A Few of My Favorite Places in Rione Monti, for National Geographic Traveler

Monti article for Nat Geo Traveler
It’s no secret that I adore Monti, the ancient rione a stone’s throw from Rome’s Colosseum and forum. Want to find out why? Pick up the April issue of National Geographic Traveler (that’s the U.S. version of the magazine), where I’ve written about some of the area’s hidden gems and hottest spots—from an ancient basilica to an artisanal gelateria. Here’s a sneak peek, but when the article goes live online, I’ll share it here, so check back. (Update, March 17: You can now read the story about Monti online!).

And stay tuned for news of an article on another fantastic Rome neighborhood, for another great travel magazine, coming soon. (What can I say, I hate to play favorites).

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In Monti, Leopardessa Goes Vintage

Vintage shoes in Leopardessa in Rome

Leopardessa, a fashion label created by longtime Rome expat Jessica Harris, already had a hole-in-the-wall location on Monti's Via Panisperna. But two months ago, it was turned into something else: a workshop for Harris' designs and a vintage store.

I happened upon the "new" Leopardessa a couple of days ago. As soon as I walked in, I felt like I'd entered a very cool grandma's closet. The classic chic (a white Izod tennis skirt, a silk red military blazer) hung next to the fun (a sunflower-yellow sleeveless onesie) and frankly outrageous (hello, gold lamé bustier!).

Leopardessa vintage store in Rome

Leopardessa vintage in Monti
But from the bold pieces to the classic, the ladies have curated their "closet" with a designer's eye for detail.

Vintage clothes in Rome

Leopardessa necklace in vintage store in Monti

Vintage bustier in shop in Monti

Mariaelena Zannini, Jessica's partner-in-crime, took me to the back room to show me what else the ladies were up to. And, yes: Jessica is still designing. And the designs look great.

Jessica Harris original designs at Leopardessa
Leopardessa is located at Via Panisperna 226 in Monti.

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Art Gallery + Clothing Boutique + Jewelry Store = Monti’s Hip “Le Talpe”

Le Talpe in Rome
Walking into Le Talpe for the first time, I wasn’t immediately sure what the place was. An art gallery? (Paintings hung on the walls). A jewelry store? (Bracelets, earrings and necklaces in different media, including bronze, lace, and silicon, were arranged here and there). A clothing shop? (Racks of trendy clothing lined the store’s side). 

The answer, of course, is that Le Talpe is all three. And then some—Le Talpe also hosts events, including readings and aperitivi. 

Le Talpe opened about a year ago on Via Panisperna in Monti, and it’s yet another example of just how hip and contemporary Rome can be. Every month, Giovanna Dughera, one of the two owners, told me, they completely switch out everything in the store, showcasing different designers, jewelers, and artists. And because it’s always a mix of artists—all of whom make creative, beautifully-crafted goods—no matter the month, the store itself is fantastic to explore.

Just check out the variety of colors and designs you can find in there right now:

Necklace at Le Talpe store in Rome


Jewelry in Le Talpe Rome


Jewelry at art gallery and shop in Monti


Bracelet at Le Talpi in Rome


Clothes at Le Talpe in Rome

Currently, artists whose work is on display (and for sale) include Francesca Caltabiano, Alessandra Fiordaliso, and Simone Bath. But if you want to get your hands on one of their headbands or jackets or purses or paintings, go now, because in a month, everything will look different.

Extra tip: If the items in the front room are a little out of your price range, head to the back room on the left, where Giovanna has items left over from the last “exhibit”—at discounts of up to 50 percent off.

Le Talpe is located at Via Panisperna 222/a. Phone: +39 064871249.

I’ve written this post as part of my initiative to support Rome’s independent stores and artisans, rather than multinational chains. Like this? You might also like my post on Via del Boschetto, an artisan-filled shopping street in Rome, or on Armando Rioda’s handmade leather goods. More to come!

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Rome’s Best Shopping Streets: Via del Boschetto

Via del Boschetto, one of the best shopping streets in Rome

Looking for the best shopping in Rome? Particularly if you’re in search of one-of-a-kind (and handmade! and stylish!) clothing and jewelry, beeline to Via del Boschetto, located an easy walk from Via Nazionale, the Roman forum, or the Colosseum.

In the heart of Rione Monti, one of Rome’s most ancient and hip neighborhoods, Via del Boschetto is packed with top-notch boutiques, artisans and ateliers, selling everything from hip clothing to handcrafted jewelry to vintage bags. The biggest surprise? At many of the stores, the pricetags are on par with what you’d find at a chain store—yet another reason to shop artisanal in Rome.

And remember: Over the next few months, I’m going to be focusing more on Rome’s unique stores, including with posts on some of my other favorite shopping streets in Rome, so stay tuned. 

