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.
Saint Peter's Basilica
The Vatican Museum
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).
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”.
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!