Most people associate Italy with designer clothing, shoes, pasta, olive oil and wine. While all those are correct, we found many other things worth trying and/or buying on your next visit to Italy. These are the things we loved in our trip to the Amalfi Coast and Tuscany in Italy.
1-Handmade Sandals – The Amalfi Coast is famous for their handmade sandals. They have soles with different heel heights, straps and upper designs separately and you choose the combination that you want. They put them together in minutes while you wait. They are considerably less expensive in Positano or Amalfi than in Capri. I couldn’t resist and got a pair! I bought mine in a store called Safari in Positano. www.safaripositano.com
2- O Bags – This is a popular Italian brand and there are many stores in Italy and other countries of Europe. These bags are very versatile because you can customize them as you wish. Although they are distributed in the U.S, they don’t have the popularity they have in Italy. The styles I saw in the US webpage are very ugly compared to the beautiful combinations I saw in Italy. www.obagonline.com
3- Cotton/Linen Clothes – Everywhere in the Amalfi Coast you will see a store called Antica Sartoria by Giacomo Cinque www.anticasartoria.com. They sell mostly white cotton clothes with a fresh, summer look, known as “Moda Positano”. This store originated in Positano in the 1960’s and is very iconic of the coastal area. They also have stores in Rome, Venice and Florence and in October of 2016 opened their first store in the U.S. in Palm Beach, Florida. There are other stores that also sell great linen outfits for women. For the gentlemen, there are many stores that sell linen shirts & pants for that sexy Italian look!
4- Limoncello and everything lemon – The Amalfi Coast has the best lemons in the world, reason why this area is heaven for lemon lovers. Limoncello is a lemon liqueur mainly produced in Southern Italy and it is usually served chilled in small ceramic glasses, as an after dinner digestive. Make sure you try it and bring some home.
Another lemon delicacy is a dessert called “Delizie al limone”. It is a rounded sponge cake filled with lemon custard. The best ones I had were at the Tramonto D’Oro Hotel in Praiano and at the Sal De Riso Pasticceria in Minori (both in the Amalfi Coast).
5- Artwork – If you like to buy artwork from the places you visit, there are beautiful paintings with views of the area.
6- Go to a Pasticceria – This is the Italian pastry shop and you can get there all kinds of delicious pastries, coffee or tea. Make sure you visit them frequently during your trip to Italy. In many areas of Italy, stores and restaurants close from 3 to 7 pm but you will find the pasticceria open. This is the time to relax, sit down and have a coffee and a pastry.
7- Stylish Coffee Makers – I don’t drink coffee, but I love coffee making machines and Italy is for sure a place to get some chic, stylish coffee makers.
8-Everything with Truffle – Tuscany is one of the most important regions in Italy for truffle production. Late summer into early fall is truffle season, so make sure you try foods with truffle in them (specially white truffle) and/or buy your preferred products to bring back home such as truffle butter, honey, oil, etc.
9- Alabaster – The city of Volterra is famous for their Alabaster craftsmanship. Alabaster is a chalky white stone which is mined in the area and Volterra is famous for having the finest alabaster in the world. There is a huge variety of items that are hand carved, so take a look on your next visit. Don’t want to carry what you purchased? No problem. Most stores offer shipping services to anywhere in the world.
10- Pesto – In one of the five fishing villages of Cinque Terre, called Vernazza the specialty is Pesto. They produce it and it is delicious. When you visit Cinque Terre, have lunch or dinner in Vernazza, so that you can taste their pesto dishes. You can also buy a bottle to take it home.
11- Gelato – All over Italy you can find home made gelato. Make sure you try as many flavors as possible. It is divine and will make you very happy. (This is my biased opinion). As a friend of mine said, “Everything is better with gelato”.
12- Mozzarella di Buffala – This is mozzarella cheese made from the milk of the domestic Italian water buffalo. It is traditionally produced in the Campania region, so you will find it in menus if you go to the Amalfi Coast. It is creamier and softer than the regular mozzarella, so if you see a salad, pizza or pasta made with mozzarella di buffalo, go for it. You won’t regret it!
13- Ceramics – Although I am not a fan of the intricate floral designs that usually these ceramics have, there are many options to choose from if you like ceramics. Major stores will ship anywhere in the world, so you don’t have to carry it home.
14- Wine, Pasta & Olive Oil … of course!
Wine – The Tuscan region is famous for its wine production, specially the Chianti Classico in the Chianti Region. This area also produces a sweet dessert wine called Vin Santo which is worth trying. If you have the opportunity, rent a car and drive the SR222 road called the Chiantigiana Road. It has beautiful Tuscan scenery and there are many wineries where you can go for wine tastings. We visited Castello di Verrazano www.verrazzano.com/en & Antinori Chianti Classico. www.antinorichianticlassico.it
Olive Oil – Italy is producer of one of the best olive oils in the world, so enjoy it with your bread & food every time you have lunch or dinner and bring some home if you want.
Pasta – Try as many fresh pasta dishes as you can. Depending on the region of Italy you are visiting, you will find different pasta combinations (ie. pasta with seafood in the southern area, etc.). If you want to bring some home, try the packaged pasta in a variety of fun colors and shapes.
This is the list of things that caught our attention. We wanted to share it with you, so you can try them on your next trip to Italy. Let us know which ones are your favorites or other things that you have tried and liked during your visits to Italy.
Also buy the Italian clothes and shoes, but I don’t have to tell you that. Ha, ha, ha.
DON’T WAIT, MAKE A PLAN, POSTPONE NOTHING.