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The interlocking cobblestones of Via Giulia were laid 500 years ago, commissioned by Pope Julius II along with the grand palazzos that flank it. Today, one of these palazzos houses the Hotel Indigo Rome – St. George, which retains its original 16th-century brickwork on the outside with an updated, whimsical Italian design on the inside.
You’ll find a similar marriage of antique detail and contemporary design in the historic streets extending out from the hotel toward the ancient Piazza Navona. A hub for artists, designers, and artisans, the neighbourhood offers covetable modern innovations that demonstrate a great respect for centuries of Italian craftsmanship. Here are five independent boutiques that you can’t miss:
Magie di Casa (Via Giulia, 140C) Down Via Giulia, behind a similarly distinguished stone façade, Magie di Casa has custom lines of fine bedding, scarves, and hand-loomed linen. Owner Alessia Sarandrea incorporates traditional filigree and lace into her luxurious designs, but her use of chic colours and bold motifs suggests a nod towards current trends. The boutique’s more-is-more layout demands about as much time as the Colosseum.
Retropose (Via del Pellegrino, 60) With their line of handbags and accessories, Roman designers Federica Cremisini and Giulia Mitarotonda have perpetuated Italy’s reputation for high-quality leather with an added avant-garde flair. Located amidst the indie boutiques of Via del Pellegrino, Retropose features slick, streamlined bags in geometric shapes with handcrafted leather spikes and scallops. They also design unusual bracelets and neckwear with the offcuts. The shop, befitting of its wares, boasts a modern colour scheme: white walls, black rafters, and a leather palette of ebony and ivory—with shots of cobalt blue.
Society Limonta (Piazza di Pasquino) This Roman satellite of the well-known designer linens brand practically invented “home couture” for its Milan flagship. Each year, the team in Rome devises new colours and textures for its luxurious linens and upholsteries. The boutique itself, stacked generously with dreamy throws and cushions, occupies an old upholsterer’s studio. Fashion-world architect Ferrucio Laviani preserved the 16th-century arches and restored the antique stucco and marble, but gave it an all-white update, with streamlined ceiling beams and pristine curtains that allow the products to shine.
Delfina Delettrez (Via del Governo Vecchio, 67) The Fendi heiress and resident Roman chose this bijou space as the first standalone shop for namesake brand. The shop, decked out emerald-green against creamy cabinetry, makes a cosy home for her surreal jewellery: Picasso eyes, pouty lips, and graceful alabaster ears. Delettrez’s oeuvre is undeniably fashion-forward, but her background in fine goldsmithing lends a classic quality that reflects the city that she calls home. The mere fact that she’s maintained an atelier here, rather than fleeing for the ritzier shopping enclave near the Spanish Steps, speaks volumes about the rich history and future of the neighbourhood.
Pineider (Via della Fontanella Borghese, 22) Follow the Tiber River east and you’ll hit the pin-straight Via di Monte Brianzo, which leads to Pineider, a household name in Italian stationery. Originally started in Florence, the 250-year-old company hand-crafts, hand-colours, and hand-engraves its paper using techniques developed by Francesco Pineider in the 1700s. Although there are two storefronts in Rome, this particular venue features an arched stone exterior that serves as an old-school foil for the fresh, modern interior. In addition to the stationery kits, there are Florentine leather leather bags, in next season’s colours, propped up on streamlined furnishings.