Italian Souvenirs:
Discovering Treasures Across Italy

Italy, with its rich history, vibrant culture, and breathtaking landscapes, is a paradise for souvenir and gift hunters. Across the length and breadth of Italy are souvenirs you will bring home and treasure forever; some make great gifts for friends and family.

From the sun-kissed shores of the Amalfi Coast to the historic streets of Rome and the picturesque vineyards of Tuscany, each region offers its own unique treasures.

You need to be wary, though; there are many fakes out there. I can't think of anything more embarrassing than buying a "genuine" Italian gift for someone only to find a Made in China tag hidden away somewhere difficult to see or written in tiny script.

That's what my guide is for. To avoid that happening to you, I will advise you on what gifts and souvenirs to buy in Italy. It'll help you avoid those nasty fakes. 

Let's go souvenir hunting...

Many people love to collect souvenirs like snow globes and fridge magnets - in fact, I have a fair number of them too. Those sorts of souvenirs can be found everywhere - no guide is needed.  Therefore, in this article, I am more focused on traditional gifts and souvenirs from the various region of Italy.

Souvenirs from the Amalfi Coast

Shop ceramics Positano

The Amalfi Coast is a treasure chest of artisanal craftsmanship and culinary delights. Okay, the prices can be high, but the quality is almost always excellent and you will find very few of the fakes that have taken over places like Venice.

I am always happy to spend a little more on something I know is truly locally made and of the highest quality.

So where are the best places to buy souvenirs on the Amalfi Coast, and what should you buy? Let's start with Ravello.

Ravello: A Haven of Ceramics

Italian souvenirs in RavelloCeramiche d'Arte Carmela

Begin your adventure in the hilltop town of Ravello, where panoramic views of the Mediterranean Sea provide the perfect backdrop for artistic inspiration. Here, you'll find Ceramiche d'Arte Carmela, a renowned pottery studio renowned for its exquisite handcrafted ceramics, where skilled artisans transform clay into intricate works of art, from decorative vases to hand-painted tiles. The store is a cluttered treasure trove, you can easily lose yourself in here for hours. Pascal, the owner, is really helpful too when it comes to shipping and will gladly provide advice and assistance on shipping your purchases to your home.

Our Tip: When buying a gift/souvenir that you are having shipped, be sure to take photos of the condition of the product so that you have evidence of any damage on arrival.

Vietri sul Mare: Vibrant Pottery and Coastal Charm

Venture further along the coast to Vietri sul Mare, known as the "City of Ceramics." Here, the tradition of pottery dates back centuries, with local artisans continuing to produce some of the finest ceramics in Italy.

Explore the colorful streets lined with boutique ceramic shops and studios, where you can witness master craftsmen at work, shaping and painting each piece by hand. The vibrant hues and intricate designs that adorn plates, vases, and decorative tiles are amazing.

Don't miss the opportunity to visit iconic ceramic workshops like Ceramiche Solimene.

Cetara: Culinary Delights and Ancient Traditions

Has shopping for all those ceramic souvenirs left you with an appetite? Then, head to Cetara for a taste of the Amalfi Coast's culinary heritage. Here, amidst the winding streets and sun-soaked harbor, you'll discover the ancient art of La Colatura di Alici, a traditional fish sauce dating back to Roman times—the Romans called it Garum, and they absolutely loved the stuff.

Produced using anchovies caught in the pristine waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea, this amber-colored elixir is prized for its intense umami flavor and rich history. Explore local markets and family-run shops to sample this gastronomic treasure, or take home a bottle of authentic colatura di alici to elevate your culinary creations. It's a great addition to tomato-based pasta sauces.

What other souvenirs from the Amalfi Coast are there?

No visit to the Amalfi Coast would be complete without buying a bottle of limoncello, a lemon liqueur made from the region's famed lemons. Crafted from the finest local lemons, handpicked from the region's verdant groves, this golden elixir is a symphony of tangy sweetness and refreshing aroma. 

