Rome Retail Store Possibilities

In late 2005 Apple began recruiting for employees at a future store in Rome (italy), leading to speculation about where the store might be located. In Jan. 2006 I visited Rome and toured its major city-center shopping districts, as well as the new Parco Leonardo shopping mall about 15 miles southwest of the city near Fumicino International Airport.

I did not locate any obvious signs of an Apple store under construction, but I did locate what--at first--seemed to be some great possibilities. However, the mystery remains--where will Apple locate?

The city center does not have shopping centers or malls like the United States. Instead, retail is from individual shops scattered throughout the city. And unlike the U.S., Romans still travel by bus and Metro (subway) to the city center to shop, especially for fashions.

The main shopping district is centered on two intersecting streets that are within a mile and one-half circle: via Corso and via Condotti. The former runs north-south from the area of the Coliseum to the Piazza de Popolo, while the latter runs east-west from the Spanish Steps to the area of the Vatican.

Within this circle are Rome's main tourist attractions and shopping areas, but also many office government buildings that generate a constant flow of vehicle and foot traffic.

The length of via Condotti north of about Trevi Fountain is limited to pedestrians, although taxis, electric mini-buses and resident vehicles are allowed. On any weekend the street is packed with shoppers who are visiting the hundreds of stores in the area.

The portion of via Condotti east of via Corso is similarly restricted to pedestrians and permitted vehicles. It also is packed with shoppers and tourists, even during the non-summer months.

The streets of Rome are generally narrow, crowded and filled with trucks, passenger cars and lots of motorcycles and motorscooters. The buildings usually are sited right at the sidewalk line, creating narrow canyons with limited sighting for signs and storefronts. The city's old architecture dominates, but never limits the ability of retailers to construct modern facilities inside.

The area of Corso/Condotti may seem to be the perfect place for an Apple store. However, it allows no pick-up of computers and other large items. There also appears to be limited spaces that would allow for construction of a store that meets Apple's usual requirements: wide, with an excellent view of the storefront, and with more than a ground-floor space available.

There are other areas of the city that attract shoppers, including the city's Termini train station, but the same restrictions of traffic and parking apply.

The new (Dec. 2005) Parco Leonardo shopping mall on the city's outskirts would be opportunity for Apple to open a retail space up to 60-feet wide. However, I found only two vacant spaces in the mall, both smaller than Apple's usual size for international stores.

Check the captions of the photos below for a better idea of how Rome shoppers conduct their business.

I obtained prices on Apple products from two authorized resellers, and found that there is very little difference between the stores there, but a big difference between italy and U.S. pricing.

Update: In mid-February 2006 I discovered the Romaest mall on Rome's east side is set for a June grand opening. Here are some details.

page 1 of 3 Next
a - 1 a - 2 a - 3
view from Spanish Steps crowded Spanish Steps> view of via Condotti
a - 4 a - 5 a - 6
up Condotti to
Spanish Steps
  view of Condotti west
towards Corso
a - 7 a - 8 a - 9
peds and vehicles share Piazza Spagna building
under renovation
b - 1 b - 2 b - 3
American Express building along via Condotti  
b - 4 b - 5 b - 6
  sidestreet of Condotti  
b - 7 b - 8 b - 9
    intersection of Corso and
c - 1 c - 2 c - 3
Fendi store United Colors of Benetton view north along
via Corso
c - 4 c - 5 c - 6
along Corso along Corso, Nike store along Corso, Addidas store