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Fun things to bring home from Italy?

Old Feb 10th, 2010, 01:46 PM
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Fun things to bring home from Italy?

What sort of things do people like to bring home from Italy? For yourselves or to give as gifts. I know wine is likely a common one but what else?

We'll be in Rome, Florence and Venice mainly.

Any ideas?
Iowa_Redhead is offline  
Old Feb 10th, 2010, 02:20 PM
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Pretty printed papers, Murano glass (Venice), passmenterie (Florence).
Leather gloves from Madova gloves in Florence.
Small pieces of pottery.
Olive oil, panforte, dried mushrooms.
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Old Feb 10th, 2010, 03:22 PM
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Hi Iowa. I have often purchased leather bookmarks when in Florence. I have quite a few for myself but they also make nice "I was thinking of you" presents. Inexpensive, lovely, they take up no room in your luggage of course and they last forever. I still have some that are 40 years old. Tea towels make lovely gifts too. For a special woman in your life a silk scarf is another good present assuming that special woman, like your mom, likes scarves. And just keep your eyes open, there are so many wonderful items in Italy and it is fun to come across something that is perfect, something you never thought of before hand.
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Old Feb 10th, 2010, 03:25 PM
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Glass and beautiful masks in Venice; gloves, gold jewelry and unique perfumes (from the Farmacia di Santa Maria Novella near the Piazza Santa Maria Novella) in Florence, truffle oil, cheeses and dried porcini mushrooms which you can actually pick up in the airport on your way home.
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Old Feb 10th, 2010, 03:46 PM
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When I'm in Rome I love to go to the Porta Portese market (every Sunday) and search for antique baubles and books to bring home. I've found some really beautiful old rosaries that I've brought home to my Catholic friends and even some old Italian Disney comics (Topolino fighting the Nazis!) for some of my Disney-loving friends. I also bring home coffe from Tazza D'Oro, and bath goods and elixirs from Ai Monasteri.

In Venice I've picked up some lovely lace items in Burano along with some interesting chocolates from Vizio Virtu. I also pick up stationery items at Grafiche Elleme near Santa Maria Mater Domini.

Also in Rome and in Venice you can find some interesting toys - handcrafted wooden puzzles and gadgets that are really beautiful.
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Old Feb 10th, 2010, 04:03 PM
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I also buy bookmarks for gifts. Leather, hand-made paper, lace, even incredibly thin olive wood ones. And ditto most of the other things mentioned so far.

For little kids, I've brought back Pinocchio marionettes, but I also bought myself a wooden Pinocchio "doll" with changeable noses (normal and long) that I bring out at Christmas. Also for myself, I buy small boxes and bells for my every-growing collections.

Years ago, we would look for cleverly-designed (and humorous) kitchen gadgets, but these seem to be more widely available in the U.S. now and not so "unique."
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Old Feb 10th, 2010, 04:09 PM
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I brought home panna cotta mix that I got in a little grocery store and it was delicious. Plus gorgeous note cards. Oh yes, a gorgeous bra!
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Old Feb 10th, 2010, 04:22 PM
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We bought some of those Pinocchio's as well, and use one as a Christmas ornament.

Other items we bought in Italy are handbags, leather jackets, paper bookmarks, shoes, Venetian masks, oil paintings, perfume, gold earrings, and lots of pottery. I especially like chicken pitchers, so have brought back an assortment of those.
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Old Feb 10th, 2010, 04:29 PM
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I'd like to bring home one of those handsome Italians, myself!
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Old Feb 10th, 2010, 05:03 PM
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We have bought ceramics and other crafts but we always bring home cheese which you can get vacuum sealed in most cheese shops/enotecas. From the grocery store we buy, anchovy paste in a tube, dried porcini and porcini boullion cubes, sundried tomatoes, and farro soup mixes. A lot of the food products you'll find in tourist shops you'll find in grocery stores and the quality is typically very good.