Each sip conjures visions of azure seas and fragrant lemon blossoms, transporting you to the picturesque cliffsides and charming villages that define this iconic coastline. Whether enjoyed as a post-meal digestif or a refreshing aperitif on a balmy evening, Amalfi Coast Limoncello delights the senses and evokes the spirit of la dolce vita. You can also use it to make our delicious recipe, Spaghetti al Limoncello.

Other good choices are the local olive oil, sundried tomatoes, and handcrafted pasta.

You'll find limoncello, olive oil, sundried tomatoes, and handcrafted pasta in all the towns of the Amalfi Coast.

Souvenirs from Venice and Verona (the Veneto)

Venice is synonymous with the art of glassmaking. On the island of Murano, watch master glassblowers at work, creating exquisite chandeliers, intricate vases, and delicate jewelry. Our glass buying guide has all the info you need.

On the colorful island of Burano, explore lace workshops and boutiques, where skilled artisans meticulously craft delicate lace pieces using traditional techniques passed down through generations. From intricate tablecloths to elegant shawls, Burano lace makes for exquisite Italian souvenirs, each piece a testament to the island's rich heritage.

Meanwhile, in Venice's historic center, the tradition of mask-making flourishes. Stores like the one in our Shopping in Venice Guide offer an array of handcrafted masks, each one is a unique work of art reflecting the city's Carnival celebrations and theatrical history. 

Do visit the strange wonderland of Acqua Alta too, and purchase something from them to support this wonderful institution.

In Verona, the city of Romeo and Juliet, artisans celebrate the region's romantic legacy through their craft. Boutiques like Medusa Bottega del Cuoio specialize in handmade leather goods, from elegant bags and belts to finely crafted wallets and accessories. 

Rome: A Tapestry of History and Culture

Tshirts in Rome

As the capital of Italy, Rome is a treasure trove of ancient landmarks, vibrant piazzas, and bustling markets. Explore the top sights in Rome and then go shopping for gifts and souvenirs.

Along the bustling streets of Campo de' Fiori and Piazza Navona, vendors tempt passersby with an array of souvenirs, from t-shirts and miniature replicas of famous landmarks to locally made artisanal products.

However, amidst the plethora of souvenirs, it's essential to distinguish between authentic Italian goods and mass-produced trinkets. Many tourists fall prey to counterfeit merchandise, often made overseas and lacking the quality and authenticity of true Italian souvenirs. To avoid disappointment, seek out boutique shops and artisanal markets that specialize in locally crafted goods.

One little store in Rome I like is Antica Cartotecnica (opened in 1930). home to handmade paper products, pens, and leather-bound journals, perfect for capturing memories of your Roman holiday with products of genuine Italian flair.

Also visit L'Artigianato - Located in Piazza Navona 84, the historic center of Rome, this shop offers a wide range of handmade crafts and artisanal products. Their selection is unbelievable, everything from miniature models of Italian cars to ceramics and like, a million things in between.

Bottega del Marmoraro located via Margutta, near the Pantheon, is great too. They specialize in marble items

Milan: Fashion and Design Capital

milan-shopping-shop-pixa.jpgThe Ultimate Shopping Mall: Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan.

Milan, renowned for its fashion and design prowess, offers a wealth of souvenirs, mostly fashion-related, for the style-conscious traveler. From haute couture boutiques to quirky concept stores, the city is a paradise for fashionistas seeking the latest trends and designer finds. Explore the Quadrilatero della Moda, Milan's prestigious fashion district, home to iconic brands like Prada, Gucci, and Versace.

For a glimpse into Milan's artisanal heritage, the Brera district is home to workshops like Laboratorio Paravicini, known for its hand-painted ceramics and bespoke tableware—exquisite Italian souvenirs that blend tradition with innovation.

Don't miss a visit to the stunning Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, either. Okay, most of the stuff in this ultimate of all shopping malls is crazy expensive, but looking is free, and your photos can be your "souvenirs."

