We will be traveling to Italy next month and I want to be prepared to ship wine and other things home. We're each only taking one bag and will need to ship things home. What is the best way to ship these things home and how much should I expect to pay?
Shipping is expensive, and I've heard horror stories about wine getting "lost" going through customs. (Also, Michigan won't allow you to ship wine & alcohol into the state at all.) I had to get creative. When I was in Rome, I bought a cheap duffel bag (8 - 15 Euro) from a street vendor. On the way home, I used it as my carryon. I put my Lemoncello in my regular bag, and checked it. I carefully wrapped the bottles (socks work really well on bottles) and cushioned with my laundry. I was going to buy some bubble wrap, but the laundry worked perfectly. Bottles arrived, safe as houses.
I agree with the earlier poster. In Greve in Chianti and in Radda in Chianti, the shipping prices were sometimes more than the cost of the bottle. In the end we bought fewer bottles to carry home but still consumed a few during the trip. Same with the olive oil, we bought a couple of small bottles and used the big one for cooking during our 2 week stay on a farm.
Shipping wine home has been discussed in the past here. The short answer is that given the restrictions that most US states have, and the cost involved, it's not worth it. If you do plan on packing liquids in your luggage, take some 2-gallon Ziploc-style bags with you and put the bottles in those first. That way, if a bottle does break, all of your clothes won't have red wine stains.
With the price of the Euro right now, I expect that you wont' be buying as much as you thought...unless you have unlimited funds. Things are not cheap in Europe for Americans right now.
that being said, we've always bought only what we could carry on (prior to Aug 06). Shipping costs were expensive before the Euro went up! As the other poster said, things "get lost" on their way back here.
As far as wine goes. With all the exports Italy does to the US, if you find a wine you can't live without, bring one bottle home, go to your local wine store and see if they can get more for you. it will be a lot less expensive!
I'd add that it never tastes quite as good in my kitchen as it did on a sunny vacation day in Tuscany or Burgundy. To keep the memories, I often take the label home for my album (kind waiters have offered to get it off for me when they see me trying to peel it).