Fabric Hunting: Rome – In Search Of Inspiration

fabric hunting rome

Fabric Hunting: Rome – In Search Of Inspiration… is a project I absolutely loved putting together.  Rome is one of my favorite cities, not just because of the fascinating history, beautiful architecture and cultured people, but also for its rich fabric and leather works.  This fabric hunt was like a childhood game of treasure hunting since the stores are located among ancient ruins and grand avenues.  I have my top three picks to share with you below.

In Rome, every turn you take, every building, every view reminds you that great things happened here, and we would all do better to remember our history lessons.  The ruins peppered around the city are a clear reminder that people have been here even before they called themselves Romans.  If you love history, there are few cities that can compare, few cities that can teach you so much on the wide streets, stones bridges, amphitheaters, cathedrals, and imposing architecture as Rome can.

A Bit Of Geography

Rome lays on the shores of the Tiber River which flows on into the Tyrrhenian Sea (which is within the Mediterranean Sea).  The ancient city was originally founded on seven hills; the most famous being the Capitoline and Palatine hills.  The modern Comune of Rome covers an overall area of about 500 square miles (1,285 square kilometers).

A Bit Of History

When I say a bit of history, I meant it literally – to even summarise the history of Rome, one of the longest continually inhabited cities in Europe, would be way too much to tell in one post.  Our oldest archeological records show evidence of human occupation of the Rome area from approximately 14,000 years ago, stone tools and pottery in the area of the seven hills date back to about 10,000 years ago.  Most experts agree that the ancient city was the product of the merging of several agricultural towns, one on the Palatine Hill itself, becoming an “urban” city in the mid 8th century (the birth of Rome).

We have two traditional legends of the foundation of Rome, handed down by the Romans themselves.  The first, and by far the most famous roman legend is the story of Romulus and Remus, the twins who were suckled by a she-wolf.  After their unusual upbringing, they decided to build a city, but after an argument, Romulus killed his brother and named the city after himself.  According to tradition, this took place on April 21, 753 BC.  The second legend, set in an earlier time, tells of the Trojan refugee Aeneas and his escape to Italy (after the fall of legendary Troy) and how he through his son Iulus founded the line of Romans who would build the original kingdom.

Eventually, the city became the capital of the Roman Kingdom, the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire, it is known as one of the birthplaces of Western civilization.  It was dubbed The Eternal City in the 1st century BC, as well as the “Caput Mundi” (Capital of the World).  Even today we still look to Rome, now not as the heart of an empire, but as one of the greatest historical sites, architectural marvels, and seat of the Vatican.

A Bit Of Architecture And Best Sights

Roman architecture finds its foundation on the Greeks way of construction colonnades, open-air stadiums, mausoleums, and monumental tombs.  The Romans created their own architectural style many of the building still standing today.  Rome was one of the birthplaces of the Renaissance and spawned the Baroque style and Neoclassicism.

The Colosseum

The Aqueduct

Saint Peter's Basilica

The Vatican Museum

Sistine Chapel

Other Sights

Fabric Hunting: Rome

I visited three stores while in Rome, I bought silk, wool, and linen because they are some of the very best in the world.  Italy supplies to the haute couture houses and to the best brands around the world.  A silk blouse from the region of Como can last three or more decades if you take care of it.  A wool suit can literally last a lifetime.

My first stops are not far from where I am staying, in fact, almost all the fabric shops are between 5 to 20 minutes from one another.  I am heading to one of the oldest in town; The Azienda Tessile Romana, which happens to be located in front of the archeological site where Julius Caesar was killed (and the home to hundreds of cats but my daughter and I only counted 23).

Fabric Hunting-Rome

Fabric Hunting-Rome

The Azienda Tessile Romana was founded in 1917 in Naples and after WWII it moved to Rome.  This Alibaba's cave has a collection of fabrics to get lost in admiration for hours and hours.  Cotton, silk, wool, linens, embroidered tulles, taffetas, organzas, and the most beautiful damask I've ever seen, plus everything else you can think off.  But what I was most impressed by was the very attentive, helpful and knowledgeable service. I know I will have to go back.  Have a look below at my pictures, because as they say “pictures tell a thousand words”.

Bassetti Tessuti

When I visited Bassetti Tessuti they were on their way to move to a new location, so a great part of the store has already been packed.  From September 2019 you can find this lovely fabric store at Via Delle Botteghe Oscure, 51.  At the time of my visit, I saw this half-packed, yet wonderful place filled from floor to ceiling of the most fantastic collection of fabrics from all over Italy and the world.

Bassetti Tessuti was founded in 1954 by Lorenzo Bassetti.  He used to bring vegetables in his cart from a nearby village into Rome.  He would sell his produce from door to door, and one day decided to add textiles to his array of choices.  Soon the ladies of the house would start to order more fabric than vegetables and so he began his textile business.  Today the store is owned and managed by Federico and Massimo Bassetti who are very happy to show you around the store.

