Italy has a great tradition of hand-painted ceramics, and a nice gift can be chosen from a diverse selection of pottery from all over the country, including both traditional and modern pieces. Receiving a piece of hand-made ceramics will make friends and family feel like sharing the Italian lifestyle, appreciated by people with different tastes, habits and traditions. Plates, tea pots, bowls, spoons, jars and glasses, all kinds of objects and colors will be able to bring a piece of the "made in Italy" spontaneous charm. Beautiful pottery coming from many different regions, such as Tuscany, Umbria and Sicily, is made by modern designers who refer to ancient and current Italian traditions, especially representing the countryside daily routine. Prices vary from €5 up to several hundreds of euros.
Tourists in the lookout for such colorful gifts can find them during their visit to the beautiful Piazza Navona, where small shop L'Artigianato, at number 84, sells colorful ceramic pottery and kitchenware from many Italian regions created by some of the most famous local artists. Opening hours are 9.30am to 1pm and 3pm to 8pm, Monday to Saturday; closed on Sundays.
Italy is famous all over the world for its food, but its wine tradition is not less rich. Being one of the biggest wine exporters, Italian reputation is due not only to the big quantities produced, but also to the great variety of types, colors and flavors of wines on offer. Depending on the region, local wines can reach very high quality attained through various techniques used, types of land, and vines, not only local, but also those mixed with international varieties. Near Rome lies a region of Castelli Romani popular for its natural beauty and excellent wines, widely sold in the capital alongside most famous and appreciated wines from other parts of the country, such as Tuscany, Sardinia and Puglia. Experts say, Italian wines are among the world's finest, being strictly controlled in more than 300 zones officially classified as DOC or DOCG.
A good range of local wines is available at most grocery stores throughout Rome, although for a truly wide selection and aptly given advice, go to a specialized store. One of the most popular wine stores is Buccone at 19-20 Via di Ripetta, just beside Piazza del Popolo. Dating back to 1969, Buccone offers a wide choice of the best Italian wines, such as Nobile di Montepulciano, Tignanello, Morellino di Scanzano, with prices ranging from €20 up to €3600 for a bottle of red wine Brunello di Montalcino of 1964. Opening hours are Monday-Thursday from 9am to 8.30pm; Friday-Saturday from 9am to 11.30pm; Sunday closed.
3. Sweets and Pastries
No meal is properly finished without a combined dessert, and on Italian tables this can hardly be missed. The whole country boasts a great tradition of sweets, pastries, cakes and cookies that can be bought at many bakery shops in the capital, but Rome alone has its own very ancient sweet delicacies and, as such, is the best place to find them. Typical pastries belonging to the old Roman tradition are the famous Pangiallo romano, a sweet made of a mixture of different nuts, such as almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts and pine nuts, combined with honey, raisins and chocolate. Other typically Roman sweets include: Panpepato - a different version of Pangiallo, enriched with chocolate and spices; Mostaccioli - very old recipe that ancient Romans used for weddings; and Torrone romano, also dating back to the ancient Rome, and featuring pistachio, almonds and chocolate.
A great sweet shop where tourists can find pastries of both, ancient Roman tradition and those of other parts of the country, is Valzani. Open since 1925, it is located at 37 a/b Via del Moro in a beautiful Trastevere district, a true must-visit for anyone coming to Rome. Opening hours are 10am to 7pm Wednesday through Sunday; Monday and Tuesday closed.
4. Gourmet Food
Italian food is very popular all over the world, and a well-packaged piece of the local culinary tradition can certainly make a great gift from Rome. From flavored olives to pickles to cured meats, tourists can find any kind of gastronomic delight in the Eternal City, nicely packed and easy to carry. Some of the best gifts, apart from artisan pasta and mustard cream, are high-quality balsamic vinegars, usually coming from the northern city of Modena, and delicious specialties made of truffles, such as truffle oil, sauces and flakes used for pasta seasoning. Truffles are a typical Italian delicacy and in certain parts of Northern Italy, such as Piedmont, and in the region of Umbria they are a key ingredient in local dishes. All types of truffles are related to mushrooms and are known as hypogenous fungi. Like mushrooms, truffles have a system of root-like structures, but unlike mushrooms, they never show up on the surface. Truffles can be black and white, and the products based on them are many, from preserved whole truffles to purees to dried pastas to pastes to sauces.
