Dressing Up Old as New
One of the fun things about shopping in Rome is the variety of great resale boutiques. If you enjoy snooping around second-hand stores, you are in for a treat because there is a wide range and something for every budget.
Starting with the broadest assortment of merchandise, “Mercatino” is a juicy find. Founded in 1995, this re-sell franchise has 170 locations in Italy, including seven in Lazio and three in Rome. Its website at www.mercatinousato.com is in Italian only, but even with limited Italian language skills, the stores’ addresses are easy to locate. The store at Via M. Camperio 25 near the Ostiense air terminal has quite an interesting array of merchandise. From baby beds to walking sticks, records to musical instruments, bicycles to household appliances, a child’s desk with chair to what looked like an adult’s desk (but in reality was a pull-out bed), you will be entertained, if not astounded. Used washing machines can be had for Euro 60-100, and a dinette set with four chairs was only Euro 50. Need your own personal tanning bed? You can take one home for Euro 250. This company has an ecological mission statement posted on its website. To sum it up, “Mercatino” promotes the habit of recycling to safeguard the environment. Even if you are not in the market to buy, you can also sell your unneeded belongings here.
“D.A. Dress Agency” at Via del Vantaggio 1/b near Piazza del Popolo specializes in upscale designer clothing from Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, Prada and many others. A like-new, Georgio Armani pantsuit was priced at only Euro 120. The owner, Francesca, says she accepts only gently-worn merchandise from well-to-do Roman women. She also has a nice selection of scarves, handbags, belts, and shoes. A fuchsia-colored, snakeskin, shoulder bag by Ferragamo was tagged at Euro 120. This is about a fourth of what you would expect to pay for a brand new handbag at the Ferragamo store on Via Condotti.
The retail prices for new Levi jeans in Italy can almost justify a trip to the ‘States. “Jeans Shop” at Via del Boschetto 14 has a very large used selection with zip-fronts running at Euro 35 and button-fly styles at Euro 45. The prices for denim jackets vary, but all are under Euro 100. Down the street and around the corner on the way to the Cavour metro stop is “Le Vesti di Messalina” at Via Leonina 24. The shop’s business card promises “l’usato americano”. White peasant tops with colorful embroidery are only Euro 8 and there are stacks of jeans at various low prices.
To prepare for the rainy months, several shops offer Burberry trench coats. Men and women can be outfitted near Piazza Navona at “Omero & Cecilia” at Via del Governo Vecchio 110 and at “abiti usati” on the same street, at number 35, for Euro 52-77. Leather coats, long and short, can be purchased for Euro60-77 and leather trousers are Euro 50. Suede coats are somewhat less expensive at Euro 45. While in the neighborhood, check out “Cinzia”, at number 45, for tank dresses from Euro 10 and mod-patterned shirts at Euro 12. Keep your wits about you on Via del Governo Vecchio as the funky new designer shops specializing in looks from the 1970s and 1980s are easy to confuse with the real 1970s and 1980s merchandise being sold next door. Sometimes the prices are the only way to tell the difference.
“Pulp, Freak & Chic” at Via del Boschetto 140 adds a bit of a different slant to typical retro looks. The owner, Fabrizio Polanscai, modifies used items to give them a new edge. For example, he embellished a pair of women’s jeans with touches of camouflage fabric. Other items have had tulle and glitter added for style points. Polanscai also designs ultramodern jewelry and clothing, which is sold here as well. Among the shop’s cute funky 1970s era dresses and denim jackets are lamps from the same period priced from Euro50-120 and a clock with a bright orange face that would have been at home on the set of the Partridge Family TV series. The mod 1960s phone used for business is grass green.
This is only a tiny sampling of the many delightful resale shops to be discovered in Rome. Two Roman friends insisted that any article on bargain shopping in Rome must also include the Porta Portese outdoor market located at Via Portuense and Via Ippolito Nievo in Trastevere. The market, which is only open on Sundays, offers a large selection of both new and used items. Here, the savvy shopper can stock up on electronics, jewelry, clothing, shoes and many more good buys.
Stores to Visit in Italy for Sales:
- Mercatino: Via M. Camperio 25, tel. 065748288; Via dei Levii 63-65, tel. 0676967648;
- Via Casilina 925/c, tel. 062303865; www.mercatinousato.com.
- D. A. Dress Agency: Via del Vantaggio 1/b, tel. 063210898.
- Jeans Shop: Via del Boschetto 14, tel. 064870726.
- Le Vesti di Messalina: Via Leonina 24, tel. 064881114.
- Omero & Cecilia Vestiti Vecchi: Via del Governo Vecchio 110, tel. 066833506.
- Abiti usati: Via del Governo Vecchio 35, tel. 068307105.
- Cinzia: Via del Governo Vecchio 45, no tel.
- Pulp, Freak & Chic: Via del Boschetto 140, tel. 349/6531465, 347/4753815.
- Porta Portese outdoor market: Via Portuense and Via Ippolito Nievo, Sun 06.30-14.00.
- Via Sannio outdoor Market: Piazza S Giovanni in Laterano, Monday-Friday 8am-2pm, Saturday 8am to 5pm
By Martha Miller