This article is part of a guide to Rome from FT Globetrotter
Fine jewellery and fragrances have a long association with Rome and Italy— “signature” scents and iconic jewel designs are part of many of the city’s world-beating luxury houses (think Bulgari, for instance, and its green tea eau de cologne might pop up in your mind before, say, the famous B.Zero1 ring). But, as with fashion and accessories, many of the city’s most interesting makers and blenders are to be found well off the familiar Via Condotti/Via del Babuino route. Below are the places where you’ll score the rare and unusual things, made by people with the time and the inclination to tell their stories.
Besides being a gentleman of impeccable comportment (which is why his contact details are in the phones of tutta roma bene), Fabio Salini creates unique and limited-edition jewels whose lines merge elegance with unusual dynamism. Carbon, jute rope and other unorthodox materials make appearances alongside metals and stones of the highest quality. A ring of intertwined gold bands and black-leather cord is the most striking, and treasured, piece of jewellery I own.
With a similarly contemporary spirit to Salini but a completely singular aesthetic, Lucia Odescalchi works in resin and silicone as well as with conventional metals and gems. The aesthetically retiring should look elsewhere: hers are (gorgeous) statement pieces through and through, with chokers, drop earrings and cuffs that dazzle with their ingenious engineering. Her shop on the Via dell’Oca — tiny and deliciously dim — is one of the few I’ve found that actually merits the “jewel box” descriptor.
The unorthodox takes on delicate and classic jewellery forms that make up Delfina Delettrez’s eponymous line have garnered her a fan base that spans the US, Brazil and Australia. Yes, it’s available in limited editions on luxury retail websites and elsewhere, but at her shop opposite the Piazza de’ Ricci, you can explore the full range of her creativity (and stroll across the square to Pierluigi after your retail indulgences, for a plate of catalana and a glass of something lovely from owner Lorenzo Lisi’s expansive cellars).
If fine jewellery — and its attendant prices — is more than what you’re in the market for, make for the atmospheric, ivy-draped home of cult favourite Percossi Papi. Baroque, extravagant, quintessentially feminine (though he does a smart line of cufflinks too), Diego Percossi Papi’s designs feature ornate combinations of seed pearls and enamel, small gems and coral, quartzes and even antique coins.
Aficionados of Marie-Louise Sciò’s Pellicano and Mezzatorre hotels will already be familiar with LabSolue’s products, via the shampoos, bath gels and lotions with which Sciò fills the hotels’ bathrooms. Created by perfumer sisters Giorgia and Ambra Martone, the core collection consists of eaux de parfum, candle and home fragrance that span woods, resins, flowering plants, fruits and aromatics: Timo (thyme), Lavanda (lavender), Rosmarino (rosemary), Zagara (Sicilian orange blossom) and more. You choose your size and packaging from among the beautiful brown apothecary bottles, so there’s a semi-customised element to every purchase.
In 2002, Antonio and Carla Sersale, owners of Positano’s Le Sirenuse, asked their Roman cousin Marina and her husband Sebastián to create a scent for the hotel — one that would evoke their shared olfactory memories of hot cotto tiles, wild herbs and the tang of the Tyrrhenian; thus was born Eau d’Italie. Eighteen years later, the brand offers more than a dozen scents. The one-room shop on the Via della Penna is overseen by a dynamic staff who’ll happily spend half an hour or more parsing top notes with you.
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