A lovely shop that carries a wide range of truffle-based delicacies and other specialties of Italian culinary (flavored oils, wines, chocolate, artisan pasta and mustard), is Dolce e Non Solo, located at 81 Via Leonina, near Fori Imperiali and the Colosseum. Prices here range from €2 for a candy up to €100 for a bottle of high-quality balsamic vinegar. The shop is open Monday to Saturday from 10am to 3.30pm and from 4.30pm to 8pm. Sunday closed.
5. Artisan Chocolate
Italy has a long tradition of producing artisan chocolate. Apart from being delicious, it makes for a very nice gift as it comes in a variety of colorful shapes and packages fit to be considered a true form of art. A typical Italian chocolate product is Gianduia, created in 1856 by Caffarel, the oldest Turin-based chocolatier, featuring a mix of hazelnut and chocolate. Famous brands, such as Caffarel, Perugina and Venchi, are always beautifully packaged and ideal for a gift; each of these names is a certain guarantee of high quality. Venchi, in business since 1878, draws on centuries-old Italian recipes using strictly selected ingredients typical to the Italian tradition, such as hazelnut and almond. Be it finely packaged chocolate bars or boxes with small pieces, they all make for a perfect gift and won't disappoint. Prices vary, depending on quality and weight, from €2 up to €20, with the possibility to create your own basket.
If tourists want to buy freshly-made chocolate, there are many artisan shops in town, such as La Bottega del Cioccolato at 82 Via Leonina, where chocolate is made right on the premises. Among their products you can find typical Roman symbols, such as Colosseum, Pantheon and the Mouth of Truth. Opening hours are Monday to Saturday from 9.30am to 7.30pm. Sunday closed. Another beautiful shop is Cioccolata Artigianale at 27 Via San Francesco a Ripa, open Monday to Saturday from 10.30am-8pm. This store closes between June 5th and September 5th because temperatures get too high for chocolate at this time of year.
6. Italian Fashion
Admittedly, visitors can buy Italian designer clothing everywhere in the world, but collections vary remarkably. In Rome, a walk along Via dei Condotti, near Piazza di Spagna, is a must for tourists who want to spoil themselves with the most exclusive pieces from all the popular Italian designers. Names like Valentino, Dolce & Gabbana, Trussardi don't need any presentation, and between Via dei Condotti and adjacent Via del Corso, Via Frattina and Via Borgognona, all around Piazza di Spagna, it's possible to find both haute couture and prêt-à-porter, with prices varying from fifty to some thousands of euros, depending on the brand and the piece of choice. All the popular brands have their stores here, from Laura Biagiotti to Giorgio Armani to Alberta Ferretti to Gianfranco Ferré, and it's certainly not difficult to find a gift to match every taste.
One of the most popular names of the Italian fashion is, of course, Valentino, known for his love of red color and the elegance of his pieces. At number 52 Via dei Condotti sits another big name of the Italian fashion, Dolce & Gabbana, popular for their controversial creations. Opening hours for all stores in the area are from about 9-9.30am to 1pm and 4pm to 7.30pm.
The role of shoes in attaining a proper Italian stylish look is hard to overestimate. Alongside clothing, Italian style in footwear is unique, particularly if matched by masterly selected dresses, suits or denim. Needless to say that Italian shoes are famous and vastly appreciated all over the world. Stilettos, sandals boots, decollete footwear can equally make or break the look, and this is why the designers tirelessly experiment with styles and colors trying to adapt to every season and occasion. In Rome, you can find all sorts of shoes, both expensive and affordable, from many different brands, including famous ones like Gucci, Casadei and Albano, and little known independent designers, whose creations are less expensive but oftentimes more daring. Still, no matter what price or style it is, a pair of shoes makes a beautiful gift for either male or female. Normally, prices range from €40 to €1300 a pair.
The stores where tourists can find beautiful Italian shoes are scattered all over the city, but if it's class and elegance that you're after, explore the surroundings of Piazza di Spagna. For stylish shoes at affordable prices, Albano at 92 Piazza di Spagna is one of the first choices. Prices here range from €115 to €340, with the most expensive of their boots being embellished with Swarovski crystals. The store opens daily from 10.30am-2pm and 3pm-7pm; Saturday open all day.
Who doesn't mind forking out good cash, in Piazza di Spagna there's also more expensive footwear to be found, e.g. Casadei at number 89 and Sergio Rossi at number 97. Their prices range from about €300 up to over €1000.
