I’m partial to via il Prato, having had my hair rescued by the team at Tommy’s (17r). It’s an unassuming and underpriced salon, and was seemingly the only place in town open on the Feast Day of the Immacolata, when I could no longer ignore how my then-long locks had moved from “whimsically unkempt” to “morbidly matted.” Post-cut, I strolled down the street—resembling more a boulevard than the veering vicoli of pieno centro—and wished more of its merchants had worked through the holiday, absorbed as I was by their businesses’ nichey names and capricious window displays. I went back by night a full month later, comrade Michelle with camera in hand.
Via il Prato 45r
Bright-eyed Cristina of Bolzano is the owner and chief crafter in this charming children’s shop, which formerly carried only consignment items. These days, the merchandise—from wool skirts and coveralls to bibs and ribbons—is new and made strictly in-house, with the bottega tucked away beyond a border in the back.
Via il Prato 7r
With Villa Favard within shouting distance, it’s no surprise that this panache-packed bookshop brings Polimoda students in droves. It’s heavy on art-and-fashion-world insider material—think trend notebooks, trade magazines and textile catalogs—but there’s plenty of mainstream publications and coffee table keepsakes that are tough to land locally.
Sorgentone e Mecatti
Via il Prato 53a
Peer in on lutemaking artisans in action, putting together violins, cellos and double basses piece by piece or readying them for restoration. Miniature-size string musicians are Paolo Sorgentone’s personal favorite customers, particularly for the wonder sparked when they see the workspace.
Via il Prato 53-55r
Visit this cutting-edge children’s corner once a month and you’ll never find the same shop twice (though certain standbys are always at the ready). Owner Daisy’s design background can be seen in every inch, from the bauble-like lantern lights to the cheeky birthday cards. Stop by for decor, party goods, toys and tiny handcrafted wonders, or parenting practicalities from leading international brands.
Stringhouse Corde e Dintorni
Via il Prato 89a
We’d never string you along: gregarious owner Gianfranco could inspire anyone to become a guitarist. Amid the rows of acoustic and electric options, the shop is lined with picks and strings, straps and accessories, for everyone from newbies to next-Jimi-Hendrix hopefuls. Your string breaking will get you inside; Gianfranco’s colorful personality and doting customer service will keep you there.
Via il Prato 57/59
Tex-Mex craving got your tongue? Its original via Ghibellina branch is a student standby, and Tijuana’s party-size via il Prato location is a family favorite for fresh Mexican-inspired cuisine. Fishbowl-size frozen margaritas are a half-price hallmark of Happy Hour (from 7–8pm); friend groups flock here to nosh on sizzling fajitas and mountainous nacho bowls.