Of late souvenir shops have been springing up like mushrooms after a rain storm, many of which are run by the same people who make the items for sale – the Chinese. Unfortunately the shops they replace are the old family run businesses that give the city its character and save it from become one giant tourist trap.
Enough ranting! Everyone likes to take home a few knickknacks whether it is a plastic Colosseum, a “Dogs of Rome” calendar or a marble bust of Julius Caesar. Regarding the later there are some high end souvenirs available that are made in moulds from marble dust. (Don’t get sold on any spiel that it is a unique hand carved piece). If you are with 6 to 11 year olds a good idea is to stop off in a souvenir shops before going into an Ancient Rome site and kit your kids out with a set of armour. It will really get them into the mood for a day of seeing “old stuff”.
Another great place for something to remember your trip by is a painting or caricature from a street artist in Piazza Navona. The competition is fierce so do not be afraid of driving a hard bargain.
Finally, most of the stalls on the streets are fairly priced, all of which sell everyone’s favourite a Rome “then and now” book. The price is printed on the back so remove any price stickers that have been placed over it. Moreover, most sellers will give a discount, so haggle.
Sisters of Catherine of Siena - Inside St. Peter’s precinct near the dome queue
If you have hired a guide, which we highly recommend, be aware that some guides are on kickbacks from souvenir shops especially in and around the Vatican. If you are buying a rosary, iSpyGuides recommends that you by one, and any other religious item, from the Order of St. Catherine of Siena, who are located at the Basilica exit of the Vatican Museums. Your money will be used for good work on their missions and we rightly do not get any of it.