabaione and fruit flavors, Via del Lavatore, 85. This area is incredibly touristy and full of pizza and gelato places. Don’t get confused, these on the list are the only ones worth trying.

Also the gelato at Bar Marani in the San Lorenzo district, Via dei Volsci, 57, needs to be mentioned; it uses traditional family recipes!


Porta Portese market is the biggest and the most popular market of Rome, as the flea market is in Paris and the Portobello Road is in London. Everything can be found: new and old clothes, shoes, leather, food, vintage, real or fake antique. It is only open on Sundays mornings, sunrise to 1.30pm. For the best bargain, try to arrive before 9:00 before it becomes incredibly crowded and hard to walk through.

One of the largest fruit and vegetable, meat and fish markets is in Piazza Vittorio, close to the Stazione Termini; it takes place all around the square, everyday in the morning, except Sundays. The area is one of the most cosmopolitan and busy in Rome; Middle Eastern and Asian spices are now sold in the market, and a lot of Chinese shops surround the square.

The flower and farmer market in Campo de’ Fiori is one of the oldest in Rome; it has taken place every morning since 1869. “Here, on 17 February 1600, the philosopher Giordano Bruno was burnt alive by the Roman Inquisition because his ideas were deemed dangerous. In 1887 Ettore Ferrari dedicated a monument to him on the exact spot of his death: he stands defiantly facing the Vatican, reinterpreted in the first days of a reunited Italy as a martyr to freedom of speech” Wikipedia.

Beyond the daily market, the square is one of the most busy and lively places of Rome, surrounded by shops, restaurants and pubs; it is also a very popular meeting place until very late at night.

Specializing in ancient prints and antiques is Fontanella Borghese Market, located in the square just in front of Facolta`di Architettura - Universita`La Sapienza, in Piazza Fontanella Borghese. Open from 9 am to 7 pm, everyday except Sundays, the market is small and quiet, in a beautiful intimate square.

Borghetto Flaminio, in Piazza della Marina, 32, just off from Via Flaminia, is a small flea market with objects, clothes, small antiques, curiosities, books and crafts. Open from 10 am to 7 pm., every Sunday.

A narrow, intimate medieval street, full of antiques and craft boutiques worth seeing is Via dei Coronari, just near to Piazza Navona, “Originally named Via Recta, this street was created by a radical redesign of this medieval quarter by Pope Sixtus IV. The idea was to create a through road to Ponte Sant'Angelo and then further on, to St. Peter's. Because the road was subsequently thronged with pilgrims, it was lined with stands and shops selling sacred souvenirs and rosary beads; rosary beads used to be called crowns of beads and hence the name of the street became Via dei Coronari. The fascinating medieval feel is still alive today, though the old souvenir shops have given way to antique shops”.


I have never needed a place to stay in Rome, so this is the section I have the least knowledge of, but the following are some luxury hotels where the modern interior designs are outstanding:

Ripa Hotel, Via Orti di Trastevere, 1,
Abitart Hotel, Via P. Matteucci, 10/20
Art Hotel, Via Margutta, 56
De Russi, Via del Babuino, 9,
Residence Barberini, Via delle Quattro Fontane, 171/172, Ripa Hotel, Via Orti di Trastevere, 1,