No outfit is complete without perfect accessories, and bags, wallets, gloves and belts are no less important than shoes. Some of the Italian names for accessories have reached an iconic status, such as Gucci (for their bags). In Rome, it is possible to find both big brands and lesser ones, not as pricey but not less classy. Well-chosen accessories are essential to a woman's look to such an extent that, sometimes, shoes and accessories have the power to boost an otherwise modest appearance. Although most women won't hesitate to declare handbags to be their most important accessory, scarves, belts and hats play just as important role. And Italy boast a long tradition in this department as well. Silk scarf is one such garment, essential to any woman's wardrobe, and Italy produces some of the world's finest. This and other luxurious decorative adornments are available in Rome in a wide range, delivered by both big brands and small private workshops.
A popular store carrying a great stock of these accessories is Galleria Alberto Sordi. Not far from Piazza di Spagna, at 5/6 Via del Corso, is another good shop, Coccinelle, open every day from 10am to 8pm. Here you can find beautiful handbags at €150-€400, and other accessories for €30-€150.
Along with the designer clothing, a piece of Italian jewelry makes for a very classy and elegant gift. In Rome, you can find with ease some rather expensive, high-end pieces by famous brands, such as Bulgari, as well as creations by local artisans that are less expensive but equally beautiful. Italy has a long tradition of making fine jewelry that has always been part of the Italian chic style, enriching the look of queens, first ladies and women in general all over the world. These are glamorous pieces featuring all kinds of precious materials, from gold and silver to gemstones and pearls, coming up in innovative, elegant limited editions or one-of-a-kind jewels. Prices vary remarkably, depending on the material and the brand name, and range from €50 to €300 for bracelets and necklaces by designers, such as Annamaria Camilli, Pasquale Bruni or Pontevecchio, and upwards of €2000 for Bulgari diamond-based jewelry.
As Bulgari is one of the best-known Italian jewelry brands worldwide, tourists can start their quest for precious gifts right here, at 10 Via dei Condotti. For less expensive but still very fine jewelry, a store worth a stop is Iannetti, at the Galleria Alberto Sordi in Via del Corso, selling both designer pieces by the likes of Annamaria Camilli and Pontevecchio and their own creations.
10. Religious Art
Whether you are a passionate believer or not, you can't help noticing that Rome is also the capital of Christianity, and around the Vatican City there is obviously no lack of religious shops. While many of them sell cheap souvenirs of little value, there are others where tourists can find truly beautiful pieces of art, such as paintings, decorations or even precious rosary beads that can be well qualified as jewelry. Apart from rosary beads, religious gifts can include statues, cards, pendants, medals, towels, etc. Prices vary, and tourists can buy rosary beads for less then €2 or almost €900, depending on the material (sometimes, gold) and overall quality.
Shops selling religious art are usually found in downtown area, with a higher concentration near the Vatican city. One of the most popular stores is Comandini, at 151 Borgo Pio, open daily from 9am to 6.30pm and Sunday from 9.30am to 1.30pm. At 15 Via del Mascherino, between Saint Peter's Square and Piazza Risorgimento, is Mango, another religious shop selling all kinds of gifts, from some of the cheapest ones to the most expensive.
The Italian style is famous all over the world not just for fashion, shoes or jewelry, but also for house decorations. In Rome, there are many shops selling up to the moment household accessories, such as modern glasses and decanters, unusual designs in flatware and dishes, tablecloths and bowls, amusing and colorful objects that can vary, depending on the season, and make for an original gift. Stylish ornaments, beautifully decorated towels, cups and saucers, many of these objects can be easily packed and carried with the luggage. Any of them can be considered a nice gift, and the Italian style will make every object a unique present representing a piece of the Italian lifestyle. Tourists can either choose some neutral pattern and elegant shape easy to find at any homeware store, or among the emblems of the city of Rome, such as the Colosseum, the Mouth of Truth or the Steps of Trinità dei Monti. Prices vary extensively, from €2 for some fancy kitchen tools up to €300 for artistic tea sets.
A popular store for great houseware gifts is DCube, at 38 Via della Pace, very close to the beautiful Pantheon. DCube sells designer's gadgets, modern houseware tools and decorations for every shape, color and taste. Opening hours are from 11am to 10pm with less than an hour break for lunch. DCube has another outlet at 42 Via de' Crociferi, where the opening hours are from 10am to 8pm.
