ROME – Tourists are rewarded for coming to the Eternal City during the sweltering summer months. First, July and August – the hottest months – are when Romans flee the city for cooler climates, thus leaving the usually chaotic streets free of traffic.
Secondly, the shopkeepers left behind are forced to slash their prices to attract business. That means huge savings at hotels and especially at the designer stores that this city is so famous. The first Italian word most veteran shoppers learn is “Saldi” or sale, which you see posted on windows of upscale stores around the chic Piazza di Spagna.
Walking down the piazza’s world famous Spanish Steps brings you closer to some of the hottest bargains in the world – designer merchandise that has been reduced by 40, 50, 60, 70 and in some cases, 80 per cent.
Above: Sales are hottest in summer when Romans go om vacation.
Tourists flock to well-known shops like Roberto Cavalli, Christian Dior, Gucci and Yves St. Laurent to scoop up the “saldi” items they normally wouldn’t be able to afford at home. While not as generous as other high-end stores, the world’s most noted designers still offer 40 to 50 per cent savings.
Neighborhood stores selling hot new clothes from up-and-coming Italian designers offer even bigger bargains – the savings there can reach 70 per cent – while lower end stores forced to compete tempt shoppers with savings so steep they might as well be giving away their clothes.
The key dates to remember are July 10 through August 24, the preferred holiday weeks for Romans.
Those who can’t wait for summer should remember that designer clothes sold in Rome are already discounted by up to 20 per cent when compared to design capitals like London, Paris and Milan.
Left: Rome's restaurants are cheaper in summer. Right: The Spanish Steps.
It’s hard the resist the bargains or the flirtatious glances the dark eyed sales women offer male shoppers. All part of the Roman sales pitch, I guess. This TraveLife contributor walked out with three shirts – he didn’t need! Because the American dollar has lost its muscle against the euro in recent years, shopkeepers have had to offer at-par deals to keep their free-spending American clients coming.
One drawback to shopping in Rome during the summer, though, is that for every shop that’s open, two are closed. And that extends to the restaurant industry as well. The city estimates that as much as 70 per cent of its restaurants close during the previously mentioned July and August dates.
But there’s still a few gems open – like the charming eatery known as the Trattoria Otello alla Concordia. This is a true Roman eatery where you dine beneath tangled grape vines and share conversation with the family owners eating next to you. The cramped Otello stands at 81 Via della Croce inside the courtyard of an 18th century palace which once belonged to a noble family named Boncompagni.
The most charming Roman eating establishment TraveLifecccc recommends you visit is the l'Enoteca Antica, a wine bar at 76b Via della Croce where actor Jack Nicholson likes to hang out when he visits Rome.
Walking into this restaurant/bar is like walking back in time. The l'Enoteca Antica dates back to the late 1700s and its long mahogany bar is where you’d expect someone like Ernest Hemingway once pulled up a stool.
The restaurant offers an excellent selection of wine – over 1,000 vintages – and here in Rome you can buy a bottle at a restaurant and bring it back to your hotel – and surprisingly, not at inflated prices either.
We highly recommend you try the l'Enoteca Antica’s excellent antipasto selections while you soak up the huge portions of character this restaurant offers. Its floors, ceiling, marble wash basins and marble wine dispensers are all originals. You pay a cashier who sits behind a wooden cage at the entrance to the restaurant after enjoying your meal or glass of grape.
Just to add to the ambience, the l'Enoteca Antica’s walls are lined with deep shelves where brightly colored Tuscan jars sit. You can either eat at the back of the restaurant, at the bar, or at the café tables assembled in front of the l'Enoteca Antica and watch the shoppers pass buy with their bargains.