Updated: October 2023
Deep in my heart I still believe that the best gift ever given to anyone in the history of the world was given by me, to my sister.
She was the lucky recipient of a combination bottle opener/toe-nail clipper in the shape of Pope John Paul II’s face. I procured it at a now long defunct religious souvenir shop near Santa Maria Maggiore.
But Pope Francis is the now the big deal around here and that means his tailor is a big deal too. Yes, the Pope’s tailor is always selected before they are elected so they can have robes ready to go in the right sizes for a newly minted Pope.
Lest you believe those robes make themselves, I’ll let you in on a little secret: the pope gets all his sweet swag from Gammarelli.
Gammarelli is a small ecclesiastical shop near the Pantheon, that technically anyone can visit.
I say “technically” because, well, it is a little bit awkward to walk into a tiny store that sell exclusively priest clothes when you are dressed like an Italian teenager in ripped jeans and black tennis shoes.
Please, learn from me, and do not wear ripped jeans to Gammarelli’s. They will be nice about it, but you might (like me) end up weirdly hovering outside while waiting for actual priests to leave the store.
The whole reason that you would want to visit the Pope’s tailor is so you can get your hands on Pope socks.
The actual socks that the Pope actually wears. (Bishops and Cardinals, too, no doubt).
Pope socks make an excellent Christmas present or unique Roman souvenir. (Or at least that is what I told my father-in-law when I gave him a pair over the holidays last year).
At €12 a pop, you get a great story and some excellent quality socks.
It is true that Pope Francis is no longer so shiny new in Rome, but the best things about the city are often its classics and that is what this store is — Gammarelli has had Roman priests covered since 1798.
Via di Santa Chiara, 34
Centro Storico (close to the Pantheon)
00186 Roma, Italy
Open Monday – Friday, 8:30 am to 7 pm