I'm trying to think of what to bring back for people. Anyone go to Italy and find great gifts/souveniers/items that didn't take up their entire suitcase? I'm not sure I'd want to spend a ton of money shipping glass items around the world, but smaller ones might be okay.
We loved the wine stoppers we saw everywhere and the price varied from 3 to 35EU. We even went to Murano to compare and got so confused we ended up getting breadsticks and chocolate at the IperCoop.
Leather....wallets, change purses, etc.
For any sports fans, buy some soccer (il calcio over there) team scarves. They fold up to nothing and cost about 5 euros each. I have several hanging in my room right now and they look great/remind me of my wonderful trip.
If they are Catholic there are a ton of rosaries all over Italy. Most are tacky and junky, but they make nice little souvenirs and gifts.
Wine stoppers are sold all over the place too. They don't take up much room.
Silk ties and scarves
I love small ceramic bowls, spoon rests, items like that. You might also consider bringing home sea salt for the cooks...really inexpensive in the Co-Op stores, yet $$ here at home. Easy to pack and carry on, no restrictions.
I love shopping the grocery stores for gifts...always something different, chocolate bars, hot chocolate mixes...even Nutela in different containers.
you can also bring home hard cheeses if shrink wrapped. Fun to get a small assortment to enjoy at home.
Ellen, thanks for reminding me. We usually save any leftover Euros for when we get to the airport in Europe on our way home. Then we blow it all on chocolate! We'd rather get tomes of chocolate than pay an exchange rate when we get back. This also makes great gifts, as almost everyone agrees that European chocolate is head and shoulders above American chocolate.
I bought the most beautiful leather gloves. They were super cheap but the leather is just gorgeous. I even got a pair of cashmere lined ones with are just great in winter. I got mine in Florence but I saw shops all over Italy selling them.
From Venice we brought Murano small rose vases.They were easy to transport and well received.
Purely by chance when I was in Venice a few years ago my watch died, so I was "forced" to buy a new one. They have cheap watches all over with millifiore glass around the rim of the watch. I think I paid $40 for mine. I can't tell you how many compliments I have gotten for that cheap watch over the years, and it doesn't take up any room in the suitcase. We've also brought back table linens and dishtowels, which fold flat and don't take up room. Also Italy is known for great design on run of the mill kitchen gadgets, which are inexpensive there and very costly here.
Cathy, I brought back some small (5x7) artist water color paintings of scenes from Italy. The artists sell them all over. Not all are great, but you can find better ones. They don't have to be expensive either. My friend was so impressed that I brought her a small painting. Bargin with the artist (or any r in retailer) for a discount...seriously when they quote you a price or have one listed just say...is that the best you can do? See what they say, it may not be a great discount (depends on how far you bargin) but at least it is something. Most Italians expect to bargin...especially at the market. Trust me, I come from a whole family of Italians! The man at the leather knocked off another10% from my jacket. I second the leather goods in Florence. If you are looking for a nicer gift that may cost a bit more (or one for yourself) 18k gold is very unique in Italy.
Thanks for all the info! I'm be sure to keep an eye out for all the items you suggest.
I bring back the beautifully decorated and always used and appreciated aprons and handtowels/baking towels they are huge and every outdoor market sells them for about oh,three for twelve, one of my best spots is the outdoor market near the post office in florence, real nice heavy duty cotton.... people ask me all the time if i can bring them back,,, I love the limoncello towels with the recipe on it.. give them the towel and a bottle of grain alcohol , lemons and sugar,,, makes a fantastic christmas gift, and i always get a bottle of homemade limoncella.....oh the t shirts are a great value too and always worn by the little ones till they wear out, soooooooo soft...
Someone on this helpline told me about the watches in Venice with Murano Glass design around the face. I bought one for my self and 2 for gifts. Everyone loves them. In Venice I bought the melted glass drop necklaces that are on Black string like chain for the people I was buying less expensive gifts for. Everyone loved them too. I landed up keeping one I especially liked for myself. I bought a young nephew a silk tie in Venice too. One nephew loves to play cards, so I bought him a pack of cards with CT scenes on them. A very young nephew I bought a Pinochio wooden doll in toy store in Venice. Venice was at the end of our trip and I bought almost all my gifts there so I did not have to lug them around. The things I bought were mostly small and light weight too.
For the women I brought back cute Aprons - lots of them had different pasta on them - and silk scarves which were very inexpensive.
I am not sure if they will have them but if you have some female friends with a good sense of humour they may enjoy this calender I kept seeing around Rome (and ended up purchsing for myself because it was so bizzare). It was a calender with priests (whom were all very good looking). Reminded me of one of those hunky firefighter calendars. I termed it the Father What a waste calendar. I would love to know if this is for real. I have it up in my house and still get a chuckle everytime I see it.
I see lots of comments about gifts/souvenirs in Florence, but not so much in Rome. Is it better to buy these things in Orvieto for example? I would love to buy some rosaries for my relatives but don't want to pay outrageous prices anywhere near the Vatican!
Try the little corner markets. They always have great small bottles of lemoncello, olive oil, candies, etc. I always purchase my little gifts in these type stores. You can always buy hand painted small ceramic bowls, plates etc. Leather is a great purchase in florence (wallets, small handbags) Have fun shopping!!!