I’ve been asked quite often recently about whether a Roman version of a charity shop actually exists. The answer is no, kind of, in a way, yes.
Charity shops are my idea of the perfect equation. Old things are handed on, making room in cupboards for new ones. The thrifty, like me, get to rummage about, finding that perfect French label in an Oxfam shop along with so many other bits and bobs that one has to buy a second-hand case as well in order to get it all home. People in our communities that might otherwise be stuck at home are out making connections and enjoying the generally good vibe that one finds in a charity shop. Sadly, they hardly exist in Italy. Blame it on the catholic vs protestant mentally if you like. If you want to meet personable older people who volunteer in the Italian version of an English or Austalian charity shop then hot foot it to the Sant’ Egidio Vintage Market (details below).
There are flea markets, and although everyone mutters that Rome’s biggest Porta Portese isn’t what it once was, there are still interesting pieces and the odd bargain to be had. We didn’t have car boot sales, really, until the Car Boot Market started up at the family friendly Città dell’ Altra Economia on rotating Sundays, where the kids can roll on the grass (or ice skate in winter) while the parents sniff around for more stuff they don’t really need. I’ve had a stall at the Car Boot Market a couple of times, and while trade is slow the atmosphere between stall holders is warm and cheerful, much like I expect it is for my Aunt Lizzie across the channel, who sells antiques at boot sales in and around London.
The dearth of charity shops in Rome has been made up for over the last ten years or so by the boom in a chain of stores called Mercatino dell’Usato all over Italy. So in attempting to round-up the names and locations of places for a good hunt and gather, I’m including a number of my favourite of these. This is my Rome list, with a few out-of-town names thrown in for good measure.
Flea markets mercato dei pulci
Porta Portese – every Sunday except for a couple in August. Between Viale Trastevere at Via Ippolito Nievo and Via Portuense near Ponte Sublicio. Everything, antiques, moderniato, junk, clothes, shoes, new rubishy electrical equipements, plants. The best part is on the Viale Trastevere end. Good linen merchant (sheets, tablecloths, nightgowns) as you enter.
Mercatino di Borghetto Flaminio, Piazza della Marina, 32, Every Sunday from 10 till 19.00. Clothes and Collectables. Café on site. Small charge to enter.
Mercatino Conca D’Oro, Via Conca D’Oro 143, 145. Saturdays and Sundays all day. An adventure into the suburbs, this is a market where I have always found something. Antiques, collectables, some food stalls, cafe. The site backs on to a park which helps.
Actual charity shops, where you feel better as you spend:
Mercatino Vintage Ecosolidale – Citta Solidale della Comunità di Sant’ Egidio, via Porto Fluviale, 2, zona Ostiense. Saturday 17.00 – 19.00, Sunday 16.30 – 20.00 tel. 06 5730 0510
Vintage moda, one of the best collections of vintage clothes, accessories and shoes I have seen. Beautifully displayed within the container like structures that make up the Citta Solidale which is a space dedicated to providing relief for the needy. All proceeds go to the various Sant’ Egidio (like St Vincet de Paul) charities, making it a win win shopping experience. Furniture and collectables too!
ENVOREGO mercatino, Via della Lungara, 141 Trastevere. This small oggetiscica based mercatino is run by volonteers from the Regina Coeili prison association.
‘Mercatini del Usato’ – this is an Italy wide chain of franchised second hand stores, there are more than twenty all over Rome. In my pre i-phone days I got around with a printout of the addresses in my handbag, the below are my favourites:
Porta Maggiore, Via Sebastiano Grandis, 7. tel 06 702 4299 open 9.30 – 20.00 7 days a week – parking. In my opinion the best in Rome, great furniture and collectables.
Monteverde, Viale dei Quattro Venti, 77. tel 06 5895258, open 9.30 – 20.00 7 days a week – no parking
Garbatella, Via Manfredo Camperio, 25 Garbatella, open 9.30 – 20.00 7 days a week. Absolutely no parking, but not far from Ostiense station and various buses.
Marconi, Via Antonio Roiti, 46, open 10 – 19.30, closed mondays
Gregorio VII, Via Ludovico Micara, 32. tel. 06 3938 8832, open 10.00 – 19.30 7 days a week – no parking
Appia, Via Appia Nuova 595. tel. 06 7814 7004, open 10.00 – 13.30, 15.30 – 20.00 7 days a week
Out of Rome:
Le Bancarelle di Campagnano di Roma, Campagnano di Roma (RM) just outside of Rome on the Via Cassia bis. Final Sunday of each month, down the main street of the town’s historic centre. If you go here then you MUST go to Iotto for lunch.
Fiera dell’Usato, Bagnoregio (VT), strada Bagnorese, km 3.100, tel 0761 790 061. Full of antique and rustic furniture. I bought various pieces here for our Lubriano house, including marble table tops for kitchen benches.
Chi Cerca Trova Montefiascone; Strada Cassia km 94, 250 just out of town going toward Viterbo. This is a lovely mercatino, more antiques / collectables store than flea market. 20th C. furniture, some vintage clothes, jewelry and more. tel. 0761 823193
Il Baule delle Nonna, S.S. Umbro Casentinese, Km 4.500 Montefiascone (Loc. Le Guardie), more junk yard than antique shop, but digging around amongst the trash to find the treasure is all the fun. This is where you find the finds.
Il Mercante in Fiera, Via XX Settembre, 8 Capranica (VT) tel 0761 660 396, on the via Cassia on the way from Rome to Viterbo. Extensive range of furniture indoor and out, terra-cotta and collectables.
No-name collectables on the road for Montepulciano, Just off the A1 Autostrada (Chuisi Chianciano) on the SP146 driving towards Chianciano Terme and Montepulciano, near the town of Macciano is the only way to describe how to reach this sprawling mainly outdoor establishment. There are no fixed opening hours and loads of junk, but also treasures for the lucky. A good one if you are looking for old doors and light fittings, with beautiful old plates to be found amongst the rain muddied piles.