The fabrics in this huge store have been used in several films such as “My Old Lady”, “Pirates of the Caribbean”, “Penny Dreadful” and many theatre productions.  This is another place well worth spending a few hours of looking around, just that will give you tons of inspiration.  I did that, then went back to the hotel and made some drawings from that inspiration. Later I returned to the store and asked for something similar to my design and I was very pleased with the number of choices there were.  I was particularly impressed with the haute couture and wedding dress fabric choices.

Casa del Tessuto

Casa del Tessuto was founded in 1927 and it is still a family business.   This busy shop was only a few minutes away from Bassetti Tessuti.  It had an excellent array of textiles, on par with the beautiful location right near some beautiful landmarks.  Their luxury fabrics were wonderful as expected, but also had a great variety of high quality, more affordable options.  Like nearly all places in Rome, this little shop was bursting with inspiration.  This shop has magnificent linen and a wonderful collection of Liberty fabrics.  I got some spectacular wools here as well.


My Fabric Loot

I hope you enjoyed this Fabric Hunting: Rome and tour of Rome.  I love making these so please check out the other destinations below!

Fabric Hunting in Tallinn, Estonia

Fabric Hunting in Tallinn, Estonia: In Search of Inspiration

London's Best Fabric Shops

London's Best Fabric Shops – Fabric Hunting In The UK

Tanzanian Fabrics and The Kilimanjaro

In Search Of Inspiration, Tanzanian Fabrics And The Kilimanjaro

A Visit to the Worlds Finest Fabric Shop, Florence

A Visit to the World's Finest Fabric Shop

In Search Of Inspiration… The Panama Mola

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57 Responses to Fabric Hunting: Rome – In Search Of Inspiration

  1. Ria says:

    I happen to live about 1 hour’s drive from Rome – and until now I have only purchased fabric from Centro Tessile Settanni in Ciampino ,conveniently located near one of the exits of the Grande Raccordo Annulare (the ring motorway round the city). Easy to reach by car and easy parking space. Obviously a less spectacular location than its counterparts in the city centre, but large and well stocked with every imaginable kind of fabric on 2 floors. Prices from reasonable to expensive, depending on the quality of course… but I’ll definitely check out the city ones. By the way, I also love to browse the huge Sunday morning market by the Porta Portese – amongst all the bric-a-brac, tons of 2nd hand clothing and linens for almost nothing (I buy things to take apart and re-purpose for sewing garments and/or quilting), and a couple of stands with juwelry making supplies …

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Hi Ria, next time I am in Rome we should meet,(will let you know via Instagram, Atsoseweasy) I am planning to go back in July next year before moving on to the Amalfi Coast to hang for a few days. Thanks for the market tip, this is just the kind of thing I love to do in a Sunday morning.

  2. Bridgette says:

    Hi Mayra! As always, you did a stupendous job! I loved my visit to Rome and can’t wait to go back! Hugs!

  3. Helen says:

    I go to Florence (Fiernze) this September…I’m definitely stopping in. I go frequently to Milan…if you ever have any suggestions there, please share! Oh, and in Paris, too!!

  4. CareSA says:

    Lovely and very interesting post.

  5. Shirley says:

    Thank you for the pictures of Rome ( brings back lots of good memories) and your wonderful shopping trip.

  6. Paulette McPherson says:

    I was very fortunate to spend an extended holiday of 3 months in Rome in 2012 – one of my missions was to visit fabric shops, and I visited all three of these. I have to say it was overwhelming at first – Bassetti Tessutii was my first one – floor to ceiling fabric over 7 floors. It was like walking in a rabbit warren, twists and turns everywhere, with even more and more fabric, and when you chose one there was someone right there to help you, pulling out the tubes of fabric, then pulling out others in a very similar but different colours/patterns – it amazed m that they could easily and quickly pull out 5 or 6 different choices effortlessly – and they spread them so you can get a full view of what you are purchasing.. The most expensive fabric i saw was 250 Euro a meter camel hair fabric. I had to return a couple of times before I could focus on what I wanted to get

  7. Dee lowe says:

    WoW!!!! wouldn’t that be a dream to be able to shop in other countries for fabric- thank you for sharing, I almost felt like I was there. Love receiving your newsletter in my email , I don’t subscribe to many blogs and stick with them as long as I have yours. Thank-you Ladies.

    • Mary Bell says:

      Omg, this brings back beautiful memories of my trip to Rome two years ago! Love everything about this! My family is from a town near Rome and we now live in the USA. Can’t wait to go back. Your fabric stash is amazing!!

  8. bronwyndavid says:

    Is there a better souvenir than fabric? Pinning this in case I ever get there.

  9. Michele Lastovica says:

    On my gosh I would be in Heaven!! I spent the summer in Italy (Bologna and a small city on the Mediterranean) WAAAAAYYY back in 1976 as a student. I am returning to Italy, this time with my hubby, in 2020 and now I know exactly what I’ll be doing in Rome! The pictures are lovely, thanks for sharing!