In addition to fashion, Milan is celebrated for its innovative design scene, with renowned furniture makers and interior designers shaping the city's aesthetic identity. Design enthusiasts can browse contemporary furniture stores like Kartell and Cassina, discovering sleek Italian designs that blend form and function with effortless style.

Have a look at our Guide to Shopping in Milan for more.

Naples: Gastronomic Delights and Artisanal Crafts

the old town of NaplesNaples old town

Naples, the birthplace of pizza and home to some of Italy's finest culinary traditions, is a paradise for food lovers and souvenir hunters alike. The pizza is so good, you'll want to take some of the pizza joints home with you, as you'll never find pizza this good anywhere else. Sadly, that's not possible.

Instead, stroll through the vibrant streets of the historic center, where bustling markets offer an array of local specialties, from Neapolitan pastries to aromatic spices and artisanal cheeses. Some can't exactly be taken home, but the taste and aromas will stay with you forever.

Meanwhile, workshops in the historic Spaccanapoli district showcase traditional crafts such as cameo carving and nativity scene figurines. You'll also find workshops and boutiques showcasing handmade ceramics, and finely crafted marionettes. All made by skilled artisans practicing age-old techniques passed down through generations.

Puglia: Sun-Drenched Splendor and Rustic Charm

Ladies selling pasta in BariBari

Puglia, with its sun-drenched landscapes and whitewashed villages, offers a glimpse into the rustic beauty of southern Italy. In towns like Cisternino, Alberobello, Lecce, and Ostuni, you'll find many artisanal workshops where local craftsmen produce handmade pottery and woven textiles.

In Bari, you simply must buy the delicious homemade orecchiette pasta. It's made by the local grandmother's and sold on rickety old tables throughout the old town. My guide to Bari has everything you need to know and some important advice regarding wooden spoons.

Pick up a bottle of the local olive oil too, which many say is the finest olive in all of Italy. You'll find superb olive oil on sale throughout Puglia.

Tuscany: Artistic Heritage and Timeless Beauty

San Gimignano tower.San Gimignano

Tuscany, with its rolling hills, vineyards, and historic cities, is a treasure trove of artistic heritage and timeless beauty.  You've got so much to see in Tuscany: the Renaissance splendor of Florence, the medieval charm of Siena (one of my favorite cities in Italy), and the picturesque landscapes of the Chianti wine region.

In addition to its cultural riches, Tuscany is celebrated for its artisanal crafts. Florence is number one for these traditional crafts, as you'll see in my Shopping in Florence guide. In Florence, you can explore workshops and boutiques specializing in handmade leather goods (my favorite one is mentioned in my Florence shopping guide) and intricate gold jewelry. 

These are some of the other gifts and souvenirs to consider in Florence:

Florentine Paper: Florence has a long tradition of papermaking, and you can find beautiful stationery, journals, and notebooks made from Florentine paper. Visit shops like Giulio Giannini e Figlio to browse a stunning array of paper products.

Artisanal Jewelry: Florence is home to talented jewelry makers who create exquisite pieces inspired by Renaissance motifs. Look for unique earrings, necklaces, and bracelets crafted from gold, silver, and precious gemstones in the city's jewelry stores and artisan workshops.

Ceramics: Tuscany is renowned for its colorful ceramics, and Florence is no exception. Browse shops in the Oltrarno district for hand-painted pottery, tiles, and decorative objects that capture the beauty of Tuscan craftsmanship.

Florentine Perfumes: Perfume lovers will delight in the fragrances inspired by Florence's botanical gardens and historical landmarks. Visit boutique perfumeries like AquaFlor Firenze or Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella to discover unique scents crafted with care.

Food and Wine: Bring a taste of Tuscany home with you by purchasing local specialties such as Chianti wine, extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and truffle products. Visit gourmet shops like Pegna or Enoteca Alessi to sample and purchase these delicious treats.

