With a city that holds as much history as Rome, it’s no surprise that the past is also found in its shopping, or treasure hunting as I like to call it. The city is jam-packed with vintage and second hand shops that hold as much mystery, magic, and appeal as the tales of Rome itself. Enjoy the thrill of the chase of sifting through racks, and walk out of the shop with a truly unique item, creating a new story for both you and your new treasure. That’s the joy of vintage shopping. We’ve trotted the cobblestone streets and made our way through the buckets and racks to bring you a complete list of the best vintage stores in Rome. Let’s shop till we drop!
1. Twice Vintage Shop
You’ll find a truly comprehensive selection of merchandise, all keeping up with the modern trends from rustic American to high-end designer. From trendy and functional sportswear, military gear to preppy sundresses, Twice puts in the hours in selecting the right merchandise for their customers.
When asked about their “unique factor”, cheerful Brando smiled and said:
“There is a different style here. It’s not a shop of just the 60’s, 70’s, or 80’s. There are clothes and accessories for every age and style from sports to work. Trends are cyclical, and we keep up with the modern looks created with pieces
from the past.”
A tiny space with big character, Wynwood opened about five years ago. It’s an artistic blend of one-of-a-kind handmade pieces by the owner, and vintage pieces she’s collected. Her handmade items are shown with a specific removable tag, and explain that there is only one of its kind.
Her vintage pieces are simplistic yet classic and go perfectly for work or a night out with your gal pals. Mixed in the organized racks are pops of color, intriguing patterns, and a vintage chicness that will transport you to Paris circa 1940’s/1950’s. One of their employees took a break from styling a customer to speak with me for a few minutes. With a giant smile of her face and an evident passion for her job, she said:
“There is a mix of of tourists and locals that come in here, but I really enjoy speaking with the tourists and discovering their different tastes. It’s a beautiful thing to discover what they like.”
3. Omero & Cecilia Vestiti Vecchi
The name of the shop explains it all – vestiti vecchi means old clothes. Husband and wife, Omero and Cecilia, don’t just collect used clothes, they hunt and gather old wearable art with styles that simply cannot be found in mainstream shops nowadays.
Walking into the shop you are greeted by Omero sipping on an espresso at his back desk, possibly with a cigarette dangling from his lips (although he always asks if it bothers you first). Your eyes don’t know which direction to focus on first; there’s the ground with the vintage handmade shoes or look up to the racks full of dresses, shirts, and military gear. In addition the walls are lined with designer gowns and hand sewn leather bags. In telling me about Omero’s trip to Texas years ago and the inspiration he drew from the rustic American style, Cecilia chuckled and said, “Yes, he’s the only cowboy in Rome”.
“Amore, vieni qui,” (honey, come here) he shouted to me with the cigarette still glued to his lips. He wanted to show me one of his favorite pieces in the shop- a Gucci bag with brass accents, hand sewn from the 1950’s.
“Now the younger generations don’t come in here that often because they don’t recognize the style. We don’t show brands, we show looks, we show styles. Now Gucci bags are recognizable only by the label thrown across the bags. This is different. This is something that you can’t find anymore. We know because we are older and have the styles of the past. Adesso non c’é la cultura, amore mio ”. (There isn’t the culture anymore sweetie.)
I particularly love the vintage hats and leather luggage collection.
4. Cinzia Vestiti Usati
Cinzia studied fashion design and opened this eclectic showcase in the 80’s with her husband Elio. Beaming with pride at his wife’s creation, he told me that she is a bit “fuori di testa” (out of her mind). Seeing the expression on his face, I knew that this was an endearing way to describe her unique style.
Not a space goes uncovered with their vibrant selection of clothes and accessories, all chosen from various warehouses and markets in Italy. Blazers, cocktail dresses, athletic gear, high-end designers are mixed in with no-label pieces. You can even find miscellaneous home décor in the back room!
Walking me around his shop he stopped near a rack of dresses and told me he had to explain something very important:
“I love the relationship between the customer and the piece. When they find a dress from let’s say the 60’s, and you see their expression and you’re able to remember the original story of the piece and then create your own story with it, I get goosebumps. It’s not important if they buy it or not, that’s doesn’t matter. What’s important is the experience.”
And it goes without saying, your experience will be quite memorable at Cinzia.
5. Porta Portese Flea Market
This isn’t so much one shop as it is a glorious collision of all of your vintage dreams. Every Sunday, the biggest flea market in Rome puts on a show of thousands of stalls! Selling everything from vintage clothes (mix of generic t-shirts to beautiful gowns), household products, jewelry and accessories, designer knock-offs and miscellaneous treasures.
Although I have found tons of high quality, low price pieces here, my favorite is a perfectly baggy cashmere cardigan with leather argyle detail that I bought for €5. For the best deals and smallest crowds, get there first thing in the morning or right before they close up. As is true for any crowded area in a city, keep an eye on your belongings.
6. King Size Vintage
Starting from just a great vision and a booth at Porta Portese, King Size is a massive collection of vintage men’s and women’s wear and accessories. Their research and gathering from European vintage markets, as well as incorporating a West Coast American flare has seen King Size happily making the dream of vintage lovers come true for about seven years. Their focus is on pieces starting from the mid-1940’s and ending in the first half of the 90’s. One proud employee proudly boasted about his favorite part of his job.
“Searching for the merchandise,” he said without hesitation. “We go to markets in and out of Italy and carefully hand select each item in the store. When someone sees something you’ve picked out and they walk out with a great piece that has a unique look and story, it’s a great feeling.”