Finding the perfect present for everyone on your Christmas list can be a challenge. To help I’ve selected a few of my favourite gifts that any Rome lover would be thrilled to unwrap on the big day. From museum memorabilia to animal-inspired artwork, these gifts all come from Rome-based companies, creatives, or artisans, and are all available to purchase from outside Italy.
Roman Gal Cat Artwork
Just when you thought Rome couldn’t be any more charming, along comes Roman Gal Elisa Colarossi and her delightful illustrations. Her drawings depict the city’s most famous monuments, as well as everyday scenes like playing cards at the bar or enjoying a slice of pizza al taglio. The best bit? Elisa’s black cat Stanis is the adorable protagonist of these Roman adventures.
Jenni Oh Crafts
Born in the Philippines, raised in Australia, and now residing in Rome, Jenni Oh makes handsome, rustic and sometimes surprisingly shaped pottery. Her ceramic creations add beauty to the everyday – which, I think, is a great way to approach gift-giving. Why not make someone’s coffee break extra special with one-of-a-kind espresso cups or a handcrafted, geometric designed mug? The online shop sells kitchenware, vases, plant pots, and other pottery items at a range of prices.
One of Rome’s best-known coffee bars, Sant’Eustachio has been a fixture in the centro storico since 1938. An espresso here comes pre-sweetened with a spoonful of thick, sugary, coffee-flavoured foam and is a caffeine hit enjoyed by everyone from tourists to taxi drivers. Pick up a tin of coffee beans, a stovetop moka pot, or a Sant’Eustachio coffee cup in the online store to recreate those old-school Italian coffee bar vibes at home. European shipping (outside Italy) is €20 but, if you’re in the UK, check out the shelves at Marks & Spencer as I’ve seen Sant’Eustachio coffee stocked there in recent years.
Romewise 2021 Calendar
Elyssa Bernard has lived in Rome for almost 20 years and has poured a vast amount of knowledge into her comprehensive site, Romewise. Her scenic shots feature in the Romewise 2021 calendar and will take you on a tour of sights such as St Peter’s, the Pantheon, and Piazza Navona – helping soften the blow of not being able to visit in person right now.
Museums and galleries are currently closed due to Covid-19 and, as a result, many of Italy’s cultural institutions are struggling. Wouldn’t it be great if there was another way to support them? Hats off to the Keats-Shelley House, one of the only museums in Rome that has an online gift shop. The selection is limited but a trusty tote bag or commemorative mug are solid choices for literary lovers.
Midnight In The Piazza Kids’ Book
Full of stomping adventures around piazzas, fountains and grandiose palaces, Midnight in the Piazza tells the story of thirteen-year-old Beatrice who witnesses an art heist just days after moving to Rome from the US. When no one believes her story, Beatrice sets out to solve the crime herself. Midnight in the Piazza is Tiffany Parks’ first novel and is recommended for young readers aged 8-12.
Rome has long been an inspiration to artists – and not just Renaissance painters and Baroque sculptors, either. A number of jewellery artisans are taking cues from the city’s sights and scenes to create gorgeous wearable artworks. I’ve mentioned Co.Ro’s geometric pieces before (who wouldn’t want to unwrap aqueduct-shaped earrings on Christmas Day?) and, if you really want to splash out, Gioielleria Licciardello’s Colosseum ring is p-retty fancy. I also love the idea behind Célestine’s Caffarella collection, which features earrings, necklaces, bookmarks and other precious objects imprinted with grasses and flowers picked in Caffarella Park.
Virtual Tours and Online Talks
If you can’t come to Rome then make Rome come to you with the help of master tour guide Agnes Crawford. Otherwise known as Understanding Rome, Agnes is an architectural expert, history buff, and all-round expert of the Eternal City. Topics for her December talks include Bernini and his sculptures, emperor Caligula’s ships, and the Torlonia Marbles. On 23rd December, she’s also hosting a 30-min online Christmas Card from Rome, which promises nativity scenes and ‘general festivity’.
Five Quarters Cookbook
If you’re even the slightest bit into Italian food, you probably don’t need me to tell you to get this. Rachel Roddy’s first book came out in 2015 but is still a regular help to me when I need some gentle advice on cooking the Roman classics (I sort of know what I’m doing but there’s always room for improvement). As well as easy-to-follow recipes that bring out the best in a few simple ingredients, Five Quarters also features Rachel’s lovely writing about Rome and its culinary traditions. Known as My Kitchen in Rome in the US.
With all the shopping, gift-giving, and general craziness that December brings, it’s easy to forget the true meaning of Christmas – food. One of my own festive traditions is to visit Latteria Studio for their yearly Christmas pop-up shop to stock up on edible treasures, but with that out the window – hopefully, we’ll see Latteria back in action soon! – I recommend a class from cookery teacher Carla Tomasi. Her online classes follow a similar theme to those she offered at Latteria, which means wholesome Italian dishes you thought you couldn’t cook at home but, with a little friendly guidance, actually can.