Italy is known for a lot of things, fashion houses like Gucci and Versace, car brands, like Ferrari and Fiat. Though the country as a whole has many products to be proud of, each city and town in Italy also has its specific trade and specialty. Here is a list of just a few things you should buy next time you’re in Italy and where you should buy them from.
1. Gold or Silver Jewelry from Florence
Back in 1593, Grand Duke Ferdinando I de’ Medici commanded all the gold and silversmiths to move to Florence. He wanted to keep an eye on their work and needed them close at hand. Since then jewelry artists have flourished in the city for years. The best location to purchase authentic jewelry near the Ponte Vecchio bridge, where jewelry makers have been since Medici’s edict.
2. Lace from Burano
Located just outside of Venice, the island of Burano has long been known for its lace production. The tradition goes back to the 17th-century and began to expand with the establishment of Burano’s lace school in the 19th-century. The school operated for 100 years replicating Venetian needle lace designs and even coming up with new designs. Burano’s lace manufacturing eventually fell out of favor when cheaper Asian imports hit the market, but lace artisans still remain on the island today.
3. Balsamic Vinegar from Modena
Modena is one of only two places in Italy where you can purchase true balsamic vinegar. Balsamic produced elsewhere are not authentic. The vinegar has been around since the 1000s when historians discovered the first reference to the product. Often, balsamic vinegar was started on the day of someone’s birth, and then the finished produced was gifted to them on their wedding day. Modena only produces about 10,000 bottles a year, making this a highly sought after souvenir.
4. Terra Cotta from Impruneta
Impruneta has had a long tradition of terra cotta going back to the 14th-century with the guild of Impruneta’s kiln men founded in 1309. The town is known for its iconic terra cotta roof tiles and their production of dishes, vases, etc. There are currently 17 kilns in operation today, and the artisans use some of the same techniques used centuries ago.
5. Glass from Murano
The Venetians established themselves as glassmakers back in the 8th-century. By the 1200s, it was a major export of the city. They established the Glassmakers Guild around this time to protect their trade secrets and even passed a law that prevented foreign glass from being imported into the city. The island of Murano had some of the most talented artisans of the day and have continued the tradition into the modern-day. Murano is said to be the glass blowing capital of the world.
6. Chocolates from Perugia
Perugia is known for the best chocolate makers and for hosting a famous annual chocolate festival. Four men established the Perugia Confectionary Society in 1907 and eventually began producing Perugia’s best-known product, Baci, chocolates with a whole hazelnut in the center. Later in 1993, the first EuroChocolate Festival was held and has since grown into the biggest chocolate festival in Europe.
7. Limoncello from Capri
Limoncello is said to have originated in the 20th-century in a small bar on the island of Capri. Many others claim the liqueur has deeper roots than that, but Capri, and the Amalfi Coast, are the best spots to purchase Limoncello. The region is known for its lemon production, and the climate allows the fruit to grow a thicker skin, which increases the flavor in the liqueur.
- Terra Cotta [Tuscany Villas]
- Limoncello [Italy Magazine]
- Balsamic Vinegar [The Gift of Oil]
- Burano Lace [Britannica]
- Murano Glass History [Glass of Venice]
- Perugia City of Chocolate [The Tuscan Gun]
- Feature Picture [Need Pix]