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Neighbourhood Guide: Centro Storico, Rome

Once realm of the centurions, now the Pantheon’s cobbled environs are flush with irony-free sock n’ gladiator sandal combos, but we know exactly how to avoid them… by shopping, of course!

Start northwest of the ancient Roman Dome at curious and curiouser grown ups’ wunderkammer toy shop Eclectica for a good root n’ rummage through antique figurines, bronze heads, military regalia and a hoard of random trinkets and treasures. If you’re looking for something in particular, ask. They will know where to find it.

From here, follow your nose to nearby Piazza di Pietra, where Turin’s famed fragrance-maker Laura Tonatto has perfumed an all-star roster of names and fashion houses including the Queen of England and Armani. Choose from her wide range of RTW collections or go bespoke.

Aroma arranged, bear south past Sant’Ignazio Church on your left (above, photo by Claudio Zaccherini) . If frescoes are your bread and butter then pop in for a quick look up, otherwise tarry not to Moriondo & Gariglio – seasonal homemade chocs and confectionary as approved by the Italian prez, from marron glacé in winter to sugar violets in spring. Squisito!

Close enough you can smell the skins you’ll find Federico Polidori, purveyor of deeply lovely, simple belts, bags, briefcases and sporting goods, all made to order from heavy golden hides and hand sewn by the leather goods god himself.

Continue along, giving the Pantheon as wide a berth as Julius should have given Brutus, until you reach Antica Cartotecnica. Putting pencil to paper since 1930, this fam-run stationary shop proves that the writing implement really is mightier than the sword. Vintage nibs and made-in-Italy blotters make for the perfect memento, and who knows? You might just be the next Virgil.

In need of a quick java jolt? Nip next door to Caffè Sant’Eustachio, before sneaking a slight detour for Piazza Navona apothecary Ai Monasteri, brewing monk-made mixtures of fruit and floral liqueurs, soaps, oils, jams, ointments, remedies, elixirs and love potions with a loyal local following. Oh, brother!

Now, have a swig on that elixir of life before you expire and eyes ahead to the boutique that beckons, Monocle Eyewear. This spec-tacular white box focuses on hard-to-find sunnies from the likes of Lucas de Stael, Margiela, Kubouram, Cutler and Gross + Thierry Lasry among others. Just watch where you’re browsing, lest you bump into a Bellucci!

Eclectica, Via in Aquiro, 70, Pantheon, Rome. +39 06 678 4228, facebook: @eclecticamagic

Laura Tonatto, Piazza di Pietra, 41, Pantheon, Rome, +39 06 6979 7625,

Moriondo & Gariglio, Via del Pie’ di Marmo, 21, Pantheon, Rome, +39 06 6699 0856,

Federico Polidori, Via del Pie’ di Marmo, 7, Pantheon, Rome, +39 06 679 7191,

Antica Cartotecnica, Piazza dei Caprettari, 61, Pantheon, Rome, +39 06 687 5671,

Ai Monasteri, Corso Rinascimento, 72, Pantheon, Rome, +39 06 6880 2783,

Monocle Eyewear, Via di Campo Marzio, 13, Pantheon, Rome. +39 06 683 3668, facebook: @MonocleEyewear

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