  10. BONNIE E GEORGE says:

    This is the finest of the finest fabric stores! My first visit was over 10 years ago when I purchased fabric to create a Chanel knock-off! It’s a wonderful jacket and sooooo comfortable! And in June, we visited again and came home with some gorgeous over-the-top floral viscose and a Hermes remnant. Fabric is the perfect souvenir for me! Thanks for sharing your views and comments.

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      It is so great that you have both visited 10 years ago and they are still there. Your jacket must be a work of art.

  11. Peggy at Two P's in a Pod says:

    I’m SO disappointed at what I missed last month when I visited both Rome AND Florence!! I will certainly check with you when/if I ever get to travel again!!

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Ah Peggy, I guess you will have to do it again, both cities are splendid ways to spend vacation time.

  12. Beth B says:

    I only wish I had this information a couple years ago before I went to Rome. Any suggestions for Barcelona? I will be there several days before a cruise in November. Here is hoping someone has a suggestion or two.

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Barcelona is on top of my list both for fabric and leather, but I am hoping someone here can shed some light on the subject. If not how about you write the article?

  13. Cheryl says:

    Wow, I have 5 days in Rome in September .
    I cannot wait to see the fabrics!!!!!

  14. S H says:

    I’ve been to Rome short times twice in my lifetime, but never got to fabric shop, so your pix were inspiration for sure! Reminded me a bit of Marshall Fields Chicago fabric shopping years ago. Thank you for all the magnificent photos of the city also! I wish I could return there-I don’t think I could ever time of all the greatness on every corner, everywhere you look!

  15. Sharon says:

    OMG I’d have a nervous breakdown.

  16. laPenelopa says:

    hope you enjoy your trip in Rome (it’s my city). Last spring i’ve been in Singapore but i’ve to admit that i didn’t go hunting for fabrics 🙂

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      I will be back soon, so much to do and see perhaps we can meet for coffee and you can show me your city, nothing like to have a Roman showing you Rome it would be an honor. SIngapore has great places to hunt for fabric but you have to bargain hard or you will pay turist prices.

      • laPenelopa says:

        Yes please when you come next time it will be very nice to meet you. And if I’ll come to Singapore again I’ll let you know for sure :), and in case you can tell me how can I go fo shopping

        • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

          You can count on it, I will take you shopping in Singapore, I have had two readers (Chicago and Germany/Portugal) come and we had a really good time that ended in some Margaritas at the end of the day.

    • Petrina Lee says:

      Oh there are lots of fabric shops in Singapore especially in Arab Street and Chinatown – prices are reasonable!

  17. Lorraine says:

    Thank you so very much. I totally enjoyed your story for me it was like being there because at my age being that is never going to happen. Very kind of you to share.

  18. Yvonne Finne says:

    Hi Mayra, did you see any linens with prints? I would love to find good quality linen in interesting prints!

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Sadly no, I did buy plain crude and white for dying in fact I am finishing the print as I type to test a few ways to print at home. The quality of Italian linen is top class. Most of it is sold to the fashion houses for them to print their own designs. The best place I have found printed linen has been Lithuania and Hong Kong. I am completely obsessed with linen at the moment.

  19. Marge grizzard says:

    Beautiful photos. I visited Rome in 2003 and your photos brought back pleasant memories.

  20. Nancy says:

    Your bright-colored “loot” is amazing!! I’m afraid I would have been overwhelmed, not inspired! Thank you for this tour. I’ll probably never get there, and this was great.

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      “Hope” is the thing with feathers –
      That perches in the soul –
      And sings the tune without the words –
      And never stops – at all … Emily Dickinson

  21. Debora Bailey says:

    OMG…thank you so much for posting…I thought I was the only person that went on vacation and brought back fabric!!! We went to Hawaii and I brought back fabric to make placemats! I brought back lace and silk from Rome too!


    j’adore l’Italie; votre butin est trop beau…..

  23. Rhonda says:

    This is so wonderful. Thanks for sharing!

  24. Charmaine Castro says:

    I thinks that’s fabulous! If only we could have a fabric tour slash country tour I would love to go……lol! Just to see the different fabric other countries have and get a few goodies along the way!

  25. Matty says:

    Beautiful photos. Thanks for sharing

  26. Helen says:

    Wonderful. Thank you for posting

  27. Brenda says:

    I really enjoyed the article. The pictures are beautiful, as are the fabrics, especially the fabrics you brought home. (Did you buy any extra for ME?)
    I also enjoyed reading about the history of Rome. You now have me wanting to go to Rome. Have you thought of putting a group together? Seriously.

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Brenda, I would love to that, this is why I am learning Italian. I could never do it if I could not speak the language. I do know French so Paris is possible for me.

  28. wanda says:

    a quilters dream come true

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