After you have enjoyed your holiday, the question that inevitably comes to mind is: What can you bring home from Italy? With gift options ranging from fashion to food to art décor, there are countless types of Italy souvenirs you can choose from. Find here what I think is a perfect selection of souvenirs from Italy you can bring home for your friends and family and for yourself to relive your travel memories, be it recreating a recipe or wearing a trendy dress.
The Best Italy Souvenirs To Bring Home
Italy Souvenirs for Fashion Lovers
Italy is famous for its fashion designers and you will find something for every budget. So if you don’t feel like forking out good cash, don’t worry, there are plenty of nice boutiques selling beautiful pieces of clothes, trousers, dresses, skirts, jumpers, shirts and blouses. I usually like to shop in private boutiques and some of the brands I like to check out are Nero Giardini, sometimes Sandro Ferrone (not too expensive) and Nara Camicie for blouses.
If you wish to see the stores of the big designers, in cities like Rome and Milan you will find the exclusive shopping streets, such as Via dei Condotti in Rome, and many big names are there including Valentino, Dolce & Gabbana, Bulgari, Gucci, Prada and more.
As for clothes, some of the best things to buy in Italy if you like to stay updated with the latest fashion trends are shoes. Most giants of the fashion show have also shoes in their stores, but again, if you don’t want to spend big bucks, some affordable names for great shoes are Nero Giardini, Igi&Co, and Geox. There are also the shops of artisan shoemakers selling their own creations and some are very beautiful, mostly made in leather.
Being so strong in fashion, Italy couldn’t lack in beautiful jewelry. Whether you go for a bracelet, a pair of earrings or a necklace, this is one of the best gifts from Italy, lightweight and easy to pack!
Across the country you can find national brands like Bulgari and Morellato, but if you go local, many regions have their own precious handicrafts, like the gorgeous Sardinian filigree made even more precious by pieces of Mediterranean coral from Alghero and black obsidian volcanic stone.
Bags and Purses
Accessories can make or break your outfit, and in Italy we know this very well. Even though the trend of shoes and bags of the same color is not a thing anymore, both accessories are of utmost importance.
Some of my favorite brands that are not too expensive for bags and wallets are Coccinelle and Furla, a bit pricier, and Carpisa for something cheaper and casual. If you don’t mind spending, check out Armani, Fendi and Gucci.
Florence is famous for its leather goods and you will find plenty of them on display across the city center. Bags, jackets, wallets, shoes, you can find just about everything and all easy to pack and carry.
Souvenirs from Italy for Foodies
Fresh or dry, pasta is always one of the best souvenirs you can bring home from Italy. The quality of locally-made Italian pasta is superior for a fraction of the price you would be charged if you buy the same product in your home country. Fresh pasta gives you a more authentic experience but it also spoils pretty quickly and needs to be kept in the fridge, while dry pasta has a longer duration.
Made in different shapes and with different grains, Italian pasta is a great gift for anyone no matter the preferences and the intolerances. Nowadays in Italy, ancient grains are all the rage and to be honest always my main choice for a deeper flavor and healthier option. Search for the wording “grani antichi” on the label and enjoy your yummy Italian souvenir at home!
Herbs and spices
What’s a pasta dish without the right sauce? If you buy one, you can’t leave Italy without buying also one of the many herbs and spice blends you will find in stores and markets to make a perfect pasta sauce. Chilly, savory, red, or green, these small sachets will make your dinner and save you plenty of time.
Parmigiano Reggiano anyone? Probably the most famous Italian cheese around the world, parmigiano from Bologna and the Emilia Romagna region is easy to pack whether you are buying a piece of it or grated. However, it’s not the only cheese you can take home with you from Italy. Pecorino romano is another tasty option that it’s not difficult to pack, while fresh cheese types like burrata from Puglia, frue from Sardinia or Naples’ buffalo mozzarella are a bit trickier.
No matter what your preferences are, cheese is a great souvenir from Italy if you want to recreate an Italian dish at home to rekindle your travel memories and make some for your family and friends.
Cured meat and cold cuts
Sausages of Cinta Senese, prosciutto di Parma, mortadella from Bologna, Valtellina’s bresaola, Lazio’s norcineria and soppressata from Calabria are only some of Italy’s famous cured meat. Used for cooking, starters or aperitif, they make for great souvenirs from Italy to recreate at home your perfect Italian meal.
Chianti from Tuscany, Barolo from Piedmont or Vernaccia from Sardinia, all regions have their own wines, another favorite if you are wondering what to buy in Italy during your trip. You can find the wine section in every supermarket but for highest quality and wider choice, I suggest you enter a local enoteca, wine shop, where they often arrange tastings, aperitifs and sometime they also make casual meals.
Extra-virgin Olive Oil
Olive oil is a big pride in Italy and one of the most used ingredients especially on the south. Whether it’s for cooking, for making a raw pesto or to simply to season a salad, olive oil gives that extra flavor you are not going to find in any other vegetable oil.
However, it needs to be high-quality, otherwise, it simply won’t deliver. In fact, it needs to be extra-virgin to be the best type, and even better if it’s organic. On the label, search for the wording “bio or biologico” for organic and “extravergine” for extra-virgin.
Original Balsamic Vinegar
Originally from Modena, you will probably find the best artisan balsamic vinegar, but you can find a good all over the country. If you like the taste and want to combine it with many dishes apart from a salad, you can find also buy balsamic cream and “glassa”, glaze. This is delicious on top of grilled veggies, too, so a great Italy souvenir for both vegetarians and meat-eaters.
