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Rome’s countless architectural and historic treasures, its beauty and its amazing cityscapes make an attractive destination for tourists from all over the world. It has practically everything and evidence of its history is all around you, from when it began more than twothousand years ago, right through to innovative state of the art technology. It is what makes Rome so magical and why even a shopping trip is also a journey through culture and art.

Via del Corso winds its way to Piazza Venezia. Originally called via Lata (wide), the change to Corso came about because the Berber horses, in Rome to compete in the jousts in the Roman Carnival, used to “run” its length. Known for its young, colourful and lively fashion, there is a steady ebb and flow of youngsters invading the road and pavements. Shop windows here are filled to bursting with jeans in every style imaginable, trousers in high-tech materials, sweatshirts, trainers and t-shirts, on which some shops will, if asked, print whatever words and images are all the rage at the time. Jackets in technical materials and the latest collections of major casual clothing designers await the groups of youngsters keen to amaze their friends with their latest purchases.

Otherwise, he could take a detour and head for the roads around the Campo Marzio, also full of elegant shops that exude charm. Up until the Augustan era, the Campo Marzio represented the heart of the city, but by the Middle Ages it was the district that had the highest concentration of people and in Renaissance times, it became the “in” place for the nobility to build the sumptuous palaces - such as the Palazzo Massimo alle Colonne, the Palazzo Borghese and the Palazzo Farnese - that were to become their habitual homes.

Moving on, those, who like our tourist discover they like “old things” will be delighted by the many treasures they find as they wander amidst the Renaissance palaces and Baroque squares that populate this district. Antique hunters really do see this district as a treasure trove, and it is also the right place to taste Rome’s most fashionable coffee – against the beautiful backdrop of the square dedicated to St. Eustace.
Nearby, our tourist will find the via del Pellegrino, named after the “Pellegrino” inn that welcomed and fed countless pilgrims heading for St. Peter’s, although it was once called the via degli Orefici because of its many goldsmith’s shops. The road running along the side of the Palazzo della Cancelleria (the Treasury) was once full of artisans’ studios, many of which have now disappeared, although the shops that have replaced them have followed their example and sell popular, artisanal and much sought after handmade items, which has helped preserve the character of this and many lanes and alleyways nearby. Here, our tourist might buy handmade items such as small pieces of furniture, picture frames, lamps and the furnishing material found in the homes of the bourgeoisie at the end of the 19th century, but he’ll also find clothes, costume jewellery, shoes and bags impossible to find anywhere else created by Roman stylists and artisans.

He still has time to look for one-off items of clothing, small boutiques or even the studios occupied by the latest crop of young artists and Monti is the perfect area for this. Not far from the Colosseum and smaller and less touristy than others, it is a blend of modernity and historic charm. There are gems of all kinds waiting for him in its tiny streets and tranquil corners, including craftwork, architecture and fashion. Despite its history as the “Suburra” of ancient Rome – the part of the city reserved for city dwelling “plebs” who lived in abject misery surrounded by every type of criminal activity, today it is an enclave for young artists and the creative heart of the city. Its streets are often filled with the whirring of a designer’s sewing machine, or the tapping of a goldsmith’s hammer, but lovers of anything vintage or original will not be disappointed, although the small, attractive shops selling these items are sometimes hidden away between the ups and downs of the road.

Monti’s history is much like that of all Rome’s working class districts, like San Lorenzo, which thanks to the presence of “La Sapienza”, until a few decades ago Rome’s only university, is till the city’s primary university district. Ostiense is another such district which also includes Garbatella quarter and it’s unusual “city garden” architecture and many examples of industrial buildings. It was also the setting for many of Ozpetek’s films. Today, thanks in part to the younger generations of artists who live there, these are the districts that set the new and more relevant cannons of fashion, music and all the many forms of contemporary art.

Perhaps he’ll have time to dash over to another Sunday market in the Borghetto Flaminio to look at the second-hand clothes, small furnishing items and much more besides, but maybe he will opt for the markets in the more modern settings of Piazza Verdi or Piazza Mazzini and therefore discover yet another aspect of the city. The street names here reflect Rome’s more recent history, namely the 20th century, a period when a more severe style of architecture – Umbrian – was in vogue.

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Culture and leisure › Cultural heritage › Architectural and historical heritage
Culture and leisure › Cultural heritage › Architectural and historical heritage
Culture and leisure › Cultural heritage › Architectural and historical heritage
Culture and leisure › Cultural heritage › Architectural and historical heritage
Last checked: 2016-12-16 13:21