What I'd really like to bring home is a nonna to make me gnocchi and cacio e pepe...
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Old Feb 10th, 2010, 05:16 PM
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I bought a small 3.5 inch diamater glass dish in Venice and use it daily to hold my rings when I take them off to sleep. It's my favorite souvenir. My husband and I also picked out two sets of small watercolors in Italy- one in Venice and the other in Rome. They are different from each other, but both evocative of place. We had them framed and I'm looking at them now.
What I wish I had bought, but didn't, are a set of plates from Siena that represent the districts in Il Palio. I still think about those plates, and it's been 8 years. If I get back there, I'm buying them, damn the shipping cost!
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Old Feb 10th, 2010, 05:28 PM
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LOL, Dayle. That was my first thought, too.
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Old Feb 10th, 2010, 05:50 PM
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Leather gloves from a shop in the Oltrarno in Florence. I bought 2 pair, one black and one a sort of electric royal blue. Wish I had bought 10 pair.
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Old Feb 10th, 2010, 06:20 PM
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Dayle, I SOOO like that idea!! I'll definitely have to try that one!

Thanks for all of the ideas everyone. Is Italian cheese special for some reason? I noticed a few people said mushrooms (won't work for me or my family) and cheese. Mushrooms I understand, but why cheese??

Leather gloves, great idea! I know a few people who would adore a nice pair of leather gloves from Italy.
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Old Feb 10th, 2010, 06:31 PM
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I bought a charcoal print from a vender in one of the piazza's in Rome. I had it framed and love it. It's a wonderful memory. I also bought some beautiful post cards...I'm a terrible photographer, and also had those framed.

The gal selling the charcoal drawings was adorable. She was scottish, married to an italian and he did the drawings. She sold his drawings while he was at work. She was wearing the MOST fabulous shoes. We had quite a nice chat.

I wanted a mask in Venice, but was short on time, and all the ones in the "tourist traps" were cheap and horrible. There are beautiful maskes to be had but I didn't have time to locate them and they aren't cheap. Next time, it will be my quest.

I bought some sterling silver and amethyst earrings in Florence. Very unusual and very pretty.
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Old Feb 10th, 2010, 06:34 PM
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crefloors--Those drawings sounds great! I know what you mean about the cheap masks. We found a store way off the tourist beat that was making them and I found one I fell in love with. Not as extravagant as many, but I love it and have it hung in a prominent spot so I see it many times a day
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Old Feb 10th, 2010, 07:08 PM
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Well my dears, my daughter did catch the eye of a Roman man and he has been her husband for over a decade. I trained her well, lol.
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Old Feb 10th, 2010, 07:22 PM
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I have small glass dishes from Murano, and a favorite was a black and gold one that we gave DD and her husband for their Steeler room. I bought a very good one for myself; it is tiny but gorgeous. I also bought beautiful glass cabinet pulls that really dress up my Ikea book cabinet.

Why cheese? Because Italian cheese is so great.

I also like to bring back lots of toiletries and small grocery items. Lobello lip balm is my favorite. Naturopathic things are nice too, and some OTC medications. This might be TMI, but Dieci Herbe is the best natural laxative I've ever tried, and Xamamina tabs are my favorite motion sickness meds.

Jean, I used to go for the kitchen gadgets too, but also see them here now.

Tiggy, I wish I had you as a guide for Porta Portese. I felt like I was in tube sock hell. Is there a good guide, in print or online, as to where the antiques and bric a brac are? I have found my way around flea markets most places, but that one stumps me.

A nice market in Rome is the one at Piazza Fontanella Borghese, if you like prints, stamps and paper ephemera.
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Old Feb 10th, 2010, 07:27 PM
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If no one above has mentioned the Mercato Centrale food market in Florence, you might enjoy it. I buy a lot there, but it sounds like foodstuffs may not be your major interest.

If not, roam the San Lorenzo market. So much to buy that it makes my head spin. Inexpensive scarves, accessories, and just tons of stuff.

Florence is full of wonderful stand alone shops. I have some jewelry from Florence, and I don't even like jewelry. The designs are so nice, and the 18k gold is very pretty.
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Old Feb 10th, 2010, 07:44 PM
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Food is fun, but I don't know what to do with most of the stuff I see, if I even know what it is!

I could wander around for days looking at all the churches, cathedrals and whatnot but I think my Mom would get sick of that. I know she wants to see a certain huge fabric store while we're in Rome. She does a lot of quilting so fun fabric shops would be good for her.
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