Now, let’s go shopping…

Tina Sondergaard at her shop on Via del BoschettoTina Sondergaard, Via del Boschetto 1/D: The clothes at this tiny shop, all designed by Danish import Sondergaard (above), are hand-stitched and top-quality. The fabrics come from just outside Florence. Along with her whimsical-but-classy pieces, Sondergaard will create items by request—she’s made everything from costumes to wedding dresses in the past. But even her bespoke work won’t break the bank: She recently custom-made a cocktail dress for €200. Tel: +39 3343850799.

Kokoro, a clothing store and atelier in Rome on Via del BoschettoKokoro, Via del Boschetto 75: Items at this “clothing laboratory” (above) are up-to-the-minute (items change weekly) and, well, frankly fabulous, with lots of play with color, prints, and texture (hello, suede leggings!). All the items, which include purses and accessories, are original Kokoro creations. And the prices are more than reasonable. Blouses are about €40, dresses €70. Who said shopping artisanal had to cost a ton? (P.S.: Kokoro also has another location on Via della Chiesa Nuova). Tel: +39 0664760251. 

C.A.M., a boutique and atelier on Via del Boschetto MontiC.A.M., Via del Boschetto 76: The store’s name—which stands for “Classe Artigiana Monti”—gives you an idea of what the store is all about. Since 2009, Valentina Maroni and Giorgio Bacci, who met studying at the Academy of Fine Art (ABAV), have been designing and sewing their own creations here… right in the workshop in the back (below). Their designs, including lots of blouses and dresses, make classic, clean shapes contemporary with fun colors and textures, including, right now, lots of hip metallics. (Although C.A.M. is where Le Gallinelle used to be, it’s a completely separate store). Tel: +39 0648907175.

C.A.M., a clothing store and atelier on Via del boschetto Rome

Il Giardino del Tè, Via del Boschetto 107: This tea shop, the first in Rome, has been a fixture in Monti since 1998—a feat in a city of cappuccino-lovers. Even if you’re not a big tea-drinker, it’s hard not to be sucked in by the aroma. Teas range from oolong and Turkish apple to hibiscus and walnut chocolate; jams and, yes, even some coffees are on sale, too. But what I’m really lusting after is some of the china on display (below). +39 0689535176.

Lovely teapot from Il Giardino del Te on Via del Boschetto

Eliodoro, Via del Boschetto 109: Peek into the display window at Eliodoro and just try not to salivate. Precious gems as big as lemon drops make the rings look like they were stolen off of a very rich (and very hip) cardinal’s hand, while the earrings, necklaces and bracelets strike a similar classic-gone-chunky note. Rings start around €150. Tel: +39 064827486.

Le Nou, Via del Boschetto 111: This is the kind of hole-in-the-wall you could easily pass by. Don’t! The hip folks behind Le Nou design, and then handsew, trendy creations right there in the store lab. Lest you think getting something handcrafted makes it expensive, just wait: blouses start at €30. Yep, you heard me. The same price as at Zara. Tel: +39 0631056334.

Jewelry from Ashanti Gallery on Via del Boschetto

Ashanti, Via del Boschetto 117: In the 12 years that jeweller Raffaelle Cinzio has been running this jewelry-shop-cum-art-space, he’s received serious accolades, like a mark of excellence for artisanship from the region of Lazio. Not that it’s any surprise: Raffaelle’s jewelry, handcrafted from silver, bronze, and gold in his workspace at the back of Ashanti Galleria, manages to be both exquisite and funky, much of it with a cool, androgynous tone (above). Contemporary paintings by artists, most of them Italian, hang on the walls. Sound too upmarket for your wallet? Actually, Raffaelle’s jewelry starts at €45 a pop, and the works of art at €100. Tel: +39 064884203.

Pulp, a great clothing store in RomePulp, Via del Boschetto 140: This is a store with a serious cult following—and with reason. The boutique (above) sells not only colorful, funky vintage clothing and accessories, but vintage pieces that have been reworked by the owner, Fabrizio, to be both a) better-quality (no holes or tears here!) and b) even more hip. That’s not to mention the clothes that Fabrizio designs and creates from scratch. The overall effect? Fun (and sustainable!) fashion at a reasonable price. There’s a big collection of bags, shoes, and sunglasses here, too (below). +39 06485511.

At Pulp, a vintage store and atelier on Via del boschetto in Rome 

Galleria d’Arte di Jullo, Via del Boschetto 141: Animal-lovers find themselves arrested by the display of this small, elegant gallery with its lovely oil paintings, sketches, and engravings of wild horses—all original creations by Italian artist Roberto di Jullo. Tel: +39 1919027. 

Di Jullo gallery on Via del boschetto Rome

Fabio Piccione, Via del Boschetto 148: Walking into this store is like diving into Grandma’s treasure chest. Jewelry from every decade of the 20th century have been repaired by the owner, Fabio Piccione, and resold at excellent prices. For costume-jewelry and vintage junkies, there’s no better bet for bangles. Tel: +39  064741697.

Want more tips about where to find the best shopping, and much more, in the Eternal City? Check out The Revealed Rome Handbook: Tips and Tricks for Exploring the Eternal City, available for purchase on Amazon, below, or through my site here!

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