Beyond Florence

In all the picturesque little towns of Tuscany, like lovely San Gimignano, you'll find family-run stores selling not only fine wines but also tasteful souvenirs like wine accessories and gourmet food products.

San Gimignano also has a great gelato store, but since you can't really pack that up and take it home, my advice is to indulge in as much gelato as you can while you are in San Gimignano.

Sicily: Island Treasures and Mediterranean Flavors

stairs-taormina-sicily-pixa.jpgCeramics in Taormina, Sicily

Sicily, with its ancient ruins, baroque cities, and sun-drenched beaches, is a land of contrasts and cultural riches. You have so much to see: the historic streets of Palermo, Cefalu, and Savoca, the enchanting beauty of Taormina, and the awe-inspiring majesty of Mount Etna are just a fraction of what awaits.

In Palermo, the island's vibrant capital, you'll love wandering through bustling markets like the Ballarò and Vucciria, where vendors sell everything from fresh produce and local cheeses to handcrafted ceramics and Sicilian sweets.

So, what are the gifts and souvenirs to buy in Sicily? See below...

  1. Ceramics: Sicilian ceramics are famous for their intricate designs and vibrant colors, reflecting the island's multicultural heritage. Look for hand-painted pottery, tiles, and decorative items in traditional workshops found in towns like Caltagirone, Santo Stefano di Camastra, and Sciacca.
  2. Sicilian Wines: Discover the flavors of Sicily through its world-renowned wines. From robust reds like Nero d'Avola to aromatic whites such as Grillo, Sicily produces a variety of exceptional wines. Visit local vineyards or specialty wine shops to sample and purchase bottles to take home.
  3. Sweets and Pastries: Treat yourself to Sicily's delectable sweets and pastries, which are a reflection of the island's culinary heritage. Look for traditional delights like cannoli, cassata, almond pastries, and marzipan fruits in local bakeries and pastry shops.
  4. Local Handicrafts: Explore Sicily's artisanal crafts, including hand-woven textiles, embroidered linens, and intricately carved woodwork. Visit markets and craft fairs in cities like Palermo, Catania, and Taormina to find unique handmade souvenirs crafted by local artisans.
  5. Sicilian Olive Oil: Take home a taste of Sicily with a bottle of locally produced olive oil. Sicily's fertile land and Mediterranean climate yield high-quality olives, resulting in exceptional olive oils prized for their rich flavor and versatility in cooking.
  6. Cultural Artifacts: Explore Sicily's archaeological sites and museums to find replicas or souvenirs inspired by the island's ancient past. Look for miniature replicas of ancient Greek and Roman artifacts, pottery, and jewelry that pay homage to Sicily's historical legacy.

Souvenirs from Liguria

Vernazza, Cinque TerreVernazza, Cinque Terre

Liguria, with its rugged coastline, picturesque villages, and culinary delights, is a paradise for travelers seeking sun, sea, and authentic Italian experiences. There is so much to explore, some of my favorites are the colorful fishing villages of the Cinque Terre, the wonderful Gulf of Poets, and the glamorous resort town of Portofino

So what are the gifts and souvenirs from Liguria that you should consider purchasing? Well, as most tourists to Liguria visit the Cinque Terre, I will focus on this area. Here is your shopping list:

Handmade Ceramics: Several shops in the Cinque Terre offer beautifully crafted ceramics, including plates, bowls, and tiles, often adorned with colorful designs inspired by the coastal scenery.

Local Artwork: Explore the galleries and art studios in towns like Vernazza and Corniglia to find unique paintings, prints, and sculptures created by local artists, capturing the beauty of the Cinque Terre landscapes.

Olive Oil and Pesto: The Ligurian region, where the Cinque Terre is located, is famous for its high-quality olive oil and pesto sauce. Look for authentic, locally produced bottles to bring a taste of Liguria home with you. Read the ingredient list carefully to make sure that it is made only with olive oil and not vegetable or sunflower oil (olio vegatale or olio girasole in Italian).

