A moveable feast: food souvenirs
Best for: foodies, friends, hostess gift
A food souvenir is probably what best defines the Eternal City, as most Romans will tell you. There's nothing more quintessentially Roman than a half kilo of Pecorino Romano (the cheese used in cacio e pepe pasta); olive oil from the nearby region of Sabina; or a bottle of Cesanese Rosato, a wine homegrown in Olevano Romano, a small town southeast of the city. It's best to avoid supermarkets and cliches (balsamic vinegar is from a different region), and instead seek out true Roman products from food and wine specialty stores and markets. Pro tip: Look out for DOP (Protected Designation of Origin) labels on packaging.
The daily grind: coffee souvenirs
Best for: foodies, friends, hipsters, parents
Romans love the morning espresso, and the city is peppered with iconic and unforgettable stand-up coffee bars selling the perfect shot. Not only does a kilo bag of coffee—cicchi (beans) or maccinato (ground)—bring a smile to your face with its enchanting smell, some of Rome’s coffee shops also sell collectable tins with early 20th-century designs, along with other coffee accessories.
Craftwork: artisan souvenirs
Best for: Etsy fans, aunts, friends
Italians are artists of all kinds, and the craftiest are those who continue to produce unique and inimitable works of art that are also functional. Rome’s local designers and independent artisans are quietly creating an artsy army, coming together to showcase their one-of-kind, only-in-Rome clothing, handbags, jewelry, accessories, and more. Talk to them—these are the souvenirs that tell stories you can wear.
Tchotchke, knick-knack, oh my: kitsch souvenirs
Best for: teens, kitsch collectors, hostess gift
Pick any major piazza or monument and you’ll find souvenir stands filled with tchotchke—you know, those random flags, postcards, and statuettes. But don’t walk away, you’ll want to peruse the stand for bobble heads, in particular Pope and Totti figures, the two main gods of Rome. And if you’re lucky, you’ll find the coveted "Popener," a bottle opener with the Pope’s portrait.
A piece of the past: antiquity-themed souvenirs
Best for: kids, teens, in-laws, hostess gift
Admit it. You love a gladiator costume and you can’t get enough of the Cave Canem (Beware of the Dog) mosaic simulation. Rome is elbow-to-elbow with antiquity-themed souvenir shops, so the trick is finding boutiques that focus on actual mosaics and mosaic making, and souvenir shops with viable reproductions of Roman finds—from games and swords to Roman-inspired homewares.
More ways to explore Rome