Michael Bublè’s latest record, Steve Jobs’ biography, Zafon novels for the adults, toy helicopter and dolls house for kids. These seem to be the most sought after gifts for Christmas in Rome this year. And despite the economic and financial crisis, sales should hold and be in line with last few years, according to the first surveys.
But we can’t start an article about Christmas shopping in Rome without mentioning the city’s most famous season Market, in Navona square, a fixture of the Roman Christmas shopping for the last 100 years. Open until 1am, it mostly hosts sweet and toy stalls and features an old-style merry-go-round. Particularly crowded on January 6 for the Epiphany. Outside the Auditorium/Parco della Musica compound there is a Christmas village, with many activities especially geared for children such as the ice-skating rink, and a historical merry-go-round. For shopaholics there is a rather exclusive Christmas Fair with an interesting range of sophisticated crafts on sale. Auditorium’s Christmas Village also features over 30 food and sweet stalls, lots of performances and season’s music concerts, exhibitions and puppet shows until January 8. Many other Christmas villages can be found in Rome. The biggest ones are in Parco Leonardo, the only mall of the Rome area that you can reach by city train, from December 10 to January 8, one hundred Christams tree will decorate an open-air alley with typical food products on sale, whereas in Tor di Quinto, northern Rome, not far from the Auditorium, there will be a Christmas Village with wood huts around the Ice Park, and some food stalls and local products on sale in the market. Until December 18 Villa Borghese, Rome’s largest downtown park, will host Chocomoments, a Christmas Chocolate fair with hand-made chocolate, workshops and a Babyciok space for kids in the afternoon.
But our favorite Rome’s typical Christmas food product is Pangiallo, a hard cake made with nuts, candied fruit and honey. Rome’s most famous is on sale at Colapicchioni bakery (76, Via Tacito – Prati area), otherwise go to Valzani (37, Via del Moro – Trastevere). But we also love the spicy version, Panpepato, with the addition of chili and chocolate! For the recipe, give a look at this interesting story. The best hand-made Panettone of Rome (panettone has now become a national Christmas cake, but it originated in Milan) can be bought at Roscioli bakery (34, Via dei Chiavari – near Navona square) or at Cristalli di Zucchero (88, via San Teodoro – near the Roman Forum).
Another mandatory stop during the Christmas shopping are toy shops. If you are in downtown Rome, you can’t miss Città del Sole (65, Via della scrofa) with a wide selection of games, toys and gadgets, Bartolucci (98, via dei Pastini) where you can find dozens of hand-made wooden toys such as Pinocchio or Il Pesciolino Rosso, the newly-inaugurated shop between the Spanish steps and via del Corso (49, Via Bocca di Leone), selling toys with natural colors and healthy materials coming especially from Northern Europe. The most beautiful, expensive and biggest teddy bears and other animal stuff toys are on sale at Al Sogno (53, Navona Square). More than just a toy shop, but rather a comprehensive playing space is Imaginarium (138/139, Via Frattina) where you can buy KicoNico puppets, BB Coscmos and Circus products and technology and science games designed by the European Space Agency. Near the Cipro/Musei Vaticani underground stop you can find Designer Toyz at Urban Toys (40/42, via Ruggero Fiore): on sale Blind Boxes, Art Toys such as Qee and Ugglydolls, and other characters by Tokidoki.