Someone recently pointed out to me (Fr. Greg) that our Shopping in Rome section was terribly out-of-date. Today is September 9, 2009 and having just come from the Bank, I know that this is NOT a good time to go shopping in Italy or Europe if you are an American. The exchange rate today is $1.45 per 1 Euro. And the cost of living itself has been going up here in Italy. So shop for those souvenirs and gifts to bring home, but do so carefully. Remember that the beautiful glass bottle you are buying in Venice may only cost 100 Euros, but when you get home your credit card bill will inform you that you bought a $145 souvenir.
Even though the dollar/euro exchange is not to your advantage these days, do not make that an excuse for not coming here. Italy is still the most beautiful, exciting, historical and fun-tastic place to visit and if you pay attention to what you are buying you will be okay. Plus, remember that you are entitled to a Tax Refund on all merchandise that you purchase during your visit (approximately 13% re-imbursement over 150,00 euro purchases). You need to bring a copy of your passport when shopping since you will be asked to fill out a form with your personal data as well as your passport number.
Rome is famous for its fashion boutiques, wine shops, antiques, leather and jewelry. The most important shopping area is located in the Piazza di Spagna (Spanish Steps) area, from the Via Condotti to Via Borgognona and Via del Balbuino.
Most shops are open from 10:00 AM to 7:30 PM except Mondays (when they open at 3:30 PM and close at 7:30 PM). Only a few still close for a couple of hours in the afternoon.