Souvenir shopping is something I am feeling passionate about! I like to bring joy to my friends and family back home. So they know I have been thinking about them even during my trip. To see, I have been looking around to find this special something just for them. And I like to share stories about my travel next to a glass of wine or a cup of tea that was brought from a trip.
But souvenir shopping can also be very stressful! Especially because I don’t want to bring back home the same fridge magnet to everyone.
Don’t get me wrong- I really like fridge magnets!
But I only have a few friends who enjoy them as much as I do. So I often feel stressed about what to buy, where to buy it, what is the fair price of it etc. Hopefully, the following will help you feel less stressed about souvenir shopping in Italy.
If you like it, you should buy it now!
We have visited different regions in Italy and bought several souvenirs from all those locations. My first suggestion is: When you see something that you like at a suitable price range- buy it!
I have made this mistake several times, hoping to find the same item somewhere else with a better price, or just planning to buy it later. Most of the time I haven’t found the exact item elsewhere. Also, there may not be as many souvenir shops or as good selection in the next place where you are going. And the selection is probably different as well.
Don’t worry too much about the “right” region
One of the main things that caused me stress, was the suggestion, that you have to buy certain souvenirs only from certain regions. For example- you should buy pistachio products from Sicily, lemon products from Amalfi and Murano glass from Venice. What makes it hard is that they sell most of those items in every region. And if you are travelling to more than one region in one trip, it can become difficult to keep that all in mind.
Don’t get me wrong, this suggestion isn’t bad but you shouldn’t stress too much about it. If you will buy your pistachio liqueur somewhere else than Sicily- don’t worry, it’s still from Italy!
As our blog name also indicates- I am a real fan of fridge magnets! They are relatively cheap, they are easy to find from everywhere and they are great little reminders of your travels every time you open your fridge. Also, there are always a different variety of magnets from a different price range that everyone should find something to like. Plus they don’t take much room in your luggage.
My absolute favourite Italian souvenir to buy is food!! I am a big foodie myself and I also like the practical aspect of it. And if you don’t have too much time or don’t want to be bothered with searching for Italian souvenirs, a bottle of olive oil, a bag of biscuits or pasta is always useful.
When you think about food and Italy, the first thing that will appear is pasta. There are many different shapes and colours. Choose whichever you like the most! And Italian pasta is not only effective looking, it probably will taste much better than at your home. Or at least it is so in Estonia.
Little tip- you can find a pretty good selection of effective-looking pasta also from the supermarkets. And relatively cheaper than in the souvenir shops.
My personal favourites are orecchiette and cavatelli. The only problem is, that because the selection is so wide, you can end up buying more pasta than will fit into your suitcase 😀
The next thing that comes to mind, when I think of Italy and food, is cheese. The most famous ones of course are parmigiano reggiano and mozzarella. If you are a cheese-lover like me, I suggest you eat as much buffalo mozzarella and burrata as you can, in Italy. But since they don’t travel well, the best ones to bring home are still parmigiano or some other Italian hard cheese. The variety is huge- choose whichever seems interesting to you.
The next thing that will go well with pasta and cheese is pesto. The pesto genovese originated in Genova, Liguria. And it is one of the main things to buy in Cinque Terre. And the variety of pestos there is huge. But of course, you can buy it anywhere you like. It is still very good.
Also, about souvenirs in Cinque Terre- everything is much cheaper in the nearby villages (e.g Levanto), than in the actual 5 villages of Cinque Terre. I found out that the same bottle of wine can cost you almost 2x more in Cinque Terre than in Levanto. Also, the pasta was about 2 euros more expensive in Cinque Terre souvenir shops.
If you want something different, I suggest you try white hazelnut pesto.
If you are travelling by plane- keep in mind that you won’t put your pesto in your carry-on luggage. It counts as a liquid and they will probably take it away from you.
Sweets and snacks
One of my absolute favourites, which I will buy every time I am visiting Italy, is Taralli. And especially salty ones with sesame seeds. Taralli is similar to pretzels or breadsticks but the taste is addictive. They are more common in Southern Italia but should be found also elsewhere.
One of the best products which keep well is cantucci and cantuccini. They are twice-baked, dry, crunchy biscuits. We usually know them by the name biscotti, but biscotti actually means cookies in Italian. Cantuccini are smaller cantucci. You can find a lot of different varieties of them in Italy.
If you are visiting Turin and not in the summertime, I suggest you a Gianduiotti chocolate. It is usually individually wrapped in golden foil chocolate which is produced from a paste of sugar, cocoa and a special kind of hazelnut: Tonda Gentile delle Langhe. But they are not very cheap. Small bag with approximately 5 candies costs around 5 euros, and a larger bag with 10 candies costs around 8-10 euros.
You can find almost anything with truffles in Italy. Starting with sliced truffles, truffle cream, pasta, pesto, risotto and ending up with truffle honey. The best “truffle regions” in Italy are Piemonte and Tuscany. The “White truffle capital of the world” title belongs to Alba, which is a really lovely town in the Piemonte region. If you are travelling in this area, I suggest you visit Alba.
I have not once left Italy without bringing at least a few bottles of Italian wine with me! I have my favourites but every time I visit Italy, I try some new wines from different wine cellars. Most of them are not sold in my country And even if they are, the price is much cheaper in Italy.
Last time in Italy, we went to wine tasting in Bussi Piero winery and brought home some really good wines from there.
Also, a bottle of limoncello is a must-have Italian souvenir. Or if you are a sweet tooth, you should try pistachio liqueur or crema di limoncello. If you want something more interesting-looking, then you can find limoncello in different shaped bottles and any sizes from most of the souvenir shops.
Positano handmade sandals
Although Italy is famous for its fashion and leather products, I am not usually buying clothes, shoes or bags as a gift. But since Positano sandals are so famous, I had to buy myself a pair when visiting Amalfi. You can read more about Positano’s handmade sandals from this post.
I am not a big fan of trinkets, but in Italy, you can always find ceramics that is also practical. My favourites are pizza cutters, cake shovels and ladle trays. Vietri sul Mare is probably the most famous for its ceramics- but you can find it anywhere. In different regions the images are different but the overall idea is the same. I have tried to buy my ceramics from different regions. The hardest one to find for me was a cake spatula. But it is also my favourite!
If you are travelling light and don’t want to carry on your souvenirs- you can always send home a postcard. The most difficult part for us was to find the right stamp for the right mailbox. Yellow mailboxes are used by a private company that uses GPS stamps. Italian postal service has red mailboxes. I haven’t had a problem with this yellow mailbox system, but I have read some really angry stories about them.
The estimated delivery time to Europe is 10-15 working days and to the rest of the world 10-25 working days.
Sending a card is also a quite cheap souvenir alternative. Sending a card to Europe with Poste Italian costs approximately 1.2€, to Asia and America it should be under 3€. The last time we used it, the price was about the same as this GPS yellow mailbox system.
The best part about souvenirs is that they are a reminder of your trip. You can share your stories about your travel when you are handing them over. Also, every time you are looking at the souvenirs that you bought for yourself, you will be reminded of the good time you had during your trip. And for me- they always make me feel that I can’t wait to go back travelling.0