It’s said that a building’s only as good as its foundation. In Italy, you’re only as good as your shoes. In a city where Birkenstocks are only sold at religious outfitters (Jesus wore sandals), being well-shod is not a luxury, but a way of life. For the pragmatists, Via Nazionale is home to a number of larger shoe stores that boast a wide selection, quality products, and reasonable prices.

H Trancanelli, P. Cola di Rienzo 84 (06 323 45 03). This is where the young and the restless of Rome buy their shoes. A must for anyone looking to return home well-shod, but with their bank account more or less intact (shoes from ‚65). Open M 3-7:45pm, Tu-Sa 9:30am-7:45pm. AmExMCV.

Bata, V. Nazionale 88a (06 679 15 70) and V.d. Due Macelli 45 (06 482 45 29). With 250 shops in Italy and 6000 shops world-wide stocked floor to ceiling with functional, affordable shoes that look great. Bonus points for their ability to turn out shoes that look remarkably like Prada’s, but can be yours for a fraction of the price. Open M- Sa 9:30am-8pm, Su 4-8pm. AmExMCV.

Mada, V.d. Croce 57 (06 679 86 60). A very popular women’s shoe store, Mada carries conservative, classic, comfortable shoes. Located in a fashionable shopping district, its (relatively) cheap prices make it a favorite among Roman women. Shoes around ‚100. Open Tu-F 9:30am-7:30pm, Sa 9:30am-l:30pm. AmExMCV.

Elisheva, V.d. Baullari 19 (06 687 17 47), off Campo dei Fiori and P. Irnerio 41 (06 66 01 60 77), near V. Aurelia southwest of the Vatican. What’s going out in Italy without the right shoes? This small boutique solves your shoe problems with their array of sexy sandals, plus a number of daytime flats (from ‚40). Also a small selection of women’s clothing. Open Su-F 10am-8pm. AmExMCV.


@ Alcozer, V.d. Carozze 48 ( 06 679 13 88). Near P. di Spagna. Gorgeous old-world jewelry at decent prices. Earrings from ‚20; a jeweled crucifix Lucrezia Borgia would’ve been proud of for ‚65. Open M 2-7:30pm, Tu-Sa 10am-7:30pm.

K Materozzoll, P.S. Lorenzo in Lucina 5, off V.d. Corso ( 06 68 89 26 86). This old-world profumeria carries everything from the exclusive Aqua di Parma line to shaving brushes. Hard-to-find perfumes and colognes. Open M 3:30-7:30pm, Tu-Sa 10am-l:30pm and 3:30-7:30pm. Closed Aug. 10-28.

Campo Marzio Penne, V. Campo Marzio 41 (06 68 80 78 77). Fountain pens (from ‚12) and leather goods, in addition to brightly-colored journals and photo albums (from ‚25). The small address books (‚7) make great presents. Open M-Su lOam-lpm and 2-7pm.

Tedeschi Roma, V. Nazionale 106 (06 679 55 75). Good selection of luggage and other bags, convenient to Termini. Large backpacks around ‚100. Open M-F 10am- 7:30pm, Sa 10:30am-2pm. AmExMCV.

Disfunzioni Musicali, V. degli Etruschi 4 (06 446 19 84), in San Lorenzo. CDs, cassettes, and LPs available, including excellent selections of rock, avant-garde classical, jazz, and ethnic. Open M 3-8pm, Tu-Sa 10:30am-8pm.

The (Almost) Corner Bookshop, V. del Moro 45 ( 06 583 69 42), in Trastevere. The Corner Bookshop recently acquired the word almost in its title after moving a few doors down, but still maintains its hole-in-the-wall charm. They have books in English on just about every topic and can special order anything. Large children’s section. Sells early copies of Wanted in Rome. Open M-Sa 10am-l:30pm and 3:30-8pm, Su llam-l:30pm and 3:30-8pm. In Aug. closed Su. AmExMCV.

Porta Portese, in Trastevere at Porta Portese. Tram #8 from Torre Argentina. A surreal experience, with booths selling clothing, shoes, jewelry, bags, toilets, and anything else that you can imagine extending beyond the horizon at this outdoor market. Keep your money close, as this is a notorious spot for pickpockets. Open Su 5am-lpm.


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