Present in several northern and central regions, Piedmont, Tuscany and Umbria being some of the richest, truffles come in a few varieties and are usually either black and white. When I find “tartufo” on some pasta dishes or pizza on restaurants’ menus, I always order it. With its own flavor hard to compare to anything else, a little sprinkle of truffle gives an extra kick to any simple recipe making it a sophisticated dish.
You can find the most diverse truffle products, from truffle-flavored oil to creams, truffle-flavored cheese as well as small pieces of this fine mushroom you can grate to enrich any culinary creation. It’s the most expensive mushroom, but a small piece goes a long way and if you know someone who likes it, this is definitely an exclusive gift you can bring home from Italy.
Cookies and traditional sweets
Hard cookies, soft sweets, cakes and sweet types of bread, if you are a sweet tooth, get ready to gain some extra kg while in Italy. While pastries and cookies are relatively light and easy to pack, probably a whole cake can give you more problems. However, if you are in Italy around Christmas and want to bring a Panettone with you, that’s pretty easy to carry without smashing it because it’s soft. I, myself, brought a whole Easter dove all the way from Italy to Iran and it reached just fine.
Some local cookies and pastries you can easily pack and make for a delicious gift from Italy are the Tuscan cantucci, Sardinian papassini or sospiri, Rome’s pangiallo or mostacciuoli, Liguria’s canestrelli, Umbria’s panpepato, and the delicious taralli dolci from Puglia.
In several cities you will find artisan chocolate factories, the perfect souvenir from Italy for the sweet tooth. In Rome, don’t miss a visit with aperitif to Said dal 1923 in San Lorenzo neighborhood (Via Tiburtina 135), an ancient chocolate factory with lab, shop and eatery where they serve different types of meals and chocolate-based drinks.
If you are in Turin, one of the top factories and shops is Guido Gobino (Via Lagrange 1/A), fantastic place for real artisan goods, the finest chocolate, delicious and quite expensive.
The most famous might be Sorrento’s Limoncello, but the strong lemon-based liqueur is not the only after-meal drink in Italy. Just like for many things, liqueurs are also regional and made with typical local ingredients. So in Sardinia, you will find the much-loved Mirto made with wild myrtle berries, in Saronno the sweet almond-based Amaretto, and Nocino from Emilia Romagna made with walnuts.
Homeware, art and collectibles from Italy
Pottery, ceramics and porcelaine
From Umbria, to Campania, to Sicily, southern Italy is pretty strong in ceramics handicrafts. Even though Caltagirone in Sicily really boasts one of the longest and most famous ceramics traditions, you can buy beautiful pottery to use in the kitchen or just for home ornaments all across the country.
In fact, some great examples spruce up the shop windows of Florence city center and also regions like Sardinia and Piedmont offer high-quality products. Colorful or sober, traditional ceramics pottery and objects make for fantastic souvenirs from Italy and always appreciated gifts.
Whichever region you are in, you will find plenty of fridge magnets representing the most popular tourist landmarks and local symbols. Granted, this is not much of an original souvenir, but it always works when you want to remember a place you have visited and definitely one of the most common souvenirs to bring home from Italy.
Although in places like Rome or Assisi you are bound to find a much wider choice of religion-inspired art, jewelry and postcards, calendars and Pope’s images are sold all over the country.
Plates, statues, crosses to either hang on the wall or wear on a necklace, t-shirts, fridge magnets and all types of souvenirs are the perfect gift from Italy for your religious friends and relatives.
Moka coffee machine
You can probably buy an espresso machine in your hometown, but for an original moka pot, your only way is to travel to Italy. I love espresso, but in my mind, the smell of just-made coffee in the morning for a typical Italian breakfast comes from the moka. Making a longer and lighter coffee than a bar’s espresso, you can also decide how strong you want it by balancing coffee and water.
Carnival in Italy carries days of celebrations and inevitably plenty of gift shopping options. From the colorful Venetian masks to the rustic, wooden masks of Mamoiada’s Mamuthones in Sardinia, these are great Italy souvenirs to hang on your wall to add an international twist to your home décor.
Our tips for shopping in Italy and how to bring your souvenirs home!
Shop in the right region
Every region has its own products so when buying Italian souvenirs, it’s always best to choose what your holiday destination has to offer. This will inevitably improve the quality of what you buy, especially when it comes to food.
Read the label
When buying food, it’s always recommended to read the label. Some of the wording you need to search for are DOP (Denominazione di Origine Protetta), IGP (Indicazione Geografica Protetta), DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) and DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita). You definitely want to buy a DOC or DOCG wine and DOP Parmigiano Reggiano.
Head to a local market
When shopping for local foods, farmers’ markets are the first places to check out. Usually weekly, enquire with your host where and when you can find the Coldiretti markets. If you are not in the area when they set them up, visit the daily Mercato Civico every town and city has.
Prefer deli stores
Similarly to local markets, delis sell regional goods from local producers of much better quality compared to large chain stores. They are smaller than supermarkets and they are in every city and you can hardly go wrong if you buy there your food souvenirs from Italy.
Check-in the liquids
Liquids need to be checked in and can’t be packed in your hand luggage. Make sure you keep this in mind before buying your favorite bottle of wine and ask the merchant to ship it if you are not traveling with a larger suitcase.
Not only for wines and liquids but also for fragile valuable objects, it might be worth enquiring with the sellers if they do shipping to make sure you get everything in one piece.
Rome-based travel writer, blogger and photographer.