In addition to the cultural and historical attractions that draw people to Italy, the shopping is definately a spectacular attraction in itself. Clothing from top fashion designers, world famous glass art and ceramics, and of course some of the best wines in the world all provide a vast array of possible gifts for people of all interests.
Some of the top designers in the world call Italy home, including Armani, Gucci, Versace, Prada, and Dolce & Gabbana. Clothes, shoes, hats, luggage, and athletic apparel is available and often at good bargains from thrift and outlet stores or during big sale seasons. Clothing designed by top Italian fashion houses is often less expensive when bought in Italy. Cashmere, linen, and leather are all good things to buy while in Italy as well. Milan, Florence, and Rome are known as the centers of the fashion world in Italy, but many smaller towns have high-end shops as well. In Milan, the best places to go are the Duomo area and the famous quadrilatero della moda, or fashion square.
Gifts of Glass
Like its fashion, Italian glass is also world famous. This naturally makes it another popular gift idea. The islands of Murano and Burano near Venice and Empoli in Tuscany are famous glassmaking centers. Beautiful glass items of all different types can be found in these areas, including vases, glasses, teacups, and especially jewlery made out of glass. Negotiating the price is not only fun, but can also lead to some satisfying savings. Insurance is also recommended if you ship your purchases home as they are usually both fairly expensive and very fragile.
Artistic and traditional Italian ceramics make excellent gifts. Deruta in Umbria, Siena in Tuscany, Nove in Veneto, and Faenza in Emilia-Romagna are renowned for their beautiful pottery. Vietri sul Mare in Campania is known for ceramic tiles, and Ravenna in Emilia-Romagna is known for mosaics. Dinner sets, cups, and mugs are all wonderful gifts to be found in these areas.
Wines from Italy
Perhaps the most common gift vacationers bring home from Italy is wine. Italian wine is some of the best in the world, and thankfully the quality stays exceptional even as the price drops. The best way to buy any type of wine is from the region in which it is produced. Often sold in boxes of three bottles, it is a gift that is sure to bring pleasure to its recipients, although you may want to bring back plenty since it may not last very long.
Other Miscellaneous Gifts
Some other wonderful gifts to take home from Italy that can be found throughout the country are lacework, jewelry, woodwork, marble, silk, prosciutto, Venetian masks, books, hiking equipment and outerwear, linen, various leather goods, and different types of local art. For musicians, several regions are famous for the musical instruments they produce, such as Cremona in Lombardy for violins and Castelfidaro in Marche for accordions, guitars and organs. When searching for a gift without something specific in mind, Italy’s wonderful outdoor markets, with their diverse assortment of merchandise, are a great place to look for inspiration. The markets in San Lorenzo and Pisciotta in Florence and Trastevere in Rome are especially delightful.
Many shops in large cities and tourist areas are open from 9:30am to 7:30pm, Monday through Saturday, although many are closed for a midday lunch period which can last anywhere from one to four hours. Sale seasons, which fall during the second week of January and July, are great times to shop. Most stores offer tax-free shopping for tourists through a system of rebates redeemed at Customs, although there are stores that are entirely duty free.
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