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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Best Rome Department Stores

Galleria Alberto Sordi.Image via WikipediaIn Paris, the grands magasins, or big department stores, were an integral part of the turn-of-the-century redesign for the city. Beautiful Art Nouveau buildings for Printemps, Galleries Lafayette, and La Semaritaine replaced the passages that were the city's first indoor shopping arcades.
Visitors to Rome expecting to find departments stores in a league with those or Harrods in London may be a little disappointed. Since much of the city was laid out in ancient times, buildings, including the Rome department stores, are much smaller. But what they lack in size, they make up for in convenience - most are open every day until 9PM. If you're looking for a huge store with dozens of departments, those are mostly found on the ring road that encircles the city.
Many of the stores in the historic heart of the city are near fashionable Via Condotti. So if you don't find what you're looking for, you can head for the haute couture boutiques, such as Dolce & Gabbano or Versace.

The premier Italian department store, La Rinascente first opened in Milan in 1865. A pair of brothers began making men's clothes there and opened their first Rome store on Via del Corso in an old palazzo. The international Zara chain recently purchased La Rinascente and opened Rome locations in Galleria Alberto Sordi and suburban Piazza Fiume.

Both stores carry all the top Italian and international brands, including Armani Collezione, Burberry, Marc Jacobs, 7 for all Mankind, and Guess. For something stylish but more affordable, look for La Rinascente's own Ellerre brand. The perfume, cosmetics, and different fashion departments are set up like individual boutiques within the store. Clothing for men, women, and children are all gorgeous.

The Piazza Fiume location is a little off the beaten path, but if has beautiful housewares.

Coin doesn't quite have the cache of La Rinascente, but it's also a little less expensive. If you like brands like DKNY, Calvin Klein, Esprit, and Lacoste, you'll find them here, as well as good clothes for kids and nice things for the home. The main store is near the Vatican on Piazzale Appio. And with a Milan hair salon, restaurant, and bar, it's pretty full service.

The U.S. equivalent to Kohl's or Target, Oviesse has inexpensive accessories, cosmetics, and clothes that appeal to a younger crowd. So if you're traveling with teenagers, this should be on your list. Some of their store are also called OVS Industry or OVS. If you're shopping for a baby, Fiorucci designs for their Baby Angels boutiques. They're located all over Rome, so chances are there's one convenient to your hotel.

Unico Presso Italiano Milano (UPIM) was founded in 1928 in the town of Cremona. La Rinascente owned the chain until they sold them to Coin in early 2010. UPIM competes directly with H&M and they have their own fashion lines for kids, men, and women. Their BLUKIDS line is especially cute and well priced. This is a great place to come if you're looking for stylish things for the home too. They're on Via del Tritone not far from Palazzo Barberini.

Find more on Rome here. Or find London department stores here.

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