A quick and handy gift guide for those searching for the perfect gift and souvenir from their Italian trip.
Classic food gifts
Italy’s best export couldn’t be exempted from this list. True, you can now buy most Italian delicacies at Dean & DeLuca or on the internet, but not all brands can be purchased abroad. If you’re traveling to Tuscany, a batch of freshly made, lesser-known pastas like pici and pappardelle makes for a great gift for your foodie friends. And giving a bottle of a vineyard you personally visited on a wine tour comes with an extra gift: all that you’ve learned from your visit! Olive oil, limoncello liqueur and Modena balsamic vinegar are other great options too. Consider pairing your edibles with something more permanent, like a cruet set or cooking utensils (here’s 14 recommended by our chefs).
There are a number of ways to bring back a taste of Italy—just make sure you check with your airline and that you are compliant with what the latest regulations from your country of residence specify. Most shops nowadays also offer international delivery, so enquire with the sales assistant first.
Handmade pottery from Tuscany and Umbria
Italian ceramics are famous around the world for their high quality and their intricate design. Whilst it can be traced back as far as Greek and Etruscan times, ceramics production really flourished during the Renaissance period, when Tuscany and Umbria became famous for producing ‘Maiolica’ ceramics.
Since both regions are graced by a hilly countryside, mountains and plenty of rivers, it’s not hard to see why handmade pottery became a staple industry. Most of the ceramic villages are in fact, located along the riverbanks, where there are natural clay deposits. This clay makes the product special and of finer quality than other kinds of ceramics.
In Umbria, the charming village of Deruta has been one of the centers of the ceramics-making industry in Italy as it’s home to dozens of family-owned studios and workshops where local artisans hand-paint each piece.
Italian books and music
Any of your friends or family looking to improve their Italian? Then what gift is best than a book or music album – in Italy you’ll sure find a greater selection than abroad.
Florence is considered the birthplace of perfume, even though France will make it famous. The reason being, Catherine de’ Medici, engaged to the king of France, travelled to Paris in 1533 and took her personal perfumier, Renato Bianco, with her.
The Officina Profumo Farmaceutica Santa Maria Novella, founded in 1225 in Florence and still active, is one of the oldest pharmacies in the world and has a wide inventory of artisanal soaps, perfumes, lotions and even liqueurs for sale.
Most convents and monasteries, like the Camaldoli hermitage, also sell their preparations and throughout history, the monastic orders helped to diffuse the knowledge beyond their monasteries’ walls, so much so that the tradition of artisan cosmetics is still alive in Tuscany today.
Stylish gifts for the fashionable set
A trip to Italy is also a great occasion for clothes shopping, without the hefty price tag if you know where to look: outlets! With so many fashion brands born in Italy (Gucci, Cavalli, Ferragamo to name a few), it’s no wonder that incredible deals can be found at the numerous outlet centers. In Tuscany alone, one can visit the McArthur Glen Designer Outlet and ‘the Mall’, both close to Florence, as well as the Valdichiana Outlet, near Cortona.
Handmade Leather Goods
With its famous Chianina cows and the thriving city of Florence, the Italian region of Tuscany has all that it takes to make fine-quality leather. Since the 13th century, Florence has been traditionally home to water-heavy trades, like hide tanning because of its proximity to the Arno river. To this day, almost 35% of national leather production still takes place here. You can find authentic Italian-quality leather throughout Tuscany and even nearby Umbria, but Florence has the greatest selection in this remit.
Florentine and Italian stationery
Inspired by traditional Renaissance patterns, these papers were printed by hand until the 1950s. Today they are produced using offset printing techniques, a process that can use up to six colors including powdered gold. Rich in complex patterns and vivid color combinations, each paper house creates designs with specific embellishments and motifs. Great for those who prefer pen and paper to texts and social media.
Tuscan towns like Florence and Arezzo are well-known for their gold jewellery, having had, throughout history, high-end customers, such as the Medici ducal family, Popes and other illustrious patrons. Ponte Vecchio, in particular, is home to some of Florence’s oldest jewellery shops where exquisite creations can be found.
With so much inspiration and beauty all around, it’s hard not to be creative. Which is why contemporary Italian artists are numerous and talented, offering the opportunity to take home your very own piece of Italian art.