Unique things to buy in Italy?

Old Jun 9th, 2009, 07:36 PM
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If you are in Assisi, be sure to buy a nativity creche - St. Frances invented them. And if you are touring the hilltowns, we found the best ceramics to be in Deruta -- it seems like every house is a pottery studio.
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Old Jun 10th, 2009, 03:19 AM
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Tuscanlifeedit-As of now we are going to Rome and Florence. Hope to also go to Venice, Orvieto, and Siena.
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Old Jun 10th, 2009, 06:11 AM
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Just returned from a trip to Rome and brought back soap from Farmacia Santa Maria Novella (their main store is in Florence). They have wonderful products and I purchased small bars of Almond Soap (Sapone alla Mandorla) for gifts (and for myself).
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Old Jun 10th, 2009, 06:50 AM
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You will find ceramic shops in Orvieto. I like the spoon trays to put by my stove (the ones where you place your spoon or whatever utensil you use during cooking). I also like the wine bottle "plate" and cork bottle top to match. I'd love to buy a big ceramic salad bowl, but I'm concerned about how to get it home in one piece! Plus, they are heavy!

Balsamic vinegar!! You'll find that, and olive oil, in all price ranges.

And leather handbags, of course!
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Old Jun 10th, 2009, 07:02 AM
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We travel to Italy often. Here is what I bring home: from Venice -long silk crinkly scarves that are beautiful colors, some only one color, other combinations of colors. In Venice you need to be cautious as much of the glass (says Murano) comes from china! There's a shop in Castello, Alice in Wonderland, where we've bought some lovely Murano glass pieces. I always bring back small (easy to pack!) packages of different kinds of herbs and dried porcini mushrooms as well as other Italian packaged dried herb mixtures...a risotto that is freeze dried that I discovered in a gas station shop..I bought about 6 of these, they are fantastic and I wish I had more. These are best found in little markets, not touristy food shops and they are not costly. I'm obviously thinking food when we're in Italy as I also buy jars of different kinds of pestos and little bottles of truffles. These are great gifts but also it's nice to open your kitchen cupboard and find something to add to your pasta that is reminiscent of your trip.
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Old Jun 10th, 2009, 11:32 AM
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I definitely agree with the people who've noted the variety of unique glasses frames Aside from that, my suggestion would actually be Plumcakes. Yes, those little boxes of 6 light cakey snacks, usually made with yogurt that you find in the cookie aisle in any Italian supermarket. They're cheap, delicious, and make a great treat for anyone on the gift list, no matter what their age. I've seldom ever seen them outside of Italy, and you certainly can't find them in the States, so whenever I go back I have to bring a suitcase full for my friends!
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Old Jun 10th, 2009, 11:52 AM
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Dobermina's post reminded me of paneforte (Tuscan cake with dried fruits), also biscotti, torrone, amaretti, and so on. Each region has its specialties. I always like to stop in a grocery store and buy things like tomato paste in tubes, jams, spices, Sicilian sea salt. On my last trip I bought some bags of farro and "cereali minestra," a mixed grain used in making soup. Of course cheeses like parmigiano or grano padano in vaccum packages are great to bring as well.
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Old Jun 10th, 2009, 11:57 AM
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Oops, forgot about the splurge question! Leather jacket in Florence, handbags. And don't forget designer shoes. My husband and I have had large ceramic pieces shipped home from Ravello, Cefalu and Siena. You asked about pens, and Italy has some of the finest but they are truly collector items and expensive. I bought my son a gorgeous Montegrappa in Milan.
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Old Jun 10th, 2009, 02:54 PM
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Just wanted to comment on what a great thread this is! So many mentions of things I love to buy and ideas for many more
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Old Jun 10th, 2009, 02:58 PM
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We buy wine that cannot be found here from small family vineyards and have it shipped back. I've also brought back venetian style writing paper, glass earrrings, keychains, fountain pens, etc and we did splurge on a unique venetian mask - we always buy a print or two and have them framed for memories.
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Old Jun 10th, 2009, 03:25 PM
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Fiats!

Oh wait, they're coming to America soon enough.
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Old Jun 11th, 2009, 02:49 AM
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I bought a dozen packets of the hot chocolate mix, to have that unique, thick treat when I got home. (Of course, I make it with skim milk!)
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Old Mar 17th, 2011, 01:05 PM
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My favorite item was my splurge item... a beautiful inlaid wood music box from Cuomo's Lucky Store in Sorrento.

I also love the small glass pendant I bought in Venice at a small shop giving a glass blowing demonstration just off St. Mark's Square. I wear it all the time!
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Old Mar 17th, 2011, 01:25 PM
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In Orvieto, don't miss the woodworking shop of Michalangeli, right on the main street.

And I always bring back a bag of porcini since you can't get them here.
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Old Mar 17th, 2011, 01:27 PM
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So many things mentioned here. One that was not was an assortment of seed packages for Italian vegetables that are difficult to find here. At customs in the US, I declared them of course and they were taken, inspected, and approved but I did take the chance they would not be. We were the last to leave the customs area but our reward was a fantastic Italian vegetable garden for the next 2 years.

For a splurge, we like hand painted ceramics. There is a shop in Venice that does beautiful work and ships. Also, we had shipped from Murano a chandelier of traditional design that now adorns our dining room. We bought it at the factory and met the workers who made it.
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Old Mar 17th, 2011, 01:30 PM
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Forgot to mention a splurge on some very nice marquetry we found in Sorento and shipped home.
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Old Aug 9th, 2011, 12:03 PM
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My sister told me that they make beautiful leather gloves in Italy and the salesperson will ensure they fit you perfectly. I intend to pick up some gloves in Italy.
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Old Aug 9th, 2011, 03:34 PM
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Got to have an apron that makes you look like David!
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Old Apr 27th, 2012, 11:46 AM
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This thread is awesome! Some of the posts reference shipping things back to the US, it that affordable?
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Old Apr 27th, 2012, 12:15 PM
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Kristen, for example I had the studio pack and ship to the US 6 ceramic pieces valued at about $500 in 2010. The cost was 50 Euro including insurance. There was room in the box for more if I wanted. As I recall, the cost of packing and shipping a medium sized chandelier from Murano a couple of years earlier was about the same. If you want to ship, have the shop pack and ship it for you. In my experience it doesn't cost more and they know what they are doing and it saves a lot of hassle. Remember though, that depending on what it is and the cost, there could be customs duty on the US end.
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