Curiosities abound along Notting Hill’s famed Portobello Road…
Curiosities abound along Notting Hill’s famed Portobello Road…
A local favourite shop with whimsical items for sale…
If you have been to London before there are certain tried and true favourite popular places one goes back for. Next time switch it up with other great locations and establishments to experience London like more of a Londoner…
If you like shopping at Harrods… Try Selfridges
Yes Harrods is great, and no one is taking anything away from that, but Selfridges is also a classic department store not to mention a great example of Art Deco architecture. Inside the shop feels modern and hip with a huge shoe department to die for and all the top fashion designers. Selfridges also has its own mouth watering food halls with top foodie boutiques for Pierre Hermes macarons and St. John’s bakery.
Instead of Afternoon Tea at The Ritz… Try Pret-a-Portea at The Berkeley
While a traditional tea is quintessentially English, if you’d like to change it up a bit nothing could be more stylish than the fashion inspired Pret-a-Portea. The theme changes seasonally to take inspiration for the latest season collections. How about a Burberry coat cookie? Or a cake in the shape of a Prada bag? Simply fabulous dah-ling!
For a bit of antiquing instead of Portobello Road… Try Grey’s Antique Market
Conveniently located just off Oxford street, this small but seriously packed antiquarian hangout is a sort of covered market featuring some really lovely pieces from jewelery on the top floor, to ceramics and lace on the lower ground floor. Perfect place to hide from the rain too.
To satisfy an art fix instead of going to the National Gallery… Try the Wallace Collection
Ideally do both, but if you have seen all the masterpieces of the NG, try the extremely elegant and highly underrated Wallace Collection not far from Oxford Street. Housing both fine and decorative arts, this baby grand museum has one of the best collections of 18th century Sevres porcelain along with an impressive gallery of 15th thru 19th century painting. Among this world class treasure trove is Fragonard’s whimsical The Swing and Hals The Laughing Cavalier.
For heaven on earth, instead of Westminster Abbey… Try St. Bartholomew the Great
The queues to get into Westminster Abbey can be long, but for another church with historical clout and vaulted cloisters head over to one of London’s oldest surviving churches St. Bart’s. This evocative 12th century medieval church survived the Great Fire and the bombings during World War II. Best of all almost no tourists and it is a truly peaceful place. If that doesn’t impress you enough, it has been featured in many movies as well. A real treat around Christmastime when they put up the tree.
If you are heading out for a pub crawl instead of the West End… Try Farringdon
While there are great pubs everywhere in London, the Farringdon area in The City, near the church of St. Barts, has a nice cluster of pubs with a true authentic feel and with a bit more taste for boutique made ales, many within a short walking distance from one another. Try the Fox & Anchor, The Peasant, and The Hope
Compared to other Italian hot spots, the Amalfi Coast doesn’t offer a huge selection of shopping in terms of diversity beyond the usual t-shirt and limoncello stores but there are some notable exceptions that will still work out your credit card. If you are looking for designer boutiques that is best found on Capri, and instead look for more unique pieces on the mainland coast. Positano has boutique finds, while Ravello has very elegant selections of ceramics, and Amalfi is great for picking up food items and smaller gifts. So be prepared to fill your suitcase as you will not go back empty handed.
A little etiquette first. In Italy, especially in smaller shops, it is customary to greet the shop owner with a hello, or “Buongiorno!” Many times shops are considered extensions of people’s home and should be thought of the same way upon entering. Politeness does go a long way and even if you don’t speak Italian, do smile and say hello to people.
A bird nest overlooking the blue sea, Ravello posses elegance and good breeding. While there are ceramics all over the Amalfi Coast, I found the more unique designs with real palatial feel along these quiet streets in the sky.
Ceramiche d’Arte Carmela (Via del Rufolo, 16) – Off the main piazza, on the way to the Villa Cimbrone, is my favourite shop for ceramics. Exciting designs, classic styles plus that little bit more. They will ship so shop knowing they will pack it up and send it to you with minimal hassles. I found a rich red platter with yellow acanthus leaves which remains one of my most stunning purchases.
Wine Amalfi Coast (Via Roma, 38) – On the other side of the piazza, under the arch, is a small but very well stocked wine shop specializing in the best of local wines and spirits. You want that special, not your run of the mill limoncello, or a bold Taurasi wine, this is a great place to buy your wines.
The bustling and charming seaside town of Amalfi is a great place to pick up those decorative bottles of limoncello. A couple smaller ceramic shops along the main road offer inexpensive yet very pretty gift options, while little food shops sell traditional Italian food items.
Pasticerria Pansa (Via Duca Mansone I, 40) This is one of those baby grand old world European cafes. Glass cabinets displaying mouthwatering pastries and candies, mirrored walls and polished wood, make it a must. And after you have had your coffee, make sure you pick up some of the most beautiful marzipan and biscotti.
Limoncello Il Profumo shop (Piazza del Duomo) – Right next to Pasticerria Pansa is a small picturesque boutique selling nothing but limoncello in a wide selection of beautiful bottles. From the traditional painted local scene to some really artful ones, they are all delightful.
Energetic and more tourist traveled Positano has a bit more variety and a can range from art galleries to flip flop shops. Much of the selection feels a bit dated and expected, yet the places that are nice, are very particular and offer exceptional finds.
Emporio Le Sirenuse (Via Cristoforo Colombo, 103) – Probably the best stylish boutique along the coast with lovely resort clothing pieces along with unique home items. Fanciful pillowcases like the ones used at the hotel and decorative home designers like Carlo Moretti glass pieces displayed along light scarves and and pretty bags.
Ceramica Assunta (Via C. Colombo, 97 & 137) You will see many ceramic shops along the Amalfi Coast. Some are better than others and it depends what you are looking for. I like this one for its extensive selection of good craftsmanship. Beautiful plates and colourfully designed pasta bowls.
Cafiero Luigi, Vendita Oggetti Usati, (Via C. Colombo 171) Love this tiny shop at the top of the road. Displaying its whimsical and eclectic selection of antique pieces along the road and decorating the ledge overlooking the sea, there is something very special about this place. From the iron worked pieces to the rare decorative glass vase this place is from times past.
Don Catello sandals (Via Franco Franchi, 5) Antonio the shop keeper is one of the friendliest people you will meet and a delight to spend time with. He also knows shoes, and the ones in his shop are extremely stylish. Comfortable and bejeweled handmade sandals are one of a kind and you will leave feeling like Cinderella on the way to the ball.
Don’t leave the Amalfi Coast without a beautiful bottle of limoncello, a pair of sandals, and a piece of decorative ceramic work. They are things that will transport you back to Italy when you are home.