12. Accessories for Office
An exclusive gift from Rome can also come in the form of office accessories, such as e.g. paper or leather products made by Fabriano, the oldest continuously operating paper mill in Italy, opened as far back as 1264 and boasting among its former clientele none other than Michelangelo Buonarroti himself. Such stationery shops are the great places to look for original gifts like leather envelopes designed to hold business cards, sketch books (the works of art in their own right), and amusing fountain pens. Depending on the kind of accessory and material it's made of, the prices on stationery items range widely and fit any budget, from as little as €1 for a pencil to almost €500 for a leather laptop case.
The most popular store for office accessories is Fabriano, at 173 Via del Babuino, trendy street adjacent to Piazza di Spagna. Here, travelers will find any kind of stationery objects they could possibly think of. Opening hours are 10am to 8pm Monday to Saturday, and 11am-1.30pm and 2.30pm-7pm on Sundays.
13. Hand-Painted Paper
Another nice gift from Italy could be a product made of hand-painted paper, e.g. little chests of drawers, writing paper, picture frames and photo albums, wrapping paper, diaries and charming marionette theaters. Other gifts fitting into this category are the ones meant to capture various moments of daily life, such as notepads and recipe books, and their decorative patterns can easily please the eye of the beholder. Materials used for making these items differ and include wood, fabric, leather and hand-made paper, which, in turn, contributes to rather colorful creations. Most of the times, this sort of merchandise is made right there in the store, so visitors can even ask for custom modifications made on the spot to befit their taste. Given the diversity of materials used and, subsequently, the amount of work needed and resulting quality, the prices range just as widely, from €1 for a decorated pencil up to €200 for a large leather photo album.
One of the most popular stores in Rome for this kinds of gifts is Aldo Fefé, small and picturesque shop at 20b Via della Stelletta, near Piazza di Spagna, founded in 1932 and kept ever since by the same family of artists. The shop is open Monday to Saturday from 8am to 7.30pm; Sunday closed.
He who is looking for a sophisticated gift from Italy can choose from a huge range of designer perfumes freshly released every season, from Armani to Valentino to Laura Biagiotti to Dolce & Gabbana to all the other major fashion houses that have their own perfumes. One of the most popular brands among Italians is Acqua di Parma, elegant and especially created for a demanding market. Founded in 1916 in a small workshop, Acqua di Parma quickly became a timeless classic. For almost one hundred years, it's been a symbol of luxury and elegance, boasting a typical “made in Italy” style, with simple design and attention to the smallest detail.
Acqua di Parma offers wonderful perfumes as well as scented candles and home fragrances. Its candles are small sculptures made with fine wax by excellent Italian artisans using a particular process that allows the external part of the candle to stay undamaged while the candle burns from the inside.
Perfume prices vary extensively depending on the line, and can go from around €50 for a 50ml bottle to some €500 for pieces made especially for exclusive collections.
In Rome, tourists can find Acqua di Parma in every perfume shop. The chain Beauty Point has a good choice, and its stores are all over the city center, such as 16 Via Ripetta, near Via del Corso and Piazza di Spagna, or Via del Corso itself at number 312/314.
Every Italian region has a long tradition of cheese-making, and each of them boasts its own type of cheese. Cheese traditions derive from very old Italian food habits and, nowadays, there are countless types of cheeses made across the nation, from the worldwide popular Mozzarella to Sardinia's Pecorino to the northern Gorgonzola - these are just a few to mention. In legal terms, cheese is a product obtained through coagulation of milk and the uses of cheese in the Italian cuisine are countless. You can find them on top of the pasta, as ingredient to various sauces, served at the end of a meal before fruit and dessert, and sometimes as part of the antipasto. The difference between cheeses is also due to the different types of milk used - cow, goat, sheep or buffalo. A very well-known delicacy is the mozzarella made of buffalo milk, having a particularly fine taste, produced in large part in the Campania region and very much appreciated all over the country.
There are many places in Rome where tourists can find excellent cheeses, most not far from the city center. In the picturesque district of Trastevere is one such place, Antica Caciara, selling a wide range of delicious cheeses, sausages and other local delicacies. The shop is found at 140 a/b Via San Francesco a Ripa, and the prices vary remarkably, depending on the type of cheese, seasoning and the kind of milk it's made of, from €10 to €20 per kg.