Handwoven Textiles: Seek out boutiques and artisanal shops offering handwoven textiles, such as scarves, shawls, and tablecloths, made using traditional techniques passed down through generations.

Sea-themed Jewelry: Browse jewelry shops along the coastal towns for pieces inspired by the sea, featuring shells, pearls, and nautical motifs, perfect for a reminder of your time in the Cinque Terre.

Piedmont: Culinary Delights and Alpine Beauty

Galleria San FedericoGalleria San Federico Shopping Mall in Turin

Piedmont, with the rolling hills of the Langhe wine region  snow-capped peaks, gorgeous towns and villages, and the great city of Turin, is a land of culinary delights and breathtaking beauty. I lived in Turin for ten years and loved it. This truly is one of the most amazing and awe-inspiring regions of Italy.

These are the souvenirs and gifts from Piedmont to look out for:

  1. Barolo and Barbaresco Wines: Piedmont is home to some of Italy's most prestigious wine regions, including Barolo and Barbaresco. Take home a bottle or two of these world-class red wines, known for their complex flavors and aging potential. Visit local wineries for tastings and to purchase directly from the producers.
  2. Truffles: Piedmont is famous for its prized white truffles, often referred to as "white gold." Truffle products such as truffle oil, truffle salt, and truffle-infused sauces make for luxurious souvenirs that capture the essence of Piedmont's gastronomy. Visit Alba, the truffle capital of the world, to find an array of truffle products.
  3. Hazelnut Products: Piedmont is known for its high-quality hazelnuts, particularly those from the town of Cortemilia. Indulge in locally made hazelnut chocolates, gianduja (hazelnut chocolate spread), and torrone (nougat) for a taste of Piedmont's sweet delights. You may have heard of Piedmont's most famous chocolate and hazelnut spread, the ubiquitous Nutella. If you love Nutella you'll be pleased to discover that their are even better versions of it which are rarely sold outside of Piedmont.
  4. Cheese: Cheese lovers will delight in Piedmont's artisanal cheeses, such as Castelmagno, Bra, and Toma Piemontese. Visit local cheesemakers or specialty shops to sample and purchase these flavorful cheeses, perfect for enjoying with bread, wine, and cured meats. One of the best places to buy cheese is the small town of Saluzzo, there's a tiny little store in that town that I simple adore,
  5. Ceramics: Explore Piedmont's ceramic traditions by purchasing handcrafted pottery and ceramics. Look for beautifully decorated plates, bowls, and tiles featuring traditional Piedmontese motifs. Visit ceramic workshops in towns like Mondovì and Saluzzo to find unique pieces directly from the artisans.
  6. Artisanal Liqueurs: Piedmont produces a variety of artisanal liqueurs, including the famous Barolo Chinato and grappa. These aromatic spirits make excellent souvenirs and are perfect for sipping as a digestif or incorporating into cocktails.
  7. Chocolate: Turin, the capital of Piedmont, is known as the chocolate capital of Italy. Treat yourself to some mouthwatering chocolates from historic chocolatiers such as Caffarel, Peyrano, and Guido Gobino. From classic gianduiotti to innovative chocolate creations, there's something for every chocolate lover to enjoy.
Chocolates in Turin

Making Informed Choices: Avoiding Fake Souvenirs

While Italy offers a wealth of authentic souvenirs to treasure, it's essential to be wary of counterfeit merchandise, especially in popular tourist destinations like Rome, Florence, and Venice. Many vendors sell mass-produced trinkets masquerading as genuine Italian souvenirs, often imported from overseas and lacking the quality and craftsmanship of authentic goods.

To ensure you're purchasing genuine Italian souvenirs, seek out reputable shops and artisanal markets that specialize in locally crafted products. By supporting local artisans and businesses, you'll not only bring home meaningful mementos of your Italian adventure but also contribute to the preservation of Italy's rich cultural heritage.

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