Italy is known for its sunshine, jolly people, iconic fashion, ancient buildings, and fabulous food. As much as we would love to take every piece of Italy home with us after a memorable holiday, customs duties, taxes and luggage allowances mean that we need to be discerning.
Forget mundane lighters, magnets, figurines or t-shirts; for lovely souvenirs that won’t weigh you down too much, consider buying these items instead.
Limoncello originates from southern Italy, especially along the Amalfi Coast. It’s a traditional, refreshing after-dinner lemon liqueur. Be sure to purchase a bottle (or two) to take home.
Nothing quite equals Italian tradition than a plate of mozzarella, basil and Roma tomatoes drizzled with delicious balsamic vinegar. In Italy, balsamic vinegar is added to almost all dishes, from pasta and salads and even to some desserts and fruit. However, not all balsamic vinegars are created equally. Make sure you purchase a bottle that reads “Tradizionale” on the label. Traditional balsamic vinegar, even to this day, is made only in Modena.
There is no finer glass in the world than Murano glass. Even though you can purchase the glass in Rome, there may be a chance that it won’t be the real thing. To avoid purchasing imitations, rather get your Murano glass in Venice where it is traditionally made. If the glass is genuine, you’ll receive a certificate of authentication no matter how small the purchase. Also, always keep an eye out for the official Murano trademark on the glassware.
A traditional Venetian mask is a must-have souvenir. There are a number of stalls where you can purchase masks, each with their own patterns and colours. No two masks are the same! Look at Ca’Macana and MondoNovo for beautiful hand-painted masks, which are reasonably affordable.
Burano is as famous for its magnificent lace as Murano is for its glassware. Burano’s lace is considered the world’s first true lace and can be traced back to the 1500s. Lace in Burano is very expensive but many discerning women buy it because it’s so unique. If you’re fortunate enough to find yourself in beautiful Burano, head to La Perla for traditional lace. If the history of lace-making interests you, visit the Burano Lace Museum in the Piazza Galuppi.
If you’d like to tour Italy, enquire at C the World, a South Africa-based tour operator.