Shopping in Rome, Part 1: An Old Cinema Gets a New, Chic Life

I remember when the U.S. dollar was at an all-time low against the euro. That’s not the case today: the exchange rate is comparably quite favorable to the dollar. So, if you have any significant shopping planned, you may want to do some research.

Laura needed a new wallet, and decided upon the Louis Vuitton “Sarah.” I didn’t know what this meant but dutifully went with it.

This particular wallet was for sale from the official LV website in the United States for $700. Instead, when we were in Rome, we headed to the Louis Vuitton flagship store on the lovely Piazza San Lorenzo in Lucina, which I described in my last post.

Though I’m not into shopping for ladies’ wallets, I have to say, this was an enjoyable experience.

The Louis Vuitton Etoiles Roma store takes up a large building that was Rome’s first movie theater. We watched with interest when the building, which had been sitting empty for years, was being renovated. Well, they did a great job.

The Louis Vuitton flagship store in Rome

As we entered the store, an art installation in the foyer caught our eye. It initially looked like patterned fabric but was actually made up of tiny images.

Extreme close-up of the art installation in the entry

This art piece was a witty nod to the the store’s history. Beyond this, the store has kept a small movie theater.

While we were there, we watched some short films (subtitled in various languages) about artists, including William Kentridge, who has done a fabulous series of murals along the Tiber.

The little movie theater…


… in action

The store itself is enormous, bright, and airy.

Inside the old movie theater


Three stories of shopping


And, a wall of LV luggage

The salespeople were all very friendly — indeed, quite chatty. As one usually finds in high-end shops in Rome, they were all young, trim, good looking, and well attired.

At one point, we had five people helping us, which I guess is the minimum number needed to ring up a sale. I assume a larger sale would have required more people — maybe there is an algorithm involved?

We were given the option of paying in euros or dollars. You would think it would make little difference (since our credit card doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees), but it can. I made sure we chose the local currency.

But, that told us what the U.S. dollar charge would be in Rome: $534. That’s a nice savings from the $700 charged in the States.

The helpful salespeople also did the paperwork for us to get back the Value Added Tax, which ultimately reduced our cost even